Confidence Building

‘You want Rebel…?’ Nikki asked, her voice drifting off into a questioning tone that gave me the out I needed.

‘CanIhaveDelilah?’ I blurted; she nodded, and I danced to the mare’s stable.

My confidence was getting knocked about: after a fall off Tango and two rough rides on Rebel, and I wanted some comfort. Going to a mare for comfort? Well, yeah: maybe tough love is more like it.

It worked.


We did loads of flatwork, working on inward and outward bends, circling and circling, and Delilah was in great form. And I think the whole ride felt good: this kind of work felt… progressive. We’ve gone beyond just sitting there, following dumbly along. We’re being asked to become better horsepeople, more subtle, more controlled. While I generally think a lesson without jumping is a lesson wasted, this was a good ‘un, and I must have done something right in the leg department, because I was limping all day Wednesday. Excellent!

My preference lately for Rebel has centred around his canter, and I was wondering what it would be like, back on Delilah, bouncy Delilah. Instead of cantering one at a time in the ride, each rider got the whole arena to themselves, primarily, I think, because you can’t pass out a ride that kicky Tango is in. It also gave those waiting, in the middle of the arena, a chance to really watch everyone else go.

Delilah and I went… and for some reason, she wasn’t as bouncy as I remembered. Or! Yes: I’m not as bouncy as I used to be. Off we’d gone, Delilah responding to a far more decisive leg, and there I was, deep in the saddle, legs long and on, heels down, the whole whack, down in my seat, not a glimpse of a glimmer of light between arse and leather. On both reins! [I’m weak on the left, which I think is true of most beginning right-handed riders.] Just that was enough to lift me out of the funk I’d unwittingly drifted in to, post-peevish Rebel.

Except that he pretty much went fine for Val, and Eimear had another super night on Tango. Having struggled with both recently [the horses, not the women], well… I’m feeling a familiar combination of wounded pride and low morale and ‘don’t they like me?’ [The horses, not… right.] Mix in a healthy shot of stubborness, and I’m tempted to get back on one or the other [horses!] on Saturday.

Do I need a holiday from Rebel and Tango? Having successfully become a rider-of-Delilah, it seems like backsliding— laziness— failure— to go back. Mustn’t I master these tough guys? Depends, I suppose, what I think I’m mastering. If I think I’m a loser because a horse won’t go for me, then perhaps I’ve got some work to do, and lessons to learn, on a horse that will go for me. I’m fairly certain I won’t progress if I keep doing the same thing over and over— in fact, I know for sure that a problem is never solved at the level at which it was created.

A bit of a holiday won’t go amiss. Whilst it would repair my aplomb to get on Tango and get him to listen to me, at this stage, it might be best if I’m— revolutionary!— kind to myself and work with a horse that I can communicate well with, enjoy the lesson, and then move on again. Get back into the process, again, and not worry so much about the product.

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