Moving on Up

29 04 2012

Today’s horse riding session came as a welcome return to the format I’d become accustomed to after three days running of not being permitted to ride myself and being given the most menial of jobs to do around the stables that brought me into minimal contact with the horses themselves.

I arrived and was immediately put to work cleaning out Hokon’s stable while he was taken outside for the experienced riders to practise on. I feel like I’m getting the hang of mucking out stalls now. It’s pretty strenuous when you’re still getting used to it, and as with everything in Japan there’s a Right way to do it; there’s no ‘whatever method works for you, as long as you can get the job done’, as seems to be the approach favoured in the West. I’m getting faster at it, though, and I can feel myself becoming stronger through doing it. I hoped that my having been in there sweating and straining will have left my scent in there for when Hokon returned; I’ve really taken a shine to him, even though he is a bit of a primadonna.

After watching the upper year students practice show jumping for a while and having made an almighty fuss of Hokon himself, who had been in the circular lunging pen for a while after having his saddle and bridle removed (he had been rolling around in the mud with his legs in the air, and pricked his ears up in my direction and came over to where I was standing when I called him, then snuzzled me over the fence when I went over to pat him on the neck, instantly muddying my clean, white trousers), I was given a turn at walking and trotting practice, on Max this time.

They’re still not letting me ride independently just yet, but from today I’ve been progressed from practising on a lead being held by a sempai who walked or ran alongside myself to riding around in a circle with the horse tethered on a long, elastic lead held by a sempai in the middle. Today, my instruction came from the sempai whose emails are the reason I’m a member of the club today. She was very complimentary, saying afterwards that my trot had been ‘kirei’ (which either means ‘clean’ or ‘beautiful’ depending on the context, so I’m not sure exactly what she meant, but it was good either way); her criticisms of me were that I need to remember to keep my heels down, relax my body, and to look where I’m going and not at the horse. Heh.

Then we took Max off and gave him a wash, dried him off and groomed him. He was beautifully well behaved, but in the process of attempting to give him a good scrub assisted by the hose, I also succeeded in giving myself a shower, including in my face. Heh. Thankfully, it was a beautiful, sunny day, so I dried off quickly.

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