Can every day be like today for a while, please?

15 05 2012

Today was a really lovely day, in spite of the rain! I had some really lovely interactions with a couple of the horses.

First was Hokon. I’m so sorry to keep banging on about him when there’s nine whole other horses (and two ponies), but he’s lovely! First thing this morning, because the high-schoolers are away this week, everyone (myself included this time) got to work mucking out the stalls; generally the new member first years all race for the empty stalls because it’s easier to clean them out if the horse is not actually in them, but I’ve now realised this is the case and just go for the first one I get to that’s not already being done. Even though it’s the first one you pass on the way back from the place where the forks and wheelbarrows are stored, everyone just walked straight past Hokon, so I decided to indulge my soft spot for him by cleaning his stall out.

Hokon is said to be fairly difficult when you have to go into his stall to do anything. He’s known to kick (which I’ve experienced first hand while attempting to wash and groom him as previously documented), and sometimes snaps as though he intends to bite you as well. He was on beautifully good form for me this morning, though. When I went in to put his head collar on him and tether him by the rope lead to the front of his stall, he stood very still and let me put it on him, although on the first attempt he took the bottom strap in his mouth as though it was the bit, and I had to prize it out again. Heh. While I was tying the rope, he snuzzled my arm and gently nipped it, leaving a bruise, but while this might be misguided I don’t think this was an act of aggression. While I got on with the task at hand, he stayed very patiently out of my way, occasionally turning to see what I was doing, and even moving out of the way for me when my fork went near his hooves, calmly and not nervously. When I was done I gave him a pat on the neck, and ended up hugging him again. </soppy>

Next up, after helping to sweep up and watching the more experienced riders’ practice, I had more instruction in walking independently, on Shirika for the second time. I was a little concerned on discovering that she was going to be my mount for today after what happened last time I rode her, but today she was like an entirely different horse. Whereas last time I found her to be perfectly mind-mannered but unresponsive to my commands and difficult to keep moving, today she just did everything I asked her to on the first go without any trouble. We practised walking in a straight line, turning, circling and changing direction, and although that might not sound terribly exciting, to me it felt really magical because it just worked. All of this was made much more epic for the fact that when I mounted her there was only one other horse remaining in the training ground and the heavens had just opened, so I was riding in the pouring rain. I didn’t mind at all; it just made it all feel more dramatic.

Usually they would have me dismount in the training ground and lead the horse out, unless someone else was having a turn after me, but today they opened the gate and let me ride her out into the yard by myself. Here, Shirika spooked a couple of times at the sound of what I think was someone sweeping around the corner of the stable out of sight. Unlike last time when this happened when I was riding Tifon, it didn’t catch me off guard, and I was able to quickly rein her back in as it felt like she was just going to run. No sooner had that happened, than she did it again, and the same thing happened again. This time the sempai who’d been instructing me saw what was happening, grabbed hold of the reins and told me to stop and dismount. After that we lead her into the horses’ shower area, cleaned her hooves and legs and then, because it was raining, tethered her up outside her stall to be groomed and have her face washed. This happened around feeding time, so while we were doing this we had a sempai holding her feed bucket up for her so she didn’t have to feel left out while the other horses stuffed their faces. Shirika got a pat on the neck and a hug too, after I lead her back into her stall.

If every day was like today I would be very happy indeed!

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