Retraining a pony isn’t easy. For a start how far back do you go. When you know the animal as well as I know Obama going back is nearly impossible. It’s not so bad with the Bannedwaggon, which is pretty new to both of us, and i can settle down and look at Obama’s responses.
The first time I took him out in it, (after the Exeter to London trip) there was serious tension. But I had left off one part which stops it flipping up when empty, and Obama was unimpressed when it showed signs of flipping. And yes, all you BDS types out there, things do go wrong when I am driving the Bannedwaggon prototype. This is known as product testing. Obama and I do the stupid things, so you and your animal don’t have to.
By the second day, he was settling down a bit, third day he was eating the verge while in the Bannedwaggon, and the fourth day, he was bored again. But I am still scared, and the current Bannedwaggon has been anglegrinded (angleground) rather viciously and has strange, and lethally sharp bits of metal sticking out in odd places, so it is difficult to assess which of Obama’s problems are caused by the last few minutes of the London trip, and which are caused by my obvious fear.
So today I went for a blat in the Mark 10 Saddlechariot. Obama drives sweet as a nut until we get to the hill leading to Shillingford and digs his toes in. He will go up very slowly if I lead him, and slower still if I try to drive him. If I climb on the Saddlechariot he goes into park mode. He seems slightly scared, and there is a very distinct smell, a rather weird smell of horse all around, which I can’t explain, but equally can’t prove wasn’t Obama farting consistently.
After taking 20 minutes for a five minute hill we got to the bridleway at the top which we took at a reasonable speed and then he decided we were back moving again. I still don’t know if he just objected to the gradient, which isn’t dramatic, he has done a lot steeper, or whether the smell worried him.
But the best bit was going back down the hill to Ide. After cresting the ridge, while we hadstopped to chat to a couple of dogwalkers, three riders came up the hill towards us. I pulled over as you do, and then had a fascinating few minutes watching as all three tried to ride past Obama and I.
Thrashing away with their whips, kicking like mad and jerking their horses heads around with the bit, they were getting nowhere fast. I rather unsportingly asked them to keep the whip use down if they managed to get anywhere near us, since Obama is terrified of whips. One tried getting off and flailing away with a whip and jerking the horse’s head round with the same lack of success she had had, while sitting on top. They then admitted defeat, and rode back down the hill and through Ide to go up the hill that Obama and I had come up.
Obama, who I consider needs retraining from scratch, stood like a rock through this performance, on a loose rein, occasionally nuzzling me to see if everything was all right. When they turned back, Obama was raring to go and play with them, but I thought they would never keep their animals under control, so we drove maintaining a 100 yard gap the whole way. No bit, no whip, no blinkers, no violence, no problem. The BHS types couldn’t cope with the simplest problem, and I am the one who thinks he has to retrain his animal.
Smug bastard aren’t I?