On the Back of a Horse

9 05 2012

Today’s session was cut a little bit short for me today due to a misunderstanding. I don’t have any classes on Wednesday mornings, but the girl I was helping did, and thought I did too; since she and I both attend classes at then Women’s College rather than at the main campus (which is where the stables are), she womanhandled me into putting the brush I had in my hand down (I had been grooming Tifon) and into the girl’s changing room. It wasn’t until I got there that she asked me, in response to my objections of I don’t understand, what’s going on?, to confirm that I had a lesson starting at 10:40. By this point the sempai had already dismissed me, so I just got changed and left with her anyway. Next time something like that happens – if it does happen – I’ll be more forward about it. I was just really bemused this morning, and assumed I must have somehow missed the memo on something important!

I didn’t feel short changed about it, anyway, because I got to have a nice, long ride today. It couldn’t have been more than half an hour, but given than I usually don’t get more than fifteen minutes at a time, it was heavenly! I rode Tifon today – the horse who broke my foot last week. She was lovely to ride, actually; possibly the tallest horse I’ve ever mounted, very responsive and comfortable, so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment that this came about after I’d initially been told I’d be riding Hokon.

Today, I mounted her in the yard and rode her into the training area myself. They had cordoned off an area within it for me to practise in. The order of the day for me was walking practice, with practice at standing up and sitting down in the saddle on a moving horse with one-on-one instruction from a sempai. I’m still finding it really hard to do for more than a couple of minutes at a time, and I had trouble getting Tifon to walk close to the fence at the edge of the area, which has a narrow patch of trees on the other side of it. She really didn’t want to get close to it, and even spooked at one point while we were walking along it, so I suspect she might be afraid of what might be lurking in there (most commonly feral cats or raccoons, which are known to frighten the horses).

While her spooking did put the wind up me, she didn’t bolt, thankfully, and we continued walking along as we had been. It might have been exciting if she had done, though. Heh.

After we’d done a few laps in either direction of the little cordoned-off area and gone around the middle of it in circles a few times, I was called to bring Tifon to a stop in the centre to dismount and let the next rider have her turn. When we do this, the person who has just dismounted assists the other person in mounting up and whatnot, so I walked in front of Tifon and took the reins in my hands on either side. From this position, I can also check before the rider mounts that their stirrups are fixed at the same length. If a third person is available, they hold on to the stirrup on the opposite side while the rider mounts the horse, both so that they can get their foot it in easily and to make the saddle (and the horse!) hold still while they get into it. Then, if they used a crate as a step, you take that away with you as you leave the training ground. After she had finished her practices, we lead Tifon back to the stable, washed her legs, hooves and face, dried her and groomed her. Our abrupt exit meant that we left her tethered in front of the stables for someone else to pick up where we left off; I felt a wee bit bad about that.

Prior to all of that, chores I had participated in included bucket collecting and cleaning, sweeping and scrubbing all the trapped fur out of horse blankets before they went in with the other laundry, and immediately after riding practice I helped collect all the manure out of the training ground – all the glamorous jobs. Heh. Again, today I was beaten to mucking out any of the stalls; it’s a shame, because while I acknowledge that it’s perhaps not the most dignified of jobs I kind of really enjoy it. Heh.

I noticed a problem while I was riding, however; my boots being too big for me is causing me to experience difficulties whilst riding that I think a better-fitting pair would fix. It’s hard to describe how, but if affects my ability to stand and kick. The trouble is, I can’t really afford to get another pair for what they cost to buy in Japan. Given the problem I have with the width of my calves, I would have to buy short boots and chaps if I bought some purpose-made riding boots here in Japan, which, although it would be cheaper than buying a pair of tall boots, still wouldn’t leave me a lot to live on for the next three months. Another problem is that while I could hypothetically order some from the UK, the cost of postage would be high, there is hefty import duty to pay on leather goods coming into Japan, and I’m not convinced the authorities would know the difference between real leather and equileather. Dilemma!…




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