Saturday. My last lesson of 2008. Christmas cheer already imbuing the yard, and I had gifts for Nikki and Barbara, and everybody was already talking about their holiday plans.

In a festive mood, Barbara was sporting a pair of red felt antlers, complete with bells.

Rebel was in a mood, bolshy, impatient, and I put it down to that when he swerved like a lunatic at A. Sat back, pulled him in, off we went, another round – whoops, swerv-a-roonie, and do it all over again, and worse in the canter, every time at A-

Because our antlered instructor was standing there.

‘Er, could you take those off?’ I asked, breathless, as he dropped his inside shoulder again.

Connall didn’t like them either, and abashed, Barbara removed the yuletide addition to our afternoon lesson.

Was it really that? You have to wonder, did he really see them and get that freaked out? As I lead him out of the indoor and gave my thanks and said my goodbyes, Barbara had put them back on again. He looked at her. She looked at him. She shook her head. The bells lightly rang.

He jumped and skittered.

Yup. He knew.

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