Horsing around   Leave a comment

Excessively obvious title: -10 points.

It’s Monday morning (well, it’s before lunchtime, anyway). Despite getting to bed on time, and not getting up on time, I’m tired, and a bit headachey, possibly because somebody’s tried to cram my skull full of cotton wool. So if this post makes even less sense than usual, you know why.

On Saturday morning I went horse-riding for the first time in ages. This also meant that I had to spend time with somebody I didn’t know for the first time in ages. I’m sure Mum’s friend is very nice – this is very much It’s Not You, It’s Me – but still. Happily, it wasn’t that bad; she initiated some small attempts at conversation, and I tried to respond politely, but I don’t know how to carry on a conversation any more so comfortable silence eventually reigned supreme. I’m not sure whether I came across as scared and insular, or unfriendly and hostile, but both are acceptable hypotheses supported by the available evidence. And not mutually exclusive.

Horses are a different matter, though; talking to them is a good idea. They don’t understand English, of course (or, indeed, many other languages), but it’s helpful if you talk to them in a calm and friendly manner should there be something they’re a bit unsure about. Horses can be a bit skittish, so reassuring them that it was probably just a butterfly, or that the skip won’t hurt them, is important.

Wilf, whom I rode, was raring to go. He’d not been ridden out for months, because my sister is strangely picky about who she lets ride him, despite never doing so herself. Mum’s friend is desperate to have a go on him, but isn’t allowed, for some reason – but I am, despite not having sat on a dobbin for months or years (not entirely bad for me; Wilf’s saddle is much more comfortable than Sam’s). This is a bit odd, because Wilf is an impeccably-trained and good-natured animal, and she was enthusiastic to let other people have a go on her previous horse, Jinja, who was a nutjob and eventually had to be put down because he was a danger to himself and both other horses and humans, even when not being ridden.

It’s un-nerving to be sat on an utterly immovable, unresponsive horse, especially when he’s parked himself sideways in the middle of a road. Even more-so, oddly, than the bucking and pirouettes that led to it. When Jinja finally decided to spin 180° and charge straight at the hedge it was almost relieving, despite my having to wonder – is he going to turn left, or right, or jump the hedge and the ditch and charge across the field beyond?

Wilf doesn’t suffer such peculiarities, and despite his enthusiasm – and you can’t blame him, in his previous life he was a three-day eventer – the closest he got was interpreting my “I’m going to adjust my stirrups” as “let’s have a canter”. Which is what you get when you give something a lot like the instruction to have a canter, to a horse trained to do exactly what he’s told, whilst leading a ride, down a track that looks pretty similar to a cross-country course. But no mishaps – he slows down when you tell him to – and so a good time was had by all.

Although the riding has given me an aching back for a couple of days, and the side-effects of bathing in the irrepressable gaze of that cancer-spewing ball of death in the sky is that my kneck’s slightly burnt and stinging. See? Indoors is always best.

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