IN DECEMBER So I got on Connell and he balked.

I asked again, more firmly, for him to walk on, and he shook his big butt.

Oh, no you don’t, thought I.

‘Oh, no you don’t,’ I said.

‘Dude,’ I said, and his near ear twitched back towards me. ‘I have been riding Rebel for the guts of three years. You, young sir, are an amateur.’ And I gave him a twitch to the bum with my stick, which backed up a firm leg, and he walked on.

His walk — it took several steps before I got into the rolly-ness of it. It was kind of like being in a waterbed. When I made that comment everyone looked at me like: Wha’?

You know, a waterbed! All kind of wobbly and freaky at first, and then it settles down! No…? Okay, whatever.

We bumped and grinded down to the lower arena, and as we began to warm up in open order, and he balked some more, I thought to myself, I need a long stick.

So I said, aloud, ‘I need a long stick,’ and someone swapped with me.

As the lesson went on, I made a check list in my mind, of his strengths and weaknesses, of the things he did [like hold his head kind of high — was it me and my bad hands, or his habit?] and things he didn’t do [strike off on the proper leg on the right rein, in canter.] I asked questions, got answers, and basically rode this horse with my mind, and not merely my body.

Okay, okay, I know, that’s a given, and probably a whole ‘nother post, but what I mean here is that I was, for the first time, making decisions for myself without anyone saying, ‘Okay, Sue, he’s a bit stroppy, but he’s no Rebel!’ or ‘You should use a long stick with him.’ I came to conclusions and decisions myself, for the first time ever.

For the first time ever in 5.5 years, I got on a horse and figured out what to do. THIS IS SO AWESOME TO ME YOU CANNOT IMAGINE.

I remember, early on, geez, definitely within the first six months, standing next to the horse like a pillock, waiting for the instructor to come along and chivvy me up into the saddle. There was a girl over from somewhere in Europe, Austria maybe, and she totally knew what she was doing. I remember standing holding Argo’s reins, and watching her as she went around the horse, authoritatively, yanking down stirrups, checking the girth, who knows what. The day that I found myself doing all that stuff myself was a big day.

This was a big day, too. The independent thoughts I had came as naturally as the sunshine [or should I say the rain?] I am having other, interesting independent thoughts… but I’ll keep them to myself for the moment.

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