This has the possibility of sounding harsh, but that may just be my sensitive nature fluttering up to the surface. And I had to think of a headline other than ‘From the Brain to the Rein’ because I’m fairly certain I’ve used that one already.

So, last Saturday was lackluster, because I was lackluster. Now, this may sound like human arrogance, like the horse has nothing to do with quality of performance … but the horse really, truly, absolutely can’t give more than he or she receives. Horses can be what I’ve heard is called ‘honest’: this is generally applied to horses who will jump the fence no matter what nonsense has been coming down the reins. I think that ‘saintly’ might be more apt. They can be as honest as the day is long, but it’s not up to them to determine the quality of the lesson.

This may also sound all martyr-ish, ‘Oh, I suck’, but that’s not it either. Self-pity is pointless, especially when, while almost any crazy thing could happen in a lesson, most of the time, no crazy things happen, so that when that ‘anything’ happens, you just have to cope with it, and it’s really no big deal. You don’t feel sorry for yourself [much] because the real miracle is that more crazy things don’t happen every week.

Last Saturday I was a little sleepy and still a little annoyed by the ligament thingie. This Saturday, I was feeling pretty good, awake, aware, and ready to roll. I got The Connell Report from the very capable teen who has him before me. She told me she had to get off one of the horses, who was acting up [there’s that anything!] and that Con was fine, despite having been brought in halfway through.

Hmmm. This kid does a terrific job of warming him up, and, well, half a lesson was better than none. So I got up there, and we went down to the arena, and he was kicking up his heels a bit. As we warmed up, though, he felt pleasantly springy, and when we started to do a trot-to-canter exercise over poles, as a ride, he really perked up.

So much so that when we started jumping a wee fence as part of the exercise, he was raring. I think… yeah, like, six months ago I would have gotten nervous. But I was so there that I just went with it. He was getting the prescribed number of strides into the fence, four, and we had to count aloud and look at the instructor while we were doing it. We did good.*

I was there. Connell was foaming at the mouth like that fountain in College Green when the Trinity studies toss in laundry detergent. I looked this up, because I had an idea that this was a good thing, and in certain circles, this is: it meant that Con was on the bit, chewing rather than chomping, and that he was driving from his hindquarters. And we got there because I was there, and feeling good, and being in charge and communicating well. I mean, we even hit the correct right canter lead more often than I have ever done with him!

You might say that he responded well. Horses are the ultimate responders. But! He responded to the signals he was receiving from me, which seem like they were successful.

I feel like… I feel like whilst I won’t set impossible standards for myself, I can strive to be even more there, more than I already had thought I was, and when I’m not, I’ll do my best to avoid that horrible, horrible feeling that follows upon a ‘bad’ lesson.

Starting to suspect that there are no good or bad lessons, and it’s all about the quality of our attitudes to them…

*Except that when Paul said, ‘Don’t look!’ initially, I thought he meant don’t look at him? Which, okay, makes no sense: he meant, count the strides and don’t look at the fence… which, uh, yeah. That makes it more of an learning experience, doesn’t it? LOL?

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