Sunday, July 5, 2009
This is Loki. He's dark and handsome and when I ride him it's like having a conversation with a friend.
It wasn't always this way. The first time I rode him I was terrified for he has a reputation for 'fun' - in horsey speak this means he likes to buck. I was so scared I was trembling and it was all I could do to sit deep in the saddle with my chest stuck out, smiling madly (first rule of riding - 'tits and teeth').
Fear is a physical thing and no joking matter. "Pull yourself together," are the most useless words in the English language - for of course I would pull myself together if I could only first banish the lurid vision of my body sprawled, broken and limp, on the sand of the jumping arena.
I jumped Loki round a small course while the howling banshee of fear screeched:'Hang up your jodhpurs, you irresponsible woman, there are four little children depending on you'.
He bucked once but it wasn't so awful, he didn't drop his shoulder and he didn't twist - I've been bumped more violently over speed ramps in the car.
Second time I rode him, he looked pleased to see me. He blew in my hair when I tacked him up, he dropped his head into the bit. He stood like a gentleman to be mounted, and we managed the gate perfectly together. A car backfired, a helipcopter came overhead very low, a dog barked furiously at him - there was no bucking, no shying, no bolting. At one point I actually thought he turned his head round to smile at me. We jumped a bigger course at a canter; it was like flying. My fear disappeared.
Now I'm not afraid anymore I can enjoy the 'fun' side of Loki - the exuberant bucks with his tongue hanging like a halfwit are, in Ireland, what we call 'eejiting around'. There is no malice involved. Should I fall off, I think he'd be as shocked and disappointed as me.