BRONWEN HEALY PHOTOGRAPHY

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13 May 2013

Riding in the rain?

Canberra is cool and showery today. I've got my riding/jumping lesson in less than an hour. In years gone by, a rainy day was the perfect excuse to say bugger schooling my horse, lets go for a wild ride in the rain instead.

My horse back then was fit and sound, so a strong ride out, where we were hardly ever out of a canter and frequently galloping with an "I don't care what happens" attitude didn't present any problems or fears of him going lame. The fact that this horse was more than a little bit bonkers didn't ever deter me from this sort of riding, because when we were in this frame of mind, I wasn't trying to suppress that natural tendency of the thoroughbred to run. And an ex racer has more difficulty that desire than an un raced one. Tickles, yes, that was his name, was also fiercely stubborn and arrogant. He liked to do things his way, or not at all.

Fighting him wasn't an option. He was big, strong and fierce. And I was tiny. I once took him to a show jumping clinic with Vicki Roycroft. She used to jump for Australia. Her father won an Olympic Hold Medal. It was a family steeped in riding. She thought I was being soft and ineffective when he flipped out and refused to cooperate. He would stop. Rear. Spin. Rear. Stop. Spin. And head for the walls of the indoor. I'm sure once he had a long think about jumping out.

Then she got on him. My Dad watched that lesson. Frowning in concern. It took her over half an hour to get him to stop rearing and finally go over the jump. When i got back on she stopped shouting at me, and said to the class on a loud voice as I approached the jump "steady, steady, steady..... This horse is COMPLICATED". We did the jump and finished the lesson. She told me the horse had clear ability. But sell him and "get yourself a nice horse".

Perhaps I am a sucker for lost causes? But I loved the horse. He was my friend and ally. So although our confidence was in tatters, a week later I took him to the man who became my long term dressage coach till he died of cancer recently. Edgar was German. But his approach was to not fight the horse, to earn his trust, and to teach him to learn to work with me.

Tickles didn't ever get very far levels wise, and he wasn't ever a horse that could cope with pressure. But he changed from rogue and un rideable to being a pretty nice horse in the end. Provided you didn't push him too far out of his comfort zone. I guess we all have our comfort zones so looking back, I can't blame him for this.

Today I won't be riding anything like him. I'll probably ride Buddy again. He's nice, and looks after the rider. I'm a long way past the girl who used to fling her horse into a gallop to get rid of the demons from a bad day. I have a blinding headache today and haven't slept much lately. But riding a cantering horse, and jumping again, will be excellent for me today.
Postscript: the twist to the riding ambitions this morning was that my instructor didn't look at his book and wasn't reminded. And is out driving horses today and doing jobs. So my riding therapy will have to wait till later in the week, or next week. And that's a bit of a blow. 

I will clean my house instead, before sitting down with the bookwork and tax returns. The bags of old clothes, that no longer fit and are faded and worn, as well as the bag containing unwanted items sitting in my entry way can all go in the bin. As did the large pile of newspapers, after an hour of sitting cross legged on the floor sorting through my images published to be invoiced and Nelly clippings to be kept.   That is once I can prise a purring creamy kitty from my lap. And later this week I can hopefully go and buy a new silver chain. My brother bought the kids the prettiest white gold sapphire pendant to give to me for Mother's Day. It needs a proper chain though. And I don't have a spare one.
Tickles and I gallop along the beach at Moruya.  It was the only time I ever got him to the beach.  It was a 2km problematic ride along a busy highway to get from the farm I was minding with him to the beach.  Tickles was not the sort of horse that problematic rides were good for. He thought nothing of dancing sideways across the road into oncoming traffic. And he wasn't the kind of horse to stop and check if anything was coming. He was a dummy spitter...
My Freelance, whom I still own.  Age 1 day..
Freelance and I.  We loved red.
Back riding with Edgar again.  He liked Freelance more than Tickles. Probably because her sire was his own stallion Falkland II.  A vastly different kind of horse.  Not a fanger.  Freelance thinks galloping is undignified, and didn't understand that loosening the reins by 2 inches and leaning forward in the saddle was her cue to burst into a full gallop in an instant.


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