It’s quite a rarity – something between a blue moon and a red-letter day – a palindromic date. But it only works if you write your dates European style: 21 02 2012.
And because it’s the same backwards as forwards it’s something of a Pushmi Pullyu day when you really need to ask yourself exactly which way you’re going, otherwise you’re sure to end up standing still.
Sometimes the frustrations of this past year have made me want to despair. My dreams of doing even elementary dressage with one last horse have foundered on every possible rock and I wonder if it is just stubbornness or idiocy which prevents me giving up the dream.
And so reduced are my ambitions that “Standing Still” is my project of the moment.
This is how it goes:
Enter at A. Medium walk. Stop. Put bridle on horse. Stand on sturdy plastic mounting block. Persuade horse that playing Statues is a Good Game. Insist that sitting on horse is part of Good Game. Liberal distribution of carrot portions. (It’s hard sticking to our five-a-day.)
We are in his stable.
This is what me and my horse are doing in our quest for the grand prix. The Grand Prix of Calm. Taking it back to the Zen of Zero. Or simply Standing Still for me to mount.
The Spaniard’s been with me for two years now. One year of making slow but sure progress to a partnership. Then a further year in which I was bent and broken and back to the beginning – and a year is a long, productive period for a horse in his prime to get into the habit of considering work unnecessary. (It’s like the debate about the Welfare State. Hmm.)
He’s a Good Boy. He really is. He loves to be told that he is and always looks a bit surprised to find how Good he can be, doing something quite small and seemingly insignificant. Because in his mind he is the James Dean of our little herd. The bad boy punk. The handsome Matador with attitude.
But nowadays he knows I know – his secret is out. He is hiding a soul that loves to please under that Hard Man carapace. Blame the bullfighting Spanish who gave us the term ”Machismo”. Indirectly he’s broken my leg and bust my jaw. Yeah, that’s a Tough Guy (if it were true). But tough on me, clumsy human in the wrong place at the wrong time – so many years of safe-ridden miles under the belt – then a year under a malevolent star and my non-horsey friends thought I’d acquired the Horse from Hell that was destined to Do Me In. Well it was Friday 13th November when I tried and decided to buy him!
But the chippy little horse that I brought home in a borrowed trailer was a rather confused eight-year-old, that had never settled long enough anywhere to form a lasting relationship with either humans or other adult horses. No-one ever promised it would be easy, but sometimes it takes all my resources not to resent how hard it has been.
My previous horses had never seriously challenged the, ” Me Horse:You Rider” contract, in which Human blows all savings, then feeds, nurtures, sidelines all other responsibilities, adores unequivocally and …… in return, said Horse (though having not actually signed this transaction) has his every need catered for and carries Rider around for a tiny little fraction of his potential grazing time, and might, along the way, step out of his horse-ishness for just long enough to learn how much fun it can be to make a monkey out of a tiny person who slings a leg over his withers. Then how much more fun it is to do amazing stuff together.
This horse – my little Spaniard – hasn’t quite grasped the concept of the contract yet. It’s my fault; this translation business isn’t easy. He has no idea of the finesse of the clauses. The elegance of the mutual agreement. The flights of fancy we can reach for together.
As I said; in some ways, we’re starting over anew. But for me, this has to be a lasting contract. If it takes me every last ounce of patience, I want to teach him to appreciate it, down to the smallest print, where it is written:
P.S. Ultimately this is an even partnership between two very different and difficult beings; do your best and ….good luck!
Well look at him – I can’t give up and let him go, can I?