Five Finger Exercise

Well, my hands are killing me after 45 minutes of keeping Rebel in check. Sore fingers are a new one on me, and since I had a lot of writing to do today, it’s an interesting kind of sports… not injury. Inconvenience? It’s worth it, though, because keep him in check I did.

Saturday had been run-of-the-mill, outside in the mud puddle, nothing big, but at one stage coming around the C end, Reb spooked at something that only he could see, and did that jig and bounce to the right, and I sat through it— I swear, nine months ago I would have been in the muck, but I sat it, got him back on the track, and thought to myself, That’s kind of fun, actually.

Why do I do this to myself? [See under: Tango.] Because last night, Rebel was intent not only on going at a rate of knots, but also on throwing in the odd little jig, every ten minutes. Maybe even every five. But I can say that I feel utterly expert at riding out these side trips, at least on Rebel.

They didn’t frighten me in the least. I wasn’t completely delighted with his need for speed, and for his more-than-usual heaviness on the forehand, and Nikki asked me did I want to change him for someone else, [No] and if I didn’t want to canter I needn’t [I did]— I don’t know… I don’t think it was ego… was it? Having mused on the pitfalls of arrogance in the past, I can’t say I’ve knocked it completely on the head, but I don’t think I was showing off. I was concentrating on keeping his reins short— my fingers were practically in his mouth— keeping my seat, and dealing with the frustration of Rebel at his peevish worst.

The slightest bit of rein— he was running. Tighten ’em up— we’d fall behind Jack and have to cut across to catch up. Too boring, all this circling? Let’s nip in to the center, sideways. In one particularly bolshy outburst, he bucked a little but I was having none of it, and my reaction is now second nature, sit back, leg on, tap on the shoulder.

Everyone in the next lesson were watching, and it didn’t seem to matter that he’d been going for 45 minutes, he kept acting out and I kept correcting him. I’ve discovered that he responds to vocal cues, as well. And by vocal cues I mean ‘shouting at him in full voice.’ I am not a shouter, in the general run of things. I always feel embarrassed to lose my cool. This may be my lesson here, and it’s a toughie, because I can’t imagine that getting used to bellowing is going to do me much service in daily life.

I dismounted gratefully, but proudly, as well. I didn’t give up. I didn’t give him a hard time.I corrected him, er, correctly. He gave me a hard time, but I showed him I was up to it. Sure, he got his Polos anyway. I can also see now that his bucks are tests, to see how far he can go. I think he’s seeing that he can’t go quite so far as he used to.

And I have a theory. Charlie’s been off all autumn, and this event marks the beginning of Rebel’s attitude problem. I think Rebel misses Charlie; in fact, I know from watching them, all those lessons I used to watch before my commute became slightly more streamlined, that Reb just loves Charlie. He’s got a boy crush on the big bay. I know it! And I’ll bet that somebody’s going to be a different gelding when Charlie’s back on stride…

Geez, though, my fingers are still killing me. Is there some kind of pilates for hands? I can’t imagine fitting in piano lessons, for crying out loud— guess I’ll just have to write more.

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