Upside Down

Yesterday was Meera’s day to ride. Short; she’s eight but can pass for five; stubborn and reluctant, she’s a bit of challenge when it comes to riding. She loves the horses, but teaching her is like trying to teach a rock. She long since should have been able to put a bridle on Cowgirl or clean out her feet, but she won’t do it. I think she can, but she refuses to. (She prefers to brush the same spot over and over or hang bells on saddles.)
Like water in a river flowing around a boulder, Katie Dayharsh and I clean up the paddock, groomed and fed the horses and tacked up all while Meera sullenly just stood there.
You can tell by the look on her face that she’s happy as a clam when she’s riding the horse, as she surely was all the way from the barn to the arena. But by the time we got to the arena, where we were met by Helen and Matthieu (who, as we arrived, were found hanging upside down in a tree), I was hot under the collar in regards to Meera’s lack of participation. I told her she had to take a break from riding while the other two rode.
Moments later, Susan arrived with her two ponies Roscoe, an aging, calm, small Paso Fino and Gizmo, her 6 year-old Friesian/Quarter horse cross who’d have been better off named Buckaroo. Knowing she needed the arena for turn out and as we were in no hurry, we all stepped outside and let the horses graze while Gizmo put on energetic equine show full of flying feet and flaring nostrils. While we all watched the show and chatted with Susan, Meera quietly made her way over to Roscoe who was busy chewing the branches off a nearby tree. She patted him and talked to him and helped him eat more leaves by pulling the branches farther down.
Susan left our company to go put Roscoe in the round pen (which is adjacent the arena). Meera did not come back to us. She started following Susan and Roscoe around like a puppy dog, doing everything for Susan (and Roscoe) that she had refused to do for me. She opened and shut gates, she fetched lead ropes and she helped Susan round up Roscoe when Roscoe escaped. She even helped Susan load her horses back into the trailer. If Susan had had a back pocket, Meera would have jumped in it and stayed there.
Clearly Susan (who is in her late fifties and runs a preschool) has gifts I do not. That does not make me any less grateful for them. Meera returned to us all bright and cheerful and immediately set about helping Matthieu with his stirrups and Helen with picking Chavali’s hooves. All three of them spent the next twenty minutes riding around the arena (in random directions at unpredictable and erratic speeds) and setting up obstacle courses, which Helen made sure to correct to the extent that the course appeared neat and precise.
(Susan, bless her heart, has promised to time her visits to the arena with Meera’s lessons, an offer I intend to take her up on.)
At this point, Meera’s mom arrived to fetch her and Helen and Matthieu spent another fifteen minutes rebounding around the arena, towards the end of which became only Helen as Matthieu became more interested in playing in the sand. He very carefully constructed a two foot oval shape that he explained was an arena for ants.
I did finally manage to drag them away, but it had gotten late and instead of heading to Quail, we rode (me on the ground, Helen and Matt mounted) directly back to their house where we were enthusiastically met by five year-old little brother Benoit. He had been hoping for a chance to ride himself. As I was too tired to move and Chavali was happily grazing, I didn’t object when Beatrice took the reins and lead Benoit on Cowgirl around their front lawn (while Helen grabbed baby sister Laure and used her to put on a show for me). But the entertainment was short lived as they were all due for an activity at school that evening. Beatrice said, “Benoit, it’s time to get off”. This had the poor boy completely flumoxed. He said, “I don’t know how!” With coaching from Mattheiu, he finally managed it, but with such little skill that Mattheiu insisted on demonstrating a proper dismount. Being the rapscallion he is, this included sliding backwards off Cowgirl’s butt. Not to be undone, Beatrice said, “There is another way to dismount. Lie sideways across the saddle with your head upside down.” She then had him hold the saddle and flip, feet over head, onto the ground. Now Matt has yet another way to teach the other students how to dismount!
I guess that is really two stories, but they were both too good to pass up! Cheers – Deb

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