Hope everyone has had a nice weekend!
Wednesday, 10 January
Back to fast horses, today's ride was Mefisto. Out of the three "better" school horses, Mefisto is my favourite. He is more forward going than Chérie and definitely more calm and attentive (not that Chérie is troublesome, it's only that Mefisto is particularly nice with me). Pipas is, simply put, too much horse for me at this time. But although I like him, I hate his darn saddle! The thing is awfully thick at the bottom, and if you need to move your foot slightly forward, it will find itself dangling in a void, searching uselessly for the horse that should be under you. Even at the girth it can be hard to keep contact between the calves and the horse's flank.
The lesson itself had a fast tempo, with a good part of it consisting of an unrelenting sequence of changes of rein and circles. Right hand circle followed immediately by a change to a left rein. Couple of left circles on the other end of the arena, followed by a change back to a right rein. A few circles back on the first side, going straight to the far side, couple of circles there still on a right rein. This followed by another change and circles on the starting side this time on a left rein. And so on... It didn't take long for me not to know which side was up or down, let alone left or right :-). Sometime along this, while trying a right circle on the far side... or was it the near side? Left circle in the near side, that's it! No, no, definitely far side, but maybe it was a left circle... Well, you know what I mean - I was trying to do a circle somewhere in some direction. The point was that the circle came out quite bad and Francisco said "That's not a circle, that's a radish or a potato or..."
- I was thinking "Tomato! Tomato! Please let it be 'tomato'! I want him to say 'tomato'! Tooommmaaatttooooo!"
- "... something like that."
. It was still not this time I got a new vegetable associated with my circles, but I'll get there
. I've heard a bridle unbuckled apart by an over eager novice being described as a sheaf of broccoli. Although that one is just as colourful as the rest of the vegetables, it is a common saying over here, so it lacks originality :-) (on a side note, the student in question managed to remove the bridle by undoing every buckle in sight... except for the throat lash - impressive
As always, the last part of the lesson was taken up with canter. This time I got along better with Mefisto and there was no cavorting around. The cantering was nothing special - definitely not as good as I can do with Juby, or that last moment with Chérie. At least it was not bad either.
With the lesson finished we dismounted, and Mefisto showed his appreciation for me by rubbing his nose on my shoulder and arm, covering me with yellow foam in the process. I'd just wish it wouldn't dry and disappear as it does, so I could take a sample to show the guys at work: "Yes, it's true! I do spend quite some money so I get to have
this vigorously rubbed into me by a very large, smelly animal, and be perfectly happy about it! And you though I was crazy
I took Mefisto to his box and proceeded to take his bridle off and scratch the corners of his mouth and the sides of his face - which he really seemed to appreciate. I had to go around to his far side to draw the stirrup up before taking off the saddle. When I was returning he had his head turned to his left. Just as I was right in front of him, against the box's wall, he tried to pass his head to the other side, away from me. So, for a moment, we were literally nose to nose in the cramped space, with him looking rather too
intently at me, so I told him "I'm warning you! Don't even thing about it! Absolutely no kissing!"
. It worked, he gave up on the idea then, although he tried again later on...
When I got to the tack room with the saddle I found the barn's tomcat asleep on a couple of rugs placed in one of the saddle racks, one and a half meters from the ground. I placed my saddle on another empty rack, but when André came up with his saddle there was no other available. Attempts to persuade the cat to leave his comfortable bed were unsuccessful, and he was starting to look annoyed. Now... I've seen him being cradled around, but I'm used to feed and pet stray cats, and if you care for your hands and arms, you wouldn't want to pick them up with anything other that elbow length, thick leather gloves (Emma, doesn't this remind you of Footrot's Horse :-)?). André was even less willing to pick him up then I was, so in the end I just folded the rug over him and used it as a basket to carry him to the ground. He looked at us with a "I wish you were dead!" look in his eyes but, like a true feline, one second later he was going away looking as if the all world was just soooo underneath him.
I spent the time until the end of the next lesson petting some of my four legged friends over their stall's doors. The ones most curious were Mefisto, Génio and Safira (the filly). The three of them were especially curious about me, sniffing, mouthing me with their lips, chewing my clothes and, more then once, painfully pinching me. Génio was the one more appreciative of mane scratching, and seeing his pleased expression - relaxed head, half close eyes and tense twitching lips - always cracks me up!