17 05 2012

Another morning of lovely horse interactions…

First up, Hokon again. After the register is taken, we all pile off to get on with bucket collecting/cleaning and mucking out stalls. After collecting a fork and a wheelbarrow, I trundled past Hokon’s stall. His food and water buckets had been left in situ and his stall looked empty, so I stopped and looked inside to see him lying down on the sawdust. I called out to him and bade him good morning, but he just looked up at me blankly. I thought about going and getting someone more experienced to help me get him up, but I thought I’d have a go myself first. After removing his buckets through the window to his stall, I opened the door and called out to him again, and without any further prompting he stood up and turned around. When I came close to his head with his head-collar in my hand, before I had time to hook my arm over his muzzle and gently pull it down onto my shoulder, he very obligingly put it down of his own accord, and when I held up the collar pushed his face into it himself, so all I had to do was pull it over his ears. Once I’d fastened it I only had to lead him a couple of paces to the front of his stall to tether him, and as I was doing so he turned his head and gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then one of the boys appeared out of nowhere, thanked me and went to clean his hooves. I patted him on the neck and told him he’d been good, then left the stall while the other chap finished and lead him outside to tack him up before setting to work. I’m happy to steal whatever attention from that horse I can get. Heh.

Every morning, while the first years and/or high schoolers (who are away at present) do the mucking out and whatnot, the upper year students decide who gets to ride whom. They then write the students’ names next to that of the horse they are going to be riding. As a rule, if you’re name’s not on the board, you’re not riding. After finishing with the sodden-sawdust shovelling, I checked the board, to see, to my disappointment, that my name was not up there. So, I just went outside to watch the other riders practice, and open the gate whenever someone wanted to enter or exit the training ground.

However, I was then surprised when the team captain called out to me and told me to get ready to ride, after all of the other first years had either taken their turn or left due to having a lesson start. Today, I was to ride Tifon again, and carry on doing basic walking practice under the instruction of a second-year sempai (whose instructions are really clear).

I don’t know what breed any of the horses are, but due to their height and build I suspect they are all either thoroughbreds or warmbloods (although none of them bear any brands). Tifon is a tall, dark brown female with black legs and a black mane; although unlike the other brown horses she has no white spots on her body (save for a very small star on her forehead), her otherwise-black tail has white streaks through it, which is very pretty. Maybe I just haven’t spent enough time around her to notice, but she doesn’t seem to have much in the way of personality, being mostly mild-mannered and obedient, but she is beautiful. Today, she was slightly awkward to ride as she kept stopping and not responding to my commands for her to keep moving, but we got there in the end. I really need to remember to relax in the saddle, though; it makes such a huge difference, but it’s hard to remember to when you’re concentrating on doing the right thing with the other parts of your body at the same time! I’m sure with practice I’ll get there, eventually… Oh, and from hearing it again I remembered that term I’d forgotten! It’s nama-tenshin; literally, ‘changing course halfway’.

After dismounting, I briefly went and helped roll up protective bandages that had been washed and dried. While I was doing this, horses were coming and going through the stable on their way to and from the washing-area, so to keep out of the way I stood outside Shirika’s stall. Shirika is a funny horse. She put her head forward for me to pet her when I put my hand in through the bars, but when I withdrew it to carry on with what I was doing, she lifted her head up high and looked down on me with one eye, showing the whites of her eye as though she was scared or angry, but she didn’t look either – she just looked comical. In fact, it reminded me of that bit in An American Tail – Fievel Goes West, if you’ve seen it, when they talk about how you size someone up by giving them the lazy eye. Heh. Silly horse is silly.

Perhaps the most awesome thing that happened to me today, however, was meeting the chap who got me there in the first place – finally! If you’ve read my first entry, I’m referring to the email contact who very kindly put me in touch with the club after I emailed the owner of the ‘Riding Clubs in Tokyo‘ website. I was sweeping up the yard, and he approached me and said, ‘You are Carrie!’ – so nice to be remembered! He introduced himself, and after my initial stunned silence and thanking him for helping me, we had a brief chat, wherein he asked me about my past riding experience. I was so stunned by this that I didn’t remember to ask him whether he’d trained in England, which I’ve been curious about since he speaks English fluently and has an English nickname. I hope that won’t be the last time I see him! He was such a lovely gentleman.




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