Our first riding lesson this morning went well, ironically at the same place that Jezabel is stabled. She’s quite a gorgeous horse, very ladylike but shy, she hung out of her open door and watched proceedings with interest as we strutted and posed around the yard, Mac and I in brand new riding boots. David came along – he’s clearly still worried that I’m going to sign something. Mac looked adorable in his tiny little hard hat and had, what the instructor Anna called, “a natural seat”. His pony was called Boomerang “because she always comes back” Anna hooted, slapping her jodhpured thigh. This didn’t fill me with confidence but soon Mac was walking round the yard like a mini John Wayne telling me “this is lovely mummy!”. In his getting to know Frisby session, he had cupped her nose in his hands and gave her a big kiss. This endeared him, not only to Frisby, but to the watching stable hands and Anna.
I made sure he was settled and happy before I was introduced to my horse Blue. A gorgeous black, almost purple, horse with a shock of white running down his nose, he responded well to my ministrations and the sugar lumps I bribed him with. Anna listened with interest as I told her about being thrown from Bandit and assured me that Blue was a “docile lump”. He certainly was. Five attempts to hoik myself up into the saddle and he barely moved an inch. You could almost hear him saying “oh, for gawd’s sake, get a move on”. If he’d worn a watch, he’d have checked it whilst sighing. I eventually found “my seat” and gently moved off – one whiff of a “walk on” and Blue was off. All the horses at the stables were clearly well looked after – they seemed almost human and you could almost imagine them sitting round together after lights out having chats. Or is that just the way my mind works? Anyway. They certainly looked at home, one horse was having a wash and stood quite placidlyas he had his tail shampooed. David was wandering round as I left the yard, in his “lord of the manner” walk he affects from time to time. He certainly looked at home talking to the horses. Perhaps I could still convince him…….?
Mac and I met up at the gate that led to woods – the plan was to hack along for a while to see how we got on. Mac was clearly confident, he was steering and everything with a confidence I once had, and once he even turned round to look at me without wobbling once. My experience with Bandit shook me badly, the throw was quite a bad one and I was bruised for weeks afterwards - and not just my ego. But on Blue I felt safe, not quite “as one” as Mac was obviously feeling but a lot more relaxed than I thought I would be. I even relaxed the reins enough to run my hand up and down his mane. He really is a beautiful horse – I got quite emotional as we wandered along. After about half an hour of this gentle stroll, Jim, the guide with us, halted us at the end of the path and asked if we were okay. Mac responded positively, as did the other people with us, I could only nod my head and wobble a “yes”. I was overcome with gratitude that Blue hadn’t throw me yet nor was spooked by that fox that shot out of the woods. During that half an hour stroll past trees, whilst the birds tweeted, on that undulating path,something awoke inside me – even Blue seemed to twig something magical was happening, he kept snorting and trying to look over his shoulder at me.
Heading back, Blue was even more of a gentleman. My eyes were blurred with tears that I was self consciously wiping from my eyes. One of the other riders,a kindly looking woman in well worn riding gear, asked me if I was okay. I wobbled another “yes” and dear old Blue stopped to allow me to regain my composure. We then brought up the rear, his stroll even more gentle as he looked after the blubbing wreck on his back. David was waiting for us when we returned to the yard and he practically caught me as I dismounted. “What on earth happened?” he asked in horror as he saw my mascara covered face. “Nothing, it was beautiful!” I sobbed as I hung round Blue’s neck, kissing his beautiful face and diving down my pockets for more sugar lumps. David looked quite concerned – as well he might, his wife was practically snogging a stunning stallion’s neck while he breathed softly in my ear. All we needed was a cheesy sound track. Mac was seemingly unperturbed by his mothers emotions and immediately demanded that I go into the office and book more lessons. David deposited me in the front seat of the car with a packet of wine gums before returning to the office to do just that.
Non-horsey people – and I classed myself as that only yesterday - may question my sanity. David certainly did and kept asking me why I was crying when I was so happy. I had put my trust in Blue and he’d repaid me a thousand times by being so gentle, because he sensed my fear. I’d got my confidence back and can’t wait to get back to the stables. I’ve spent the day drifting around dreamily, shoving popcorn down my neck, Mac watched the Cup Final wearing my colander on his head and “riding” the arm of the sofa.
However, the wind has been knocked from my sails somewhat: I've just rung Ginny to report back. I filled her in on how emotional it was and all she could say was “Darling! You were so lucky! You could have transmitted your fear to the bloody horse and he’d have ended up carting you to Bexley Town Centre! What a hoot that would have been!”