Unexpected Pleasures

Most days get made by unexpected things.

If you’ve read my post “Anyone for Buckaroo?” then you’ll know that my last hacking experience left something to be desired. Today, however, could not have been more different.

It was a busy day on the yard with back to back lessons all day. Angie was teaching though, so Sonya and I were able to do the yard work and poo pick etc. I was given the somewhat monumental task of bathing Miss Maggie May (the massive Irish Draught mare) as she was covered in brown and green stains. Did I mention she’s a fleabitten grey? Well, she is. Although, she wasn’t this morning. She was a good girl though, and looked lovely and shiny when I’d finished. I do love a clean horse!

Despite the business of lessons and small workforce it was actually a very relaxed kind of day. When Sonya asked me what I wanted to do riding wise, I was not able to give her much of a clue as I really did not mind what I did. In the end she asked the very ominous question of “How brave are you feeling?” I think I gave her a very odd look as she started laughing at me, but I immediately thought “oh my, what is she planning?”

After continuing to laugh for a while at the look on my face, she turned to me and said “I’m tempted to say ride Maggie, because she challenges you, and I think you need that” I understood that, and agreed with her, as despite my reservations about the mare, I am beginning to develop a feel for her and am gradually building in confidence when riding her. So the thought of riding her today did not fill me with the same “oh god no” as it has before. In fact, I kind of wanted to once she’d suggested it. What she said next, however, was not expected. “How about going down to cross-country and popping over some of the log jumps or something?”

“Blimey, that could be interesting” went my brain. It didn’t make me feel anxious though, just quite keen to give it a go. So I agreed that I would be happy to go down and do that. The next question on Sonya’s mind was whether to come down on foot to instruct me, or whether to ride down on Africa and have a go at the same time. After a bit of umming and aahing, she came to the decision that because she wasn’t sure whether to do it or not, she should definitely do it. In the end she decided that we’d have a little hack first as the last time she took Africa to the cross-country field there was an awful lot of bucking and over-excitement going on.

So we hacked. And, it was brilliant. We went a way I hadn’t been before, down the railway tracks and across the estate on the college side of the road. Along the railway there were several wooden jumps on the path, there were large ones but with smaller ones next to them. So on the way out we walked over them, encouraging Maggie and Afri to lift their feet up and step over them. We then continued down the track and up a slight hill into a large field. Once we’d got up the top of the hill I looked across the field and thought “WOW”. It was totally stunning. The sun had honoured us by giving everything a golden hue, and the breeze across the crop fields made the most wonderful “hushhhhhhh” sound. Looking across at the different fields, some with horses, some with sheep, some with nothing, all I could do was marvel at what a beautiful area I get to spend time in.

After wandering around the edge of a couple of fields, chatting and sympathising with the horses over the nasty bloodsucker flies that were around, we had a trot up the hill until Maggie decided she couldn’t possibly trot anymore because the plants underfoot were getting too thick. We carried on moseying on around the fields, wondering at the incredible mix of crops that had been planted together. Once we got to a certain point, Sonya decided we’d turn around and go back round the second field, rejoining our path at a different point. We’d trotted a couple of times by this point, and the mares were both feeling pretty mellow and relaxed by the whole affair so Sonya asked how I’d feel about a canter. “Sure” I said; Maggie was so chilled that I really didn’t think she’d take off, and even if she did there was a nice long stretch in front of us which would give me time to pull her up.

So Sonya and Africa kicked off and started cantering down the path, while Maggie said “Naaaaah, not today.” After a bit we finally started to canter, and man it was awesome. I popped into light seat, and we cantered along so smoothly and steadily I could’ve done it all day. It was one of the best canters I’ve ever experienced. We had no issues pulling back into trot and continued having a really pleasant time all the way back onto the railway tracks. We then trotted along and actually jumped over the wooden jumps we’d stepped over earlier.

All in all, it was the epitome of happy hacking. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience to boost my confidence and remind me that things don’t always go badly, after last time. I’m delighted that I was able to go and do that, and very grateful to Sonya for giving me the chance to get my confidence back with hacking. It’s also continued to add to my faith in Maggie and I’m really starting to enjoy riding her.

The only downside to the day was seeing how sad Nizz was when she found out that Fern’s owner was selling her which means Ferny will probably be leaving college at some point soon. Nizz has a real love for that horse and the pair of them really seem to understand each other while riding. I think it is a genuine shame that Nizz will lose that. If I had the ability, I would buy that horse straight away and give her to the lovely Nizz as a gift. But, alas, I have no way of purchasing a horse. Otherwise I would be finding a way of making the wonderful Mr Star my own.

 It was a nice day to be on the yard and really reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s important to allow yourself time to feel reassured and comforted in your own choices. I spend so much of my time doubting, questioning and wondering whether I’m really on the right path that when a day comes along to reaffirm my decisions, it’s a very refreshing and welcome day indeed.

Thank you, Saturday!

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