Friday was my day off and I had arranged to take Merlyn out for our first solo hack, which for some reason I was feeling relatively relaxed about. You know sometimes when you just need a while to adapt to an idea and your anxiety about it diminishes enough over time to allow you to move on.
Well, that is where we got to
I arrived at Ali's to find him out in the field, so got to do the whole caboodle, catch, groom, pick feet, tack, skoosh with fly spray, the works. I know you must get quicker at this over time, but it was over twenty Celsius even at ten in the morning and the sweat was pouring off me. I have started to realise that I might like to get picking feet out the way early so I can enjoy the rest of the grooming time, hard-heavy-legged-muddy-clogged-feet lifting-bit over and done with.
About an hour and a quarter later I was ready to go, and we set off on our route around the quiet country roads. I was just out the driveway when we found our first challenge, the next door house had a van and some painters up a ladder, so he startled and whirled around, stood a moment and we moved on.....okay, now breathe.
Down the lane we go, with a couple of random jolts at nothing my human eyes and ears can discern. We are okay, but clearly a little on edge today.
Next obstacle is the riding school gate which today we must pass by, but often will be the destination. 'What do you mean keep going' he says....'No, we are going in there are we not?' he says. 'No Merlyn, we are not' I say pushing him on. 'I don't want to go that way' he answers my leg, he is moving backwards and sideways, any way but on. I wonder if Carolyn, the riding instructor can see me through her windows. What would she think? 'Get on' I push, backing up with the crop and after a few more moments resisting he does. I breathe again....
I notice my mouth is a little dry and feign a relaxed seat but thinking all the while, gluing my thighs to the saddle and consciously heels down, legs pushed forward, the words of Kerry, my other riding instructor ringing in my ears 'your leg position will be your undo-ing, push them forward'.
We make it around the next corner, but he is on edge and I am now expecting anything. I am right. Out of the blue he lurches to the left in a good old nearly-but-not-quite-unseated-you manoeuvre. I am still there but I am conscious how sore a landing on a road would be. One foot is firm in the stirrup iron, but the other leg has to root around to find its proper place again and my mouth is as dry as a desert.
|we should be going straight on but we swerved into the left...that road would be sore|
Then I override it all. 'You either want to do this or you don't....are you giving up?' That is the last word and we push on. It wasn't plain sailing for at least another fifteen minutes. We had a tractor to meet and get past without entering someones garden along the way -he had a good old try - another car coming behind us while we walked down hill 'sorry you can't hurry us, you will have to wait, please be good Merlyn' and then some general spookiness while we trotted along on the flat just short of the half way mark.
Form then...wonderful. Good as gold, did not flinch at anything for the rest of the way. We relaxed, we enjoyed, we made it the whole way, and you know what....we were just fine.
I was parched when I got back and guzzled down nearly as much water as a now sweaty Merlyn,
Finally I turned him and watched him roll around on his glossy groomed black coat which I had sweated over just hours before and cake his feet in mud once more. And with that we are all right back where we started, but officially a little braver than before.