New Heights

An old picture of a very young Thunder

One of the loveliest things about training horses or teaching people is reaching a milestone. I love to watch a horse or a student achieve something, whether it’s rising to the trot or carrying a rider for the first time ever. That feeling of quiet satisfaction – okay, so it’s not always awfully quiet, but I digress – is part of what makes it all worth the tears and tantrums that you have to survive before you get there.

Although Skye has been booked off for at least two weeks – I miss her, but at least she’s happy – Arwen’s jumping has been going from strength to strength. One month ago we were comfortably popping over 0.9m and I was starting to cruise along in the safe but unsatisfied realm of thinking that this was as high as it was ever going to get.

Then during a lesson we squeaked over 1.0m (3′ 3″) and it all woke up again. We moved forward again.

Since then it all just went crazy. Two weeks later we galloped over 1.1m (3′ 7″) and I was shocked and I began to think that maybe my long-eared pony did have some talent after all; Arwen is not very flashy and doesn’t show off what she’s capable of, she just does what you tell her to do if you get lucky and work for it. But there is a big jump hiding in there somewhere, though, and a big enough heart to use it, because yesterday we jumped a terrifying 1.3m (4′ 3″), which made the Berlin Wall look positively friendly.

1.3m! That’s just a little shorter than poor Arwen herself is!

And she did it!



She had a few stops and she crashed into it once – luckily her bandages protectec her legs – but finally we both committed, I GALLOPED her up to the jump (if we’d cantered I’d have had too much time to be as afraid as I wanted to be) and Arwen just went for it. I flattened myself on her neck in abject terror, clung on to her mane, and tried not to scream. Arwen tucked up her forelegs and kicked off the ground and heaved herself up into the air. I couldn’t breathe or see or think and then we hit the ground and we’d made it and I was hugging her around the neck yelling “We made it! You’re awesome! You are AWESOME!” like a classic teen. Arwen jogged in a loopy little circle (I had let go of the reins) trying not to pass out. The Mutterer may even have had a little smile on his face.

Who’d have thought it?

My state is still one of total shock; I cannot believe the little grey horse actually did it. She must be a lot braver than I give her credit for. She continues to be silly and skittish on outrides, but I guess she’s starting to make up for it in the arena.

Further news is relatively limited on the horse front. Skye remains happy and out of action and terrifically pampered. Siobhan has been doing quite well; she’s a lot livelier and we even jumped (for want of a better word) around 20cm. Achilles finally had his gelding operation on Tuesday. It was a bit scary, because my poor horsy was having bits cut off him, but he was peacefully sleeping and didn’t know a thing even though the vet insisted on giving me an in-depth lecture on how it all works (he’s really a great teacher, but I was just trying not to throw up because he was showing me on something he had just chopped off my horse). Achilles came out of the anaesthetic really, really well and seems to be doing fine; he’s eating and drinking and walking around, not badly swollen or depressed, and within a few months he should be able to go and live with the mares instead of being locked up all alone.

I have a new Work In Progress; I’d nearly forgotten how much fun it is to be working on a first draft again. I’m playing with tenses and points of view, writing for the first time in first person, present tense. My pacing is abysmally slow, so I’m hoping this harsher, in-the-moment style will help me to keep the story moving.

So for now I will return to the sweet madness of God and horses and people and cows and writing, and wait for my horse to be sound, and learn to be patient. I can sure use it.


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