It’s the Monday after my rodeo show with Rebel. I’m still annoyed and unhappy, and now I’m heading off to ride the Big Horse with No Bit.

I woke, and considered bailing. How much more battering could my shaky confidence take? After the last time, I wasn’t so sure that I had the ability to make the dude go, much less make him stop.

Luckily, as often happens under these circumstances, my muscle memory overrides the monkey mind, and I found myself on the bus to Bray, and then walking down the long road to the yard.

He’s such a dote, is Morris, but man, he’s large. I look at myself in the mirror after mounting, and my legs are just about draped over his enormous back — I look like one of the teeny weenies that ride in Carrickmines, the six-year-olds whose heels just about hit the flap of the saddle.

I’d had time to think about what was said at the last lesson, and I decided, for once, not to work so hard.

It worked.

Instead of pushing with my seat in the walk, I let my legs nudge him along, and while his head was still a little high, it wasn’t nearly close the the ‘panic stations’ position it was in, in the previous lesson.

And it all went simply from there. We did a bit of trotting, but it was a lesson taught mainly in the walk, and with amazing result. We did circles, we did leg yields, we did it all on the right rein very well, and then on the left: not so much.

But that was something to work on, something to learn. It’s no surprise to me that my left leg is weak; what we did was take the time to build it up. I can’t express the raptures of delight I reached when I finally got him to yield to that leg to get over onto the track. And his head was fully released, he was relaxed — because I was relaxed.

From the edges of the arena, it must have looked like the most remedial lesson ever, in the history of lessons, but it’s one of the best I’ve had all year. I successfully, with very little pressure applied (from the instructor, not from my leg!) managed to do something that I’ll need to do with every horse I ride.

I love this all over again.

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