Thursday, 5 January 2012

Theories that go counter to the facts of horse nature are foredoomed.

Theories that go counter to the facts of human nature are foredoomed too, and that's the original quotation, by someone called Edith Hamilton, Latest American Writer I've Not Heard Of - the first of 2012.

I felt pretty foredoomed this morning, and so, I suspect, did Alfie.

A flatwork lesson had been planned. It was howling a gale and threatening rain. Me, I'm just too gung-ho for my own good. 'Yes, OF COURSE we'll go ahead!' I said, and set off with my long-suffering horse to the outdoor sand-school without first putting on coat and gloves. (On me. Alfie prefers mittens as he has no fingers.)

It was counter to human AND horse nature to be having a riding lesson in those conditions. Icy wind, one thing. Icy wind followed by pelting rain followed by more icy wind - another thing. I got drenched and then frozen to the bone.

AND we were trying to learn how to do counter canter.

For the dressage-uninitiated: "A counter canter is when the horse turns a bend on the incorrect leading leg. On the correct lead the inside foreleg would be reaching further forward than the outside leg. When counter cantering the outside foreleg is the leading leg."

I'm sure this diagram will make it all perfectly clear. As clear as mud, in fact. I showed the very same diagram to Alfie.

Poor old Alfie. After months and years of battling to get him to lead with the correct leg, he was being awfully generous to me when I was trying to get him to lead with the incorrect leg. You could hear his thought processes:

"Stupid woman. It must be the weather. She's obviously lost her marbles. She's going to look a complete idiot making me lead with the wrong leg so I'll help her out and change to the correct leg."

Such a kind and well-mannered chap! And now very confused. In fact, he's looking for a new owner.

Yep, counter canter...foredoomed.