I hope you are well.
I know I have been less than reliable with my contact lately and for that I apologise. I explained in my recent note to you the reasons behind this sudden withdrawal of communication though, and I can only hope you understood well enough to forgive me. For now I am writing you a long missive, full of news and photographs and good wishes.
As for myself, I am well. The weather here has been holding well and we are now two weeks into September without a drop of rain! I think, perhaps, it may be pushing it to ask for this gorgeous heat wave to last much longer, but you know me, I’ll always be holding out for that little bit more sunshine. I love the sun. As a result of this warmth, however, I found myself sunburnt again recently. Not so dramatically as before though, so I have little to complain about.
Work is going well. I spend my days pushing ever forward with my projects. Skelatchi, or Skooch as we call him, is coming on well. He is definitely losing weight and gaining fitness. Some days he is still a little sore through his back, but it doesn’t take much for the muscles to warm up and then he moves well again. He’s a willing horse, keen to please, and he listens most of the time. I enjoy working with him, and the fact that I am getting results makes it worth it. In fact, I feel like I am building an ever better relationship with him, the more work we do together.
Because it does feel a bit like teamwork. I am trying to help him lose weight and get fitter and stronger, but he is teaching me too. He reminds me that just because he responds one day, does not mean he will necessarily be able to do it as well the next. He reminds me that he does not have to listen to me if he does not wish to. And he reminds me of my own limits and of how far I have to go myself. Working with him is a pleasure, fulfilling, but also a learning experience. My lungeing improves daily, as I am constantly searching for new ways in which to help him progress. And my riding is at least remaining constant, if not improving too. Despite the fact I am not getting lessons, I am still learning from the horses I ride. Skooch is a good one for me, as he is very clear about what he is and is not comfortable with, and so I find myself gaining in awareness and feel. Which, my friend, is extremely beneficial.
Our new mare, Ruby, is also coming on in leaps and bounds. Adele has been working with her a lot and while I ride her every now and again to make sure she will listen to me as well, and also for a bit of fun, I am mostly leaving her to Adele. Not because I am not interested, but because Adele enjoys her so much and lights up when she talks about teaching her things. I am happy to see my friend and co-worker so enamoured of a horse, so I am in no place to interfere. Besides, I work with Skooch, she works with Ruby. It’s a balance. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy Ruby too. She’s such a beautiful mare, in nature as well as appearance. A real cutie. We have high hopes for her still.
And Maggie, our youngster, is proving to be one of the most gorgeous little things. She’s a diamond in the rough for sure. You’ll remember I mentioned the weight bearing exercises before, which mostly involved me lying rather uncomfortably across her back while Adele led her around the arena and she grunted and groaned with every step. Well we have taken another step forward with her. I am now sitting in the saddle, upright. In fact, we’ve come even further than that but I shall start further back.
We decided it was time to see how she felt about having a leg either side of her, so I slowly and quietly slid one leg over the saddle until I was poised rather inelegantly, standing on the block with one leg hung across her back. She remained standing still, thinking about it, so I gradually slid myself up into the saddle. I kept my body and head low, parallel with hers, so that she could process my weight and the changed feeling without having to worry about things moving around on top of her. After a couple of times doing that and then sliding off, Adele decided we’d take a few steps. So we did, with me still low down. She was golden, walking forwards tentatively at first before realising it was actually easier than having me hung over her back. As she gained in confidence, I slowly eased myself upright. She didn’t react at all.
From there we have now progressed to the point that by the end of her work session, I am effectively riding her around the arena with Adele nearby. We walk around, with her responding to my legs. Initially she was reluctant and confused, but she is such a fast learner that she picked it up within one session. She also listens to the reins, stopping and turning when requested. Not perfectly or beautifully, but the basics are coming into place. We even had a brief trot the other day, with Adele leading for safety, and me quietly sitting. She was totally gorgeous about it. She has a nice trot too! Everything is baby steps with her, as it should be, and we give her plenty of time to process each new event. She’s a remarkable creature though. She’ll stand stock still for twenty minutes or so, one ear forward and one cocked back, with her lower lip drooping. She seems to just mull things over before accepting that they’ve happened and then moving on to the next thing. Each time we bring her out and repeat exercises she just takes them in her stride before trying the next new thing. Such an amazing little filly.
I think that about sums up the important events of the past days here in my life. Other news includes the fact that the donkeys now call to us when we come down with their hay in the evening. Which is the cutest thing and the highlight of mine and Adele’s evening.
And, of course my dear, I am still in love with this place. There have been moments when I have questioned myself as to whether I should have made the decision to remain here rather than going back to England. Those moments do not last for long, however, as I soon remember that for now this place feels like home. I need only look out of a window, any window, and I feel at peace. These horses, these people, these beautiful days. I am settled and happy. At some point I will take the next step forwards with my life, but I am content with the knowledge that I have taken the right step for the time being.