World of Difference

Remember how last Tuesday was crap?

This Tuesday was fine. Not amazingly great, but perfectly, acceptably fine.

It’s so weird, which it really isn’t, because every day is different, that’s life, but everything about the horses is still so heightened for me that things like this are remarkable. As in ‘momentous’ and as in ‘to be remarked upon.’

I passed Nikki in the aisle, and we greeted each other, and I essayed my new refrain, ‘CanIhaveDelilah?‘ and she said yeah— and I saw that she’d already paired us up on the list. Whew. I said hello to everybody– and I’ll give Rebel this, he’s always happy enough to greet one exuberantly— and bridled Delilah with very little fuss.

She fussed as I fussed with the girth, however, and I still can’t be sure how much she’s blowing out her belly [except that I can be sure that she is], and while one of the livery girls held her, I shifted things around, and got the block, and began to mount, and the saddle slipped entirely to the nearside, and I slid down, bump on the block, bump on the ground, one flabbergasted ego, and nothing else but some muck on my arse.

Saddling seems to be my next learning curve, I’m still not sure how to locate it properly from horse’s back to horse’s back, and I worry about setting it in the wrong place, and then this belly-blowing thing: the first time I put a saddle on Delilah’s back, the girth wouldn’t close, so I told Nikki, who gave me a new strap, and it still wouldn’t work, and eventually [when Nikki came to put it right] proved itself to be a combination of the saddle sitting too far down Delilah’s back, which earned her scorn, which she demonstrated by holding her breath.

Anyway, I now know to check both sides of the girth, and I got up there, and we got going, and it was a relief to be in the front of the ride again, on a horse that accepted my aids and, despite first-hour-of-the-day sleepiness, went. I didn’t have to think about her, and frankly, she didn’t have to worry about me, we both just got on with it, that perfect place of being able to be working together, but kind of ignoring each other as well. Or is it detachment? Or is it trust…?

We jumped a sequence of two jumps, and Delilah was up for it, taking them at a brisk trot and a fiery canter, and for the first time I think I really got the timing in between: first fence, sit, leg on, fold. No messing about, no temper tantrums, no bolshy bucking, nothing but the work to hand, and I felt like I didn’t suck, which is always nice. I didn’t feel a faliure, which I was worried I might, going back to a horse I used to ride, but was in fact able to track my improvement in the three [four?] months since I’d been paired with her regularly.

What a change from the last few sessions. And yes, to answer my own query, it is trust, absolutely trust, that bonds me to her, and her to me. Bond— attach— secure. Security is the key. I know her quirks, I know her eccentricities, but I know at bottom she always shows up for work and gets it done. Some days she enjoys more than others, but I can always count on her to be there. And because I can, this informs my attitude, which is relaxed [although always on the alert for the odd nip], which in turn inspires her confidence in me.

My confidence, having been knocked about somewhat, is restored. And of course, of course, that means I’ll be ready to strike out again, take on Reb, take on Tango, see how I get on. It’s lovely, knowing that I have a horse to go to get me back on track. She’s a good girl, is Delilah, and I’m lucky to know her.

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