Fallen in love!

18 05 2012

Riding school this morning was ace, in spite of having been told that it would start at 06:30 today at the time I normally go to bed last night!

I started off mucking out Tosuka’s stall. Tosuka wasn’t in it. I don’t know whether Tosuka is male or female, which is why no pronouns will be used when talking about Tosuka (at least until I’ve worked out Tosuka’s gender). Heh.

Today, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that we’d be preparing the horses to be driven off to Baji Kouen to compete in trials this weekend, so I didn’t expect to get to ride at all. Only I did… and it was Hokon!!! 😀

I was one of three first years (as an exchange student I fit into that category by default) to ride him this morning. We’re back into trotting practice, and I’m not as good at it as I thought I was, but I’ve got plently of time to work on this! Hokon was wonderful to ride as usual (if a bit difficult to get moving at first), although I don’t mind admitting that when I was told to remain stood up in the stirrups while he continued to trot to find my balance, I was petrified I was going to fall. Heh. By the end of my session (which was good and long this time), I’d gotten into the rising trot okay, but my legs were very tired.

Afterwards, the other two first years had to leave to attend classes, so after one of the fouth-year sempai walked Hokon around the circular pen several times to cool down, myself and a second-year sempai lead him back to his stall and untacked him. She dealt with his saddle while I removed his bridle, and – this was so sweet – when I took it off him, he rubbed his face all over me. I know that he did this because he was itchy where the bridle had been, but he could have done it against the upper edge of the barrier to his stall, which was just as close to him, but he chose to rub it against me instead. Awww!

Then, I took his bridle away, washed and dried the bit and hung it up on its hook in the place where everything goes. We were going to wash his legs and face and groom him, so I put my gloves on and went off to fetch him, but I was stopped because Tifon was there and the two of them can’t be in the same place at the same time because they’re male and female and Hokon hasn’t been gelded. I didn’t know that before. So he’s a red-blooded stallion in addition to having a name that means ‘lance’ or ‘spear’? It shouldn’t matter, but somehow that makes him seem all the more badass. Heh.

So, we bided our time washing his face while we waited for Tifon to be lead out of the araiba (literally: ‘washing place’). I went in, put his head collar on him, to which he didn’t object, and tethered him to the front of his stall, then unfastened his head collar so I could get under it with the damp towel. Hokon kept beautifully still for me while I was washing his face, and although he kept biting the corners of the towel when they dropped near his mouth, he didn’t snap at me once. He even put his head down for me when I went to do behind his ears. In the past when I’ve done this, he’s lifted his head up out of my reach when I’ve gone to do this.

Once Tifon was successfully lead out, we lead Hokon in to take her place. I apologised to him before starting to clean his legs and hooves because I know he really doesn’t like it. Hewasdifficult on this occasion, but he didn’t try to kick me, he was just reluctant to give me his hooves so I could clean under them. We got there in the end though. I was very proud of him for not kicking.

Once that was done, I lead him out, tethered him outside on the other side of the stables and two of us set to work drying his legs. I dried under his hooves. He gave them to me and let me get on with it straight away this time. Then – and this was really sweet, too – I started to give him the once over with the curry comb, and as I was massaging his neck with it he started turning his head and arching his neck into me, sort of like a cat does when you rub behind its ears. My sempai commented that he seemed to be enjoying it. That made me happy. We had to pause for a while after that while two horses were loaded into the box, the first of whom – Napoleon – really didn’t want to go, and seemed to end up in there in the end because he got fed up with being coaxed and decided to charge the poor sempai who was trying to lead him in. She was thankfully okay, and the next horse to go in – Yuki – went silently and without a fuss. All the while, as there wasn’t a lot I could do, I stood beside Hokon and occasionally gave him a pat or a stroke to reassure him he wasn’t next.

Once the van drove away with the two horses safely secured inside, I finished grooming Hokon and lead him back into his stall, in which his dinner had been hung up, so he just stuck his nose straight in his feed bucket on getting back inside, only lifting his muzzle out of it so I could take his head collar off.

I know it’s silly but I am so besotted with that horse. It might be misguided, but I feel like we’ve bonded now. It’s going to be heartbreaking for me when I leave Japan knowing I’ll probably never see him again, but I’m not going to think about that until it happens.

In other news, in my Japanese class today my teacher suggested myself and the other student in her class each write a short composition and submit it to Asahi Shinbun (a Japanese daily broadsheet) for publication in their ‘Koe’ (voice) section. She has suggested I write about my experiences as a foreign student attending a riding club in Japan, as this is apparently unusual, and people would probably find my views interesting. I felt a bit nervous at this prospect when she put it to me, but then I suppose if I’m keeping a public journal of my experiences on the internet in English it’s not really that much of a leap in terms of self-confidence…

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