A couple of weeks ago — see, I didn’t even bother writing about this, because honestly, this is like the eleventy billionth post on this topic.

A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the building at the yard where the lockers are, and I noticed out of the corner of my eye, as I was taking off my outerwear, that the walls looked yellower. Paint job? I wondered to myself — but maybe they had always been like this, except I never noticed? No, yellower, deffo, I thought as I simultaneously thought Oh, craaaaaaap. Sure enough, the long stick was nowhere to be found. And the tower of lockers that contained mine own had been shifted around, too. You know that weird feeling you get, when you know that something is changed — it’s like, your body knows something is weird, it is standing there with a key in its right hand and it knows that it is not going to fit into the lock, and it waits for the mind to figure it out so it can whatever comes next.

Located my locker, not the stick. Asked around, snooped around — nothing.

That was that, finally. All gone. The thing was, it wasn’t horse people moving stuff around, it was painter people, so, not a hope that they’d even just pitch it into the indoor arena.

I had this other long stick, I talked about it here, and I grudgingly brought it along the following Tuesday — and then realised when we were halfway home that I’d just left it on the ground! I frantically texted my instructor to please find it for me. There was no way I was going to lose two sticks in one week!

Then today I decided to take along a sort of medium-long stick instead of the red — okay, so, clearly, we are not deprived of whips in the Conley household. But the long stick was ‘the’ long stick, the Lassie Come Home of schooling whips, a veritable prodigal son of riding crops. I wanted that one, dammit, because, because — because I managed to keep it hidden, in an active yard, for almost two years!

It’s about its history as much as its length.

I walked down to the lower arena, to watch the end of the lesson and to save Connell the walk back to the indoor. His rider had just taken the fence at B, and was heading towards A. All the way at the opposite end to where I was standing. She had a stick in her hand. She had my stick.

The lower outdoor arena is 50m x 30m. 50m = 164ish feet. And I knew it was my stick. I experienced the moment of doubt that anyone would, from a distance of 50 metres, but: it was my stick. I knew it! I recognised the way it was frayed at the end. I felt — I felt a bit annoyed, as well as exultant. Annultant? I claimed it back nevertheless, because for crying out loud, this thing is like a homing pigeon. I gave my medium long stick to AM for the hour, and brought both of them home.

Have I lost my nerve?!?! I don’t think so. I think I’ll leave in back in its hiding place. It really is fiddly to carry about. Also: comments from the outside world have degenerated to the degree where I got honked at from a car on my way home. This allows me no time for a come back. Unacceptable.

I absolutely dare it to disappear again. I dare it!

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