Make Hay Not War

18 04 2012

Every day I show up to riding club, what I get put to work doing is a surprise. My surprise upon attending riding club today was learning how to prepare the horses’ food again I think I got it this time! However, what do horses mostly eat? Hay! And what do I suffer from? Hay fever! I had no idea this was so literal. I came out in hives! I’ve got some antihistamine cream, I’ll have to start bringing it with me, and possibly wearing one of those health masks that are popular in Japan while I’m in the stable as a precaution in future.

Fortunately the worst of this cleared up when we’d finished and I went out into the yard. I rode Hokon again, and he was an absolute darling today. Although I still haven’t been let off the lead yet, I think this will happen soon; today, the first sempai I had asked me if I knew how to tell a horse how to stop and go, which I answered by demonstrating rather than with words, and the second one was instructing me to do a bunch of weird stretches I’m not familiar with as we were walking along that either required me to reach the opposite side of the horse with my one free hand (back and front) or have my feet out of the stirrups and point with either my toe or my heel. He complimented me on both my ability to follow his instructions and how I did. It wasn’t difficult or strenuous at the time, but when I jumped back down off Hokon’s back I really felt it in all of my muscles.

Next, I was asked to help a different sempai and another newbie to groom Max. This was the same sempai who’d noticed the mistake with the brush yesterday. She told me to wash his face; he was initially unsettled upon seeing me, which made me hesitate but she told me not to worry. When I first put my hand up he tried to bite me, so I took a firm hold of his bridle, pulled down and just got on with it without looking him in the eye. He wriggled at first and kept tossing his head up forcefully, so I gently pulled it down by wrapping my arm under his head and cleaned behind his ears, and he settled down after that and let me finish his face. We cut his mane after that, which I didn’t really want to take part in; I think horses look lovely with long, flowing manes. However, Max was perfectly calm from then on, and every time I walked past his stall afterwards he stuck his head out and let me pat his nose. I hope that means we’re friends now.

I finished up by assisting in grooming the ponies and cleaning their hooves, and then sweeping up. I actually got to stay to the finish this time, but it really took it out of me, and I was tired and struggled to contribute in my Japanese classes after that.

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