Goodbye to the Grand Stretch

Not the temperature, because sure, why wouldn’t it be borderline freezing in August in Ireland? And not really complaining about that so much as regards Connell, who is happier in the cooler weather and less sticky.

I am sad because every day, the sunset occurs a couple of minutes sooner, so that means: no more Wednesday night ride outs.

The fact that I am even sad about this is cause for celebration. It has taken me years to get over my fear of the fields, and even here I will qualify that by saying ‘the fear of our fields.’ I’m not sure I’m still not a bit edgy when it comes to unfamiliar cross-country, but again, to even be the person who says ‘Let’s go out!’ is shocking and thrilling.

Way back in 2007 I wrote this; at some stage maybe in 2011, when I first started riding Connell, I remember taking him down the lane for a walk and singing to him the whole way, to cover up the fact that I was petrified because I didn’t know what he was going to do. As ever, with horses, there’s only one way to find out: do it.

We did it, and he wasn’t that bit bothered. Onto a ride out, and I was huddling in the back, nervous as hell, with a livery lady who was very patient with me, and… yeah, nothing happened there, either.

We began to build up good experiences. Going down the lane became a pleasure, and galloping up the hills became a joy — mainly because Connell, while eager not to get left behind, is really not keen to go pelting down to Wexford; he runs out of gas about ten paces from the top of any hill we care to go up. Jumping out in the field became a thrill: the logs aren’t all that intimidating, and there’s new run of four that ride really well, and since I’ve started to get his stride properly {finally}, it is great craic altogether.

Even when he started running out of the fence that comes up after the tires, I took the time to talk about it with my instructors, and figured out a way to get him over it: by taking the tires, then pulling away and waiting, and then taking the pesky fence on its own. The second time we did this, he started hopping around like, ‘When can we gooooooo?’ I reckon he must have it nicked it and gotten spooked by it, but we took our time and jumped it twice without mishap.

I want to put allll the elements together: do the log to the tires to that pesky fence, into the other field over a little bank and then those four new ones in a row — five, actually, there’s another log that’s about 70cms.

No chance of doing that now — thanks for nothing, Seasons! We may get another go on a Saturday, but as for Wednesdays, it’s all over for another year. I am just so amazed to be saddened by this, but it just goes to show that is you stick with something, make good decisions — many has been the time when I chose not to jump the tires, say, or do anything that didn’t feel right — and take a little risk that you can build up to bigger ones… well, it goes to show that you can make progress, no matter your bedrock fear. Don’t give up!


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