Back On the Horse

When I was a teenager, we lived several miles outside a town in Africa, in an area where most of the properties were farms. The farm next door was a favorite haunt of mine, because it contained two teenage girls and five horses. The girls had both qualified as riding instructors in Scotland, and were eager to teach me how to jump.

The prospect of jumping on a horse simultaneously thrilled and terrified me. They put me on the horse they felt was the most reliable jumper, a gelding named Brandy. Brandy and I cantered right up to the jump and then Brandy changed his mind quite suddenly, as horses are wont to do. He stopped abruptly and I kept going, sailing gracefully through the air before landing in the dirt with a thud.

Were my friends concerned about me? Not at all. All they cared about was that I get right back on the horse and attempt the jump again, for both our sakes. If Brandy thought he could get away with throwing his rider, they’d have no end of trouble ahead of them. And if I was allowed to freak out for even a few minutes, I might not get up the courage to try again.

So I had to climb right back into the saddle and try again. I was thrown again, a little less violently. And yes, it was right back into the saddle for the third attempt. This time Brandy and I made it over the jump together. After two failures, the successful jump was exhilarating.

In my writing life, I’m still waiting for that successful jump. My recent submission has already been rejected. No specific criticisms, other than that they just didn’t “connect” with the story. Of course they were right to reject it. No one wants their book published by someone who is lukewarm about it. The search continues for someone who DOES connect with my stories. Rather than wait months to submit again, I’m trying to make a priority of getting right back in that saddle . . .

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3 thoughts on “Back On the Horse

  1. Haha this took me back to my days as a 10yr old kid helping a local gypsy cob dealer break, back and school horses he bought for next to nothing and later sold on at auction.

    That man shouted and ranted and raved when I was bucked or bailed out and jumped off so much it was unreal. He’d have me draped over the back of some insane horse and give a stern “Don’t you dare let him get you off and don’t jump off unless I say so” and the inevitable time I came off “WHAT THE HELL? WHAT DID I TELL YOU WHAT DID I SAY?? GET BACK ON HIM YOU IDIOT!!”

    The one thing I did learn from him was when a horse refused a jump to get him back round and going over it as quickly as possible and give him little time to think about whether or not he wanted to go over it.

    I’d feel a horse tense up and sure as he’d stop or run out and I’m there “Right let’s go again come on let’s go LEGGIT LESSGO!!” and the poor horse was “oooh shit shit shit!!” and over before he realised.

    It’s a wonder I lived to see my teens 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I have plenty of those but my daughter laughs at my approach to teaching. We saw someone having a XC lesson once and the girl was doing fine as she was but this sodding instructor kept waffling and distracting her. Drives me barmy when instructors do that.

        The girl was approaching a jump perfectly fine and the instructor had to chirp up and start trying to talk her through when she’d already started a really good approach. It distracted her, the horse picked up on it and refused right at the last second with the instructor “Now see.. you shouldn’t have let him do that!!!!” as though it were her fault.

        I was only a few feet away from her so went “Listen sweet you were doing perfectly fine then don’t sweat it – turn around quick as you can get him cantering don’t let him think about it and don’t let him refuse it you gotta gear him up and get him over get him going that’s it that’s it legggit leggit!!” and he sailed clean over the jump.

        Instructor was cross with me I think but to be fair it worked.

        Liked by 1 person

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