Back on Board my Spanish “Sparkler”

It’s over five months since I splintered the top of my tibia in mid-March and, apart from sharing the gorgeousness of the early summer garden with you, I haven’t wanted to publish and bore you with my thoughts on the blog for a while … but, a breakthrough at last, I have finally sat on the back of Pom, my handsome PRE (Pure Race Españole) for the first time since my accident and I am as happy as, well, a broken person getting to be whole again can feasibly feel!

The positive side to losing mobility, being in pain, being forced to rely on other people to do your jobs and bear with your frustration, and still being a horseowner who will not give up, is that getting out to see the horses, then upping your involvement, day by day until you’re off the crutches, able to hobble, able to move a bit faster, help a bit more is a gigantic motivation to pay back the stoic-but-exhausted husband who has had the worst five months of his/our marriage.  (And, given that we married in a Register Office in Castries, St. Lucia – where all we had to do was prove who we were and that we were sentient and breathing – neither of us ever promised, “for better or for worse”.)

Those of you who may have read my blog before, will know that our family consists of me and husband, Brits in our mid-fifties who have lived in France for 25 years,  2 retired horses;  Aly the outrageously handsome chestnut “Selle Français”, my partner since 1990;  Pie the wily, skewbald cob-of-indeterminate-extraction who taught my husband to ride and our “New Boy”,  Pom, a classic dapple-grey Andalusian who arrived with a cartload of what the psychologists now call issues, ie. trouble, in November 2009, aged 8.

Pom had damage to one eye, which looked like the sparkle of bright eyes on camera – hence his nickname – an undisclosed past history of laminitis, unsightly sweet-itch damage to mane and tail and a bad attitude.  It was, of course, love at first sight, for me, anyway…

Cutting a long and tortuous story to ribbons, Pom finally settled in with the old boys, came to accept us and even gave a fair portrayal of the horse I thought I’d bought;  excellent, bold and forward-going riding across country.  No bucking, rearing, kicking, jibbing or whirling round in alarm at the horse-eating monsters in the woods.  Here, at last, was a horse who was bred to face down bulls, Moorish invaders and, hopefully, the tame threats to be found around the French countryside.  I firmly ignored his tendency to nip, though I always made sure I was carrying something he could sink his teeth into other than me.

Time passed;  we had got to a stage of mutual confidence, or so I fondly believed, where I could ride him bareback on our home “school”.  Oh and how true that pride, (or over-confidence, at least,) comes before a fall.  Next thing I knew I was stuck in hospital, hooked up to a drip which gave me paranoid palpitations and told I wouldn’t be able to ride for three months.  Three months!!  Little did I know that this was a conservative estimate designed to give me false hope.

And so, five and a bit months down the line, I am finally well enough to think I might almost be ready to ride again (as I can sort of walk, if a bit bumpily.).  And this is how Pom and I got so close I almost think my injury and the lesson of patience was worthwhile.     Time, of course will tell ….

Aly is now 27 and has emphysema which causes him to burn up calories like tinder, and so has generous rations both morning and night, which are four times the feed of Pom and the Pie, who both need to watch their waistlines for the good of their health.  Pie is Aly’s old pal and lieutenant and wouldn’t steal from his bucket.  Not so Pom, the young buck who is out to challenge the old order.   So, at mealtimes, Pom has a small “corral”, slightly larger than a box, where we while away the time between him finishing his modest bucket and Aly finishing his monster mash, by grooming, treatment for sweet itch (you wouldn’t know;  his mane and tail are now full and flowing thanks to Derfen) and general socialisation/obedience/moving or not moving in response to verbal and body language.  Several people recommended the Parelli seven games to me – but when I looked up references, that was more or less what we were doing!

I’m not a particularly patient person.  It’s an advantage when things need doing NOW in spheres relating to mankind.  But I have finally realised it can be learned (or enforced, by illness or injury!). And horse-kind, as we understand, responds better to a lateral rather than a direct approach. Thus I’ve come the hard way to appreciate hanging out together with my Pom, moving slowly and carefully as I was forced to;  sharpening his reactions to my requests, getting him to enjoy doing little tricks and favours and … what’s so shameful about bribery if it makes us both happy and has revolutionised his attitude regarding treats and nips?  Never allowed the former before he came to live here, he grumpily resorted to the latter.  He has now learned a subtlety and delicatesse of touch that would grace a French pastrychef, with the lips that used to bare teeth in malevolent warning 20 months ago tickling a sugar lump off my palm with such finesse.   And knowing not to mug me for more when they’re gone!

So, the day before yesterday, before it got too hot, whilst we were trying to find a use for some delectable windfalls, it wasn’t too hard to slide in a snaffle after an apple, persuade a gainsaying husband that we weren’t on the road to perdition, to bring in the mounting block he made for me, hold on to the reins and let me slide a (good) leg over the withers I’d been massaging to relieve all those tense itches I’m always there to attend to.  At last.  Back on board.  A little pirouette.  Some steps back.  And forward;  sideways, like we’ve done on the ground, then enough, I slip to the floor.  My lovely boy is as pleased with himself as I am with him.  A few more apples are part-taken of and the boy is turned out with a smile on his face.

Now the pair of us have to do something about our expanding waistlines.  The weather should be cooler in a couple of weeks.  I’ve been oh-so-patient, but I can’t wait much longer to capitalise, ever so gently, on our new-found closeness.

(We recently took a shower “together” – and yes, those tracksuit bottoms are horribly unflattering!)

I used to suggest a theme tune for each post:  tonight’s would be the Isley Brothers’ “Summer Breeze” which we need right now.  It’s been up in the late 30°s centigrade today and I’m hoping the boys are cooler in their shelter in the woods than we are in the house with fan ineffectually fluffing the tepid air.

It’s the last blast of summer and my patience hopes, finally, to be rewarded as, soon, we’ll get back to decent riding weather…….


About cavaliereattitude

Englishwoman, transplanted to SW France in '86, blogging - with a large dose of humour and self-deprecation - about life with my husband and our horses, the never-ending renovation of an ancient and crumbly stone farmhouse and the attempt to carve a beautiful garden and productive pasture out of a woodland wilderness.........
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One Response to Back on Board my Spanish “Sparkler”

  1. ptigris213 says:

    Hooray and at last! Good for you! He looks marvelous, darling, and I’m glad to see you back on your feet without a crutch.

    Oh, my, isn’t he a lovely thing…



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