I was all hot and bothered today.
On a street corner too. Okay, so technically not a corner. More a corner of wall at the end of one of the college driveways. And I wasn’t just sitting there for fun, I might add. It all had a purpose. Although I’ll admit to getting a lot of strange looks from passing motorists as well as the occasional, and rather obvious, point and laugh. Which, if I’m honest, hurt a little bit. I was only sitting there after all, it’s not like I was doing anything entertaining.
The college put on a Fun Ride today. Hence the sitting on wall thing. I was there to direct incoming horse trailers and boxes to the correct entrance and to instruct them how to find the car park. Or at least, how to get to someone else who could tell them where the car park was. So I sat there, wearing the rather fetching ensemble of jod boots and socks, shorts, a polo shirt, and a hi-vis vest. Oh yes. Working It!
Hi-vis is my new best friend. Not.
It was baking out there though. I’d generously whacked on the factor 50+ again, this time going over and over with more and more layers to be absolutely sure the bloody sun didn’t lobsterfy me again. And, hurrah huzzah and hip hip hooray, it worked! I am not burned. I am lightly tanned instead. Still pale as anything, but less “oh my god fetch my sunglasses the glare is incredible” and more “haha, you’re really pale”.
So that’s something.
For the first couple of hours I was quite content to be honest. I did a lot of directing(another of my many hidden talents) and spent the rest of the time looking up at the beautiful blue sky and humming to myself. I also chatted to a gentleman who was holidaying at the Holme Lacy House Hotel and had come into the village for a walk. He was telling me all about his dog swimming in the sea at one point.
Look at the pretty sky though. Lovely stuff! Later on in the afternoon, after I’d come back from grabbing a drink and a bite to eat (and reapplying sun cream for the hundredth time) I ended up chatting to a lovely man and his family who had pulled in to park just behind me. We had a good old natter about the college and what the fun ride was and my course and how I’d enjoyed it and what I was going to do next. He professed delight at hearing my thoughts on the course and how much I’d gained from the college before dropping the casual bomb that he was, in fact, the Principal of the whole place. He apologised for the fact that he was in casual trousers and a shirt rather than full suit. At which point I interjected with, “You don’t need to apologise to a girl in shorts and jod boots.”
When I was finally relieved of my duties, I returned to the yard and quickly found myself suncreaming pony noses. Which, naturally, resulted in more suncream going down my arm than anywhere else. Like I needed any more!
Sonya turned to me with a sly grin while I downed some more water, “How energetic are you feeling?”. I laughed, “You want me to ride Blossom don’t you?”. She just continued grinning at me until I sighed and agreed. Although at first she was slightly concerned about the fact I was wearing shorts. That was before I revealed I had come prepared for any occasion and had, in fact, brought a pair of jods with me. So I went and changed. Which was one of the more horrific moments of my life. I could feel my temperature rising as I put them on. Putting my chaps on after that was just pure torture, as the synthetic leather does NOT breathe and my legs basically cooked for a little while.
I only rode for about fifteen, twenty minutes. It was so hot, and Blossom was warm and tired. As was I. And, we achieved everything and more than we set out to in that time, which meant both Sonya and I felt it was better to call it a day then rather than risk something going wrong by carrying on.
There was a clear round jump course set up for riders to have a go at on completion of the Fun Ride. Sonya’s thoughts were that by putting all the jumps down to just poles on the ground, I could work Blossom around the arena in all paces normally, getting her to go over the poles. There were a lot of jumps in there (that had been my first job this morning with Kelly) so there was an awful lot for her to look at and panic about as we had fillers, water trays etc going on. But, bless her little heart, she barely blinked. We had a brief spook at the water tray, a small shy at the diamond filler and a moment where she decided that she didn’t want to go into the top corner, so I made her. She ran out at one of the poles, so I made her go back through that too. Once she’d been through everything once, we didn’t have an issue and trotted around on both reins, popping over all the poles happily. After a short while Sonya suggested a canter, so we picked up the trot a little more, and went for the canter in a corner. She boinged twice before cantering on as normal. I think only twice is progress! Because after that there was nothing. We cantered over the poles on both reins, lovely job!
Sonya then turned to me with an all too familiar look on her face. I knew what was coming before she even said it. “I’m tempted to just pop up a small cross pole and see what she thinks..?” Her intonation made it into a question, to make me feel like I had a choice. But I didn’t really. I think if I’d stamped my feet and said “No no no no no no no” then maybe she wouldn’t have made me, but before she’d even finished the sentence she was striding over and rearranging the poles on one of the jumps. So we popped down in trot, and hopped over it neatly, even cantering away. It was literally the tiniest jump in existence, but it was something new so she had a look, and put in some effort. Sonya then put it up a little bit, but this time Blossom decided she was an old hat at this game and just trundled straight through it, no jump in sight. Laughing at the clever little miss, Sonya shouted across to me “Okay, so I need to whack it up a bit more than that then” and adjusted it into a larger cross. Still small, maybe slightly smaller than a standard warm up cross that we’d use for the other horses, but big enough for her to notice!
We came off the other rein this time, and she popped over it oh so politely, cantering away instinctively and coming back to trot when I asked her. Such a good pony!
It was at this point that Sonya and I agreed to end the session, because she had worked hard and dealt with a lot. She had a lot to go away and process, and we didn’t want to overload her. Nor did we want her (or me) to overheat. So, Sonya suggested that as a cool down I should walk her around the block a little, taking her over to the tractor field to wander around the horse boxes and see what she made of them. It was all very scary (Blossom was a bit anxious too) so I kept my leg on nice and reassuringly, and we picked our way in and out of the parked boxes, looking at the horses being washed off after their ride, horses being loaded ready to go home, riders cleaning off bridles and mucking out trailers. There was a lot to see and smell and hear. We made it all the way down to the end of the field where we stood and chatted to Kelly and Emma for a bit. As we stood there, I realised just how well behaved this pony was being as I could feel her heart thumping away, and her breathing was faster than normal. She was clearly nervous or excited or just slightly on edge about the whole experience, and yet she barely let it show.
Sonya thanked me as I was untacking her, to which I replied simply by telling her how super that pony is and how much I enjoy her. I think she really is a fab little thing, and I like her a lot. If she wasn’t so small, I’d be tempted to steal her away.
After a rush of turning out horses once riders had all departed, and cleaning up the yard, I found myself sat in the office chatting to Kelly and Sonya. And not even horsey talk. We actually had quite a deep conversation for three tired people, discussing religion, family and loss. It was a really interesting conversation actually, with some seriously enlightening moments. And it gave me pause for thought, because it made me realise how much I’m going to miss those two. I’ve developed friendships with them both, and sitting there this evening talking real stuff showed me just how much I appreciate their company and conversation. And how much I will miss them when I leave.
My mum, however, is my hero this evening as she greeted me with a cold beer when I got home.