THE SAGA CONTINUES This is what you get for thinking a bad thought.

On Tuesday, as I winkled my long stick out of its hiding place, I thought, You know, it’s been nearly a year since I hid this thing behind the big cabinet of hats. This has got to be a record!

On Saturday, the stick was gone.

You know the way, when you’re looking for something in your handbag, say, or your pockets, and you realise you’ve left it at home/lost it/had it robbed, you keep on looking for it? You go through the handbag again, you empty the pockets, again, like the thing was only hiding once or twice, but the third or fourth time, no way was the thing going to be able to hide from you any longer!

I stood, gobsmacked and dismayed. I moved things around, making a lot of noise, no doubt alerting the two or three people in the world who don’t know where I hide the stick as to where I hide the stick, but nope. Gone.

I berated myself for thinking that Tuesday thought. I took out one of the two sticks I have in my locker, a medium stick, and sighed. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I asked John at the desk if anyone had found my long stick when they were, er, tending to the space that was its hiding place?

YES. Oh! I said, no way, really? But he didn’t know where they’d been left, and said he’d ask on Monday.

I wandered, desolate, over to the indoor, and in the spirit of miracles past, asked Paula if she’s seen a long stick, maybe tucked away on one of the beams in the arena. It’s long and black and it doesn’t have the flippy thing on the end because it broke… I was going to go on to describe the end of the stick, how I’d wrapped the loose threads around the exposed plastic, how it seemed to hold firm and not look so broken—

NO. Oh.

I meandered, bereft, down to the outdoor arena and watched the intermediate kids ride. I knew that I could ride with the medium stick, that I could sit back, hold the reins in one hand, and give Connell or Rebel a nudge on the flank if necessary, with the medium stick, but they knew the difference between the two, and Rebel, I knew for a fact, had no respect for the medium stick. Even if I didn’t ever use the whip in an entire lesson, the reality of the long stick was enough to set the tone.

Was I relying too much on the long stick? I wish I had some video of Rebel in the last two weeks. Once he got going, he went great guns, but getting him to get going has been hard work. At one stage I felt like a rodeo queen, bap-bap-bap behind the girth as I held the reins in my outside hand and Rebel went into the canter, bucking and kicking. [It was kind of fun.]

Well, you know, whatever. Superstition and dependence and all that stuff notwithstanding, the long stick did make something of a difference, I could manage without it… I have one at home, a length somewhere between the long stick and the medium stick; I haven’t used it yet, it looks cheap and it’s red, and I’d have to start carrying it on the bus again, ugh —

SUE. I went over to the indoor to get my horse and Paula said, I think I found your stick…

IT WAS MY STICK. I stood in the middle of the arena, held it my hand, and felt the exultation run through me like a river. THE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE CONTINUES.

Now I need to find a new hiding place.

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