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I AM A RIDER What a day. It’s exactly the kind of day that causes Dubliners to remark to one another, known and unknown: ‘What a day!’ Bright, clear, bluest sky, the sun with some heat still in it, but the breath of a nip in the air. Simply gorgeous. Add to this the fact that I was as excited to go to my lesson this Saturday as if it were my third week, over one year ago, as excited as if I was still that early in the journey, a realization that only added to my sense of pure joy, as I’m the sort that picks up something, achieves a certain competency, and is off on the next thing fairly sharpish. This change in me seems to be maturity, then— and/or else everything else, every other interest was simply a side track to negotiate until I got here.

My Saturday routine has changed since last year, as the time of my lesson has changed, so now I take the 12.35 number 45 bus, one which tries my patience every single journey, and yet on every single journey does manage to get me to the bus stop past Cabinteely in time to be collected by Lainie and her mum, Lorraine. We are all delighted by the weather— what a day!— and I am stuffed full to the brim with well being.

Until Ruth tells me to take Tango. Read the rest of this entry »


SEPTEMBER 2007 We’re jumping a course. A course! It’s my second one, and
I. Love. It.

I’m on Delilah, and she’s not crazy about the sand arena, it’s hard on her and therefore it’s harder for me to keep my arse in the saddle in the canter. But we’re going great guns the second time around, or maybe its the third. There’s only three of us in the lesson, the woman on Rebel opts out, the guy in Mercury is new, and only jumps two fences.

I’m doing five.

I’m coming around to make a sixth, once more over the green striped cross poles, and Nikki’s shouting encouragement, the sun is setting in the West and the moment is absolutely cinematic, I am with Delilah, there is no separation, I think of her only nominally, we are moving together and the riding, the action is in my conscious awareness but it does not need to mediated or monitored in anyway… we’re perfectly lined up for the jump, Delilah is going, I’m not looking at the fence— and I know what it is this time, I understand what happens: Delilah begins to slow down her approach, and instead of keeping my seat and giving her a tap on the shoulder, I start to jump it for her. I know I’m doing it as I’m doing it, dammit, I’m too early, and she jumps, and my chest is at her ears and off I go, somewhat over her head and to the right.


Everybody goes, ‘Ohhhhhhhh!’ and I jump up, so annoyed with myself, but Nikki says I would have gotten a ribbon anyway.

My sixth fall.

I meant to pace more slowly the posting of these last two entries in my catalogue of falls, but… [drumroll, please…]

JULY, 2007 I try another stable for a private lesson.

I feel like I’m having an affair. Read the rest of this entry »

JUNE 2007 We’re out in the field, going over the cross country fences. Three in a row, Delilah loves it, loves being outside, she’s fast and it’s uphill over the tires, then a plank fence, then up and around to a log, maybe 30 cms, not much.

We’re coming around, and she feels… sluggish? I give her a tap with the whip, and we approach the fence, I’m struggling as usual to get her straight, I think she’d pop over the fences sideways if she could, and we’re going, and we’re up— Read the rest of this entry »

26 MAY, 2007 I’d had Tango once before, in a small class of only three. I got up, he immediately began stepping backwards. I’m trying to get the length of the leathers right— ‘Tango!’— I keep letting out the reins, kicking him on, he stops, I adjust a stirrup, he dances back.


We get going: he’s a tough one, but he feels good, apart from the backwards-walking thing every time we halt; he jumps like a dream, a star, I yip with joy as we clear the fence at the canter, his whole body collecting and rising and it feels like a proper jump.

So I’m happy enough to try him again, he’s still slow into the gaits, I know my leg isn’t strong enough, I know— but we get a good canter up, I’m passing out the ride, and we’re coming around to the front, and I’m shifting just that bit to shorten up the reins— Read the rest of this entry »

CATALOGUE OF FALLS Heidi said a hundred! But Sara was like, noooo— seven. Seven falls make a rider. I seem to remember coming across the number ten, on a horsey board on the internet…

Gooooogle… hmm. Nothing. I’ll check again [I should really be working…]— ack, some nutter on Yahoo! Answers said 1,000! No way!

I’ve posted the question myself. We’ll see.

I like seven.

I’ve fallen six times so far.

UPDATE: Yahoo! Answers apparently is peopled by people who answer questions whether or not they have even the remotest expertise in relation to the query, but I did get an answer that approached the question with the correct amount of humour and an appreciation for the old-wives’-tale vibe of it. And it was the answer I wanted, so of course it was right.

CATALOGUE OF FALLS Thursday night lesson, outdoor arena. Beautiful evening, spring is sprung, golden light. Six are in the lesson. I’m on Delilah, Charlie is first, then Rebel, then us. Emma is making us trot large in jumping position. I’m trying to break the mane-grabbing habit, and we come around F and I’m shortening the reins a bit, holding the reins and only the reins, and I see Charlie’s ears perk up, see him glance left, and Rebel, who has a boy crush on Charlie, looks and— is he slowing down?— and CRASH! And Charlie and Rebel and Delilah all leap right, Delilah has the farthest to go without disappearing entirely up Rebel’s behind, and I have a split-millisecond to recover— Read the rest of this entry »


Twelve years on from my first ever riding lesson, these posts are still wandering round and round, a figure of eight starting with today, probably, and yesterday, definitely. It’s the antithesis of how I usually do things, but… that’s horses for ya.


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