I THINK — I CAN NEVER FIGURE THIS OUT Okay, so I started riding in 2006, which means I ended my third year in September of ’09, and okay, I get it now, yes. Yes! Fourth year of riding has begun!

Or it will on Tuesday. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the last two weeks of no work and no horses, having the time to potter around the house in my dressing gown (which is one of those big, fluffy, white ones; this one literally must have fallen off a truck, it’s got a Carnival Cruises logo on it, and I got it for €19 at Clerys two years ago — or was it last year?)… er, where was I? Oh, right, dressing gown, pottering, also writing like a maniac — a new novel, and fresh stuff for my non-fiction horsey book; I came here to get some material and thought I’d hang out for a sec.

I think I may be at the stage where I can post and write the book at the same time? I do miss writing here. Also: unfortunate insight. Since Reb when on his holidays at the end of last summer, I have been riding Delilah, Amigo, and Tango, an interesting combination of personalities, and yet have had little to say. Oh, and also Malabar (Jim) at Festina. And yet… cue the tumbleweeds.

The second Rebel gets back and I start riding him again? I was actually embarrassed about the fact that all of a sudden I had the desire to start posting once more.

Bad relationships: they’re just so much more interesting, aren’t they?

Anyway, I have learned two things, and intend to really apply them in Year IV, because I know, like the spineless hussy that I am, that I will be returning again and again to draw from the Rebel Well. First of all, I ride him differently than I do the others, even Tango, who is equally arsey. I get on Reb, and try to take his temperature instead of telling him how hot it is. In other words, I’m letting him dictate the tenor of the lesson. Sorry, dude! Those days are over!

Secondly, I know, incontrovertibly, that the best way to warm him up is lots of transitions. Transition after transition after transition: walk from A to H, trot at C, walk at B, trot round at A, walk again at A, change rein, rinse, lather repeat. One after the other after the other, until he has no choice but to listen to my leg. If he doesn’t know what’s coming next, then he has to pay attention. I did this in my last private lesson of 09 and frankly, it’s a feckin’ miracle.

And it is worth it, because when he is listening to me, he’s respecting me, and when he’s respecting me, I can do that thing where I can ‘ignore’ him (have I written about this feeling before? Must check) and when I’m ‘ignoring’ him, I can concentrate on myself and on making the adjustments I need to make every three seconds, and if I’m doing that, I’m riding better and not annoying him, and if I’m not annoying him, he listens to me ETC.

What’s the opposite of a vicious circle? A glorious one.

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