MY FIRST ROSETTE!

So. The showjumping league has been going on for ages, and yesterday was the last one until summer. I talked myself out of it the first week, and after that, there wasn’t even a voice in my head to ignore. I was doing okay on Connell, but every fence felt like a 50/50 proposition, and I just wasn’t feeling sufficiently confident.

On Saturday, one of my lesson mates basically talked me into going, and since AM was going as well, I figured, Ah, sure, feck it.

And then I was unexpectedly out Saturday night, home at 12ish, how’d that happen? and when I woke up, I thought, Ah, no, sure, I’ll sleep in and forget it… but then somehow, I suddenly found myself up, and washing my face, and having coffee, and checking the bus times, and walking out the door.

Weird, how that happens. How the mind goes lalalalalala and the body decides to ignore it.

At some stage on the bus, it occurred to me that just because I’ve been riding Connell, it didn’t mean I had to jump him. Hmmm. Since Rebel is no longer around {I can’t — I’ll write about that at some stage but not now, not here} I thought, Maybe I’ll take Delilah? I mean, she’s stiff and she’s getting up in years, but I watched her jump fences for a very indifferent rider recently and thought, Well, she’s bockity, but she’ll get me over the fences.

Connell or Delilah? Delilah or Connell? went my brain, getting me back for ignoring its chatter about having a lie-in instead of a showjump. I got into the car, barely said hello to AM. ‘I might take Delilah,’ I said, and pros and cons were weighed.

When I went to pay, Paul said, ‘And you’ll want Connell,’ and I said, ‘Can I have Delilah?’ and he said, ‘Either one!’ and so I went and got Delilah. Oooh, the warm up: I had forgotten just exactly how bockity she was, and it was a bit of a struggle to sit back in the canter. She refused one practice fence. Feck! I thought, and was thisclose to putting her back and getting Con… but I went at the fence again, we went over — okay. Off we went, me and D, to go jump a course of 70s.

I… I don’t really remember it? It was eight fences, and then if you went clear, you did the first six over again. Right. There was one at F, and then a related distance at X, then over to E, then back around to F for the line in to a double at X, then eeeeeeeeeeeeee H around to M, then the first fence became the 7th, and the 4th became the 8th.

I remember Delilah shaking her bum and trying to take off as we trotted large around the arena; I remember thinking Hmm, well, if she’s hot, she’ll be strong and get us over the fences, and then thinking, No, I want to control this, and sitting back and not letting her get out of hand; I remember being worried that I would forget which was the 5th fence; I remember thinking, Oh, God, I am bouncing around like a sack of potatoes and then sitting in more fully; I remember coming around the turn at H, heading for fence 6 and hearing another of my lesson pals call encouragement; I remember going over 6 and looking and thinking Oh, there’s 7! and feeling surprised by it.

When I cleared 8, I heard Paul call ‘Clear round!’ and I thought — I don’t think I thought? I don’t know, I just kept going, and went straight to 1; I remember coming around to 4 and feeling myself losing my left stirrup, and then putting more weight in the right stirrup and keeping the left; and I remember, as I came around again to 6, I thought Holy shit, I think— and I remember thinking as we sailed over it, thinking Ah! and then we landed and everyone cheered! and I felt like my whole body was my heart, beating and beating and laughing and full of pure, unadulterated joy.

I thought, Maybe I’ll do the 80s?, but I brought Delilah back up, and AM handed me her phone so I could video her round, and I commenced taking photos of me and my ribbon and texting them to myself. I remember, because I feel it now, the surge of absolute delight, the absolute and clear and incontrovertible sheer joy of having gone around clear. Of having been in the moment and only the moment, of only thinking as far as the next fence and of the… the ‘nowness’ of it, of one thing coming naturally after the next and doing just what was in front of me. Of urging Delilah on and forward and over and around: clear, clear, clear.

I’ve just remembered that I didn’t untack Delilah, oh shoot, but I was completely satisfied with my round of 70s and figured, Ah, I’ll do the 80s next time, and I forgot to go back, and oh, dammit, oh well.

I’ll never forgot whispering to AM, Do you think I get a rosette, and we weren’t sure since I hadn’t been in the league before now — and I’ll never forget the shock of delightful surprise when names were called to come forward for the ribbons and mine was one of them, and me lurking around like Gulliver, waiting for all wee girls to get their rosettes, and for the league winners to get their plaques. {Plaques?!? Hmmm!}

I tucked the rosette carefully into my pocket, and whenever anyone said the word ‘rosette’, I’d touch my pocket. There it is, I’d assure myself. There’s mine.

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