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One morning, after we had our training, Auntie Niki led me to the upper arena instead of going back to the barn. We sometimes did this. She would stand and talk to the other humans there, then take me back to be unsaddled.
Imagine my surprise when she took me into the arena and got back in my saddle. We were in a real arena at last. I was very excited, but tried to be good. She asked me to walk, so I did. There were other horses being ridden around me, but they didn’t want to talk. They were busy working. I put my nose forward and tried to look like I was working, too.
It’s funny how a different place makes your brain feel all soft and mushy. Auntie Niki and I had practiced turning and stopping in the wood pen forever, but somehow when she asked me to trot and tried to turn me in the bigger arena, I forgot how. Instead, I stuck my head up in the air and tried to wriggle my mouth away from her pulling. If she tried to pull my face down and turn me, I stopped. Each time I did that, she would push me forward into the trot and we’d try it again.
It took a few more days of being ridden in the arena before I could pay attention to her and be a good horse. After my mind calmed down, I remembered my lessons and it was easier. I learned that staying against the fence was called being on the rail. Each day, I would be walked and trotted on the rail, then in circles in the center of the arena. I liked it a lot. It was really easy.
Until the day we loped. I had gotten pretty good at it in the wood pen. She tapped me forward with one leg and I understood. I’d push off with my outside hind hoof and reach out with the inside front one. The arena was so much bigger than the wood pen, and I could go straight forever before I had to turn.
Auntie Niki asked me to lope down the rail on my left lead. I started really well. Then I started thinking about what I was doing. I felt happy to be loping such a long way in the arena. It was like I was free.
Loping… I’m loping! Here I go—loping!
I’m afraid I lost track of everything then, even my rider. I was running down the edge of the arena. Auntie Niki was pulling on the reins, but I stuck my head in the air and ignored her. It was fun until she finally got control of me again and made me slow down.
Miss Tina was walking past when it happened.
“Damned horse ran off with me,” Auntie Niki said as she made me walk.
“Yeah, but his legs were moving so slow,” Miss Tina told her. “And his knees were nice and flat.”
It turned out that having Miss Tina watch me gave her ideas, even if I was out of control.
Auntie Niki thinks I look silly in this picture.