[MOJO IS A GOOD NAME FOR A HORSE] It’s been a year and half since I joined the Saturday lesson, since The Injury, since despite It, I tried to jump in my first Saturday lesson, fell on my head, and have been struggling week by week, Saturday by Saturday, to like it again.

Not the riding, but the idea of ‘Saturday’ itself. I was so intimidated and overwhelmed by the level of horsewomanship in the lesson that I thought about switching out to another. I was so tired of falling off of Connell. I was tired of feeling nervous every single Saturday. The thing is, I started this whole journey on a Saturday in September 2006; ach, so sentimental. I love going up there on Saturdays, it’s buzzy, I know lots of the other riders and some of the mums, the energy of the activity on and off the horse is so great… so I really didn’t want to drop it…

But it had been so hard. It had been so hard to get up there, get up on the horse, and fall. Honest to God, I fell every week for months. I can count on my fingers the number of lessons I didn’t fall off. They all weren’t all FALL falls: some of them were more of the ‘slow slide down the horse’s neck’ variety, but one or two [or three], whoo, ouch. I didn’t have the confidence in my leg, to risk the clinch and grab — I was so afraid of tearing that poxy muscle again, it was easier on the leg, if not on my ego, to hit the deck.

I was so sick of falling off! Every fall, no matter its stripe, was gouging chunks out of my confidence. Never mind that I was riding fine on Tuesdays. I wasn’t nervous on Tuesdays. I was like Dr Jekyll on Tuesdays, and Mr Hyde on Saturdays, and I was sick of it. I skipped lessons… I had work, and stuff, but there wasn’t the gut-wrenching I’m going to miss horses! that I’d had for years and years when I didn’t have a choice but to miss, to reschedule.

And then… and then there was the day that I did not fall off that !@&ing horse. That was all the way back in June! Wow, I seriously thought it was two months ago. I’ve been building and building on that day, on that victory; there was the steady commiseration and encouragement from the excellent, excellent women in the lesson; there was the growing positive feedback from the ground; there was the beginning of the sense that I could get back to where I was, before The Injury, and the idea that every lesson was a victory, a victory of focus, and learning, and frankly, sheer stubbornness.

Three weeks ago I woke up on Saturday and went, Huh…; the week after that woke up and went Hmmm…? Today, as I made my way to my second bus, I noticed that I was walking with purpose, one previously unhappy foot feeling rather bouyant, and the feeling was !!!!! — there weren’t any words, just a full-body flow of energy and excitement.

Connell was fizzy in the lesson previous to his and mine — Well, he’s awake, I thought. I got up there, warmed up, and we started jumping. At B, a cross pole, one stride, a straight and then canter over to a straight at E. I have been psyched out by Connell, as I have mentioned, particularly at combinations, and I decided — I decided not to be freaked out. I kept my gaze pinned to the tops of the hills in the distance, and he jumped and jumped, and we made it round on the correct lead, and over we went, over and over, to the increasingly vocal affirmation of everyone in the lesson. I felt every single step, I rode every single step, and I did my part to get us to the fences, and let Con do his job. He stopped at the first fence, at some stage, and I just turned him round and started over. I did not !@&ing fall off, and his pace around to the E fence was smashing [but not in a crashy way.]

At the end of the lesson we were all sitting there, and Paul said, ‘Sue did really well today!’ and everyone turned to look at me, and they just… beamed. It was perfectly, beautifully awesome.

I untacked Connell, wishing I had a treat for him, and over and over in my head, I said to myself, I did not give up. I did not give up. I did not give up. There is ‘stopping’ which for myriad reasons, one may have to do. I had to stop riding for a while because I simply could not heal and ride at the same time. There is ‘not pushing’ when you know that to do so is inadvisable, dangerous, too scary. Confidence is lost, and lost, and lost. But I regained mine today, because I did not give up going after it. I knew it was in there somewhere, and the only way to get it back is to get up there and go. To go after it, to dig it out, to recover it — to build on it, and build on it. Sure, I’ll take more knocks to it, but I will never, ever give up.

Broke a nail, though, so this experiment is going to have to start over. Not giving up on that, either!

A quick search yields the use of this headline, with variation. Three years ago… plus ça change…

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