Among The Stars - Part 4 of 8
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   23rd Feb 2019   •   944 views   •   0 comments
After Moo’s tie back, I was in my final year at university, and we hadn’t had lessons in a while. I played with him a lot while he was recovering. The place we were stabling at the time didn’t have a proper arena, so we would do our schooling on the beach, and sometimes take tackless rides out there too. Moo would always spook at the seaweed, and occasionally try join in with the racehorses doing their gallops on the beach, but his antics never upset me. He was always so full of character and personality - not always easy, or safe, or pleasant, but certainly never boring.

Among The Stars

Every ride on him was fun and exciting, and he made me laugh. Of course, he also made me mad, and on multiple occasions I have threatened him with the sausage factory. One such occasion actually occurred during one of our beach schooling sessions. Moo was being his stubborn self and refusing to engage, so I gave him a kick, just a little too hard, and he gave me a jolly good kick back. At this stage he was usually quite a gentleman, so this response was so unexpected that I went straight over his head and landed flat on my backside. He gave me one death glare, then turned around and bolted off down the beach with his tail in the air, sand flying up behind his hooves, leaving me to trudge after him through knee deep water with sand in every orifice of my body. When I reached the edge of the beach I saw him waiting expectantly for me at the end of the access path, ears pricked. He waited to make eye contact, then picked up his tail again and trotted off. I followed him even further, and finally found him standing halfway back to the stables, hobbled by his reins, and waiting patiently for me to untangle him – the very picture of innocence. I couldn’t even be mad at him. If there was one thing Moo could teach you, it was a sense of humour.

Among The Stars

We spent the year slowly progressing back to where we were. I struggled a bit with my riding after the lack of education. Somehow, even though I was the one who trained Moo, he was always better at everything than me. He knew what to do in the dressage ring, and if I didn’t ride him correctly, he’d let me know by either acting like an obnoxious giraffe, or throwing a classic Moo temper tantrum. He played the role of my riding instructor, and he inspired me to constantly improve myself so I could get the best out of him. He was not an ‘easy’ ride, he was fussy and sensitive and demanded perfection, but if you asked all your questions just right, the answers he’d give were magnificent.

He inspired me. He motivated me.

He made me want to be a better rider - made me want to work for it, so I could be worthy of him. It was frustrating, and sometimes depressing, never feeling like I was good enough, and like a great horse was being wasted on me. But it was the best kind of frustration. The type you need to light a fire under you, and spur you to chase your goals.

Among The Stars

Gradually, Moo and I got back on track. We reached 1m eventing again, won a couple of big titles, and began tentatively planning another shot at 1* eventing. I was always tentatively ‘planning’, and waiting until I was sure we were ‘ready’ before we tried something outside our comfort zones. When you live somewhere like South Africa where eventing is ‘small’, higher grade shows are few and far between. We just don’t have a lot of shows at 1* level and above, let alone somewhere to train for these levels.

If you want to get to enough shows to get the mileage and feel established, you have to be constantly travelling, chasing what few big shows there are, and that is a costly and time-consuming endeavour. It gives a lot of us (or, me, at least) a phobia of setbacks. I would always rather enter the 1m, feeling like it was way too easy, than risk having a bad run at 1*, losing confidence, and having to take the time to build it back up again. So we won at 1m, and just when I was thinking of moving up to 1* again, and maybe trying some more Elementary Medium dressage, maybe jumping a 1,20m, His Moojesty decided to remind me that ‘plans’ have no place in the equestrian world. After a year of impeccable behaviour at his livery yard, he decided to go rogue, break away from the groom who was bringing him in for supper, and take a joy run around the yard. He was awarded a suspensory ligament strain for his trouble, and sentenced to 6 months off work (most of which he spent doing as many acrobatics as he could fit into a small standing paddock - which was a lot, because he was Moo, and Moo could put just about any rodeo bronc to shame).

Among The Stars
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