I had my third lesson yesterday. I had such a beautiful time hacking through the woods – how could I have forgotten to mention that we spied a herd of about 4o deer under the trees?
So I booked with Kim, who’d been brilliant, to ride Fergus this time.
It was a half hour outdoor lesson at the end of which I felt euphoric, teary, silly, shaky and exhausted. Kim had gently recognised that I needed to build up my confidence. She gave me the whip and had me guiding Fergus (grubby white horse with a cute billy goat’s gruff beard) and – to my amazement when I reviewed the lesson in my head later that day – cantering. Just three strides of cantering. But enough to be able to say I’d cantered and not fallen off.
Fergus, Kim reassured me, would be far to lazy to bolt off over the fields. The most wicked thing he’d do would be to stop and wander into the middle of the ring to stand next to the teacher.
I decided that, so long as I could always have Fergus and Kim, I’d carry on and I booked another lesson.
When it arrived yesterday my heart sank when I heard Kim was ill. It would be Fergus still, but this time with Karen.
The lesson couldn’t have been more different. Kim is a Suffolk girl who lives on a farm and loves dogs and her style was to dive in and canter on our second lesson.
Karen was an Essex lady with six sons who all worked at the school (“Thing is, I was never that maternal but I can talk to ’em now.”) Her style was to put Fergus on the lunge, no whip, no cantering – more focus on feeling the horse and balancing with no reins and taking it very steadily. There was a lot of laughter (“look at your face!” she’d giggle when she asked me to do something I found scary). I felt a bit like a ten-year old – once I’d realised I really was asking Fergus to trot and slow and halt (“bum under, tighten your stomach”) and he WAS, I was saying, “Can I go again?”
“Of course,” said Karen. “Don’t mind if I sit in the middle here and have a fag?”
I decided that, so long as I could always have Fergus and Kim or Karen, I’d carry on and so I’ve booked another lesson.
Here’s Fergus on Poplar Park’s Flickr site.