The Horse-Riding Writing Coach: BAULKING AT THE BAULK

Although my day job is helping people improve their business and personal writing, my hobby for many years has been horse riding. Hope you enjoy sharing one of my funnier experiences!

Some east Bedfordshire, England equestrians will be familiar with The Baulk, a shallow stream which runs along a bridleway from Church End, across The Ridge.

Well, old Georgie the mare and I took a cruise down there one day, having not been through The Baulk for a long time and never in the summer when the leaves were on the trees.  As it was a bright sunny day, Suze for once had abandoned the rubber Splasher boots in favour of some rather smart, brand new leather jodhpur boots.  That was my first mistake.

We wandered down from Church End, having a good look at the cows, rabbits, gardeners and other wildlife en route, and proceeded to the water's edge.  Time to tackle the stream.  Would Georgie have it?  No way.  Although she would never dream of doing anything unseating, Georgie simply would not enter that dark, evil tunnel with water running along the bottom.

Leg hard on both sides, shouting of every imaginable obscenity, breaking of twig off tree to smack bottom (don't carry a whip unless there are gates to be opened) but nothing worked.

As we agonised over this dilemma, my thoughts strayed to the perceptive words of Lucy, our Georgie's previous rider.

"You should remember," Lucy once said when faced with her Samsara's reluctance to walk past a bogie-man, "that a horse will look to you to be the herd leader if you're in front of it.  The trouble is, if you're sitting on the horse, you're not in front of it.  In fact the horse thinks with some justification that you're behind it, so it has no leader."
Oh nuts to this, thought Suze with eye on the watch and rapidly approaching departure of babysitter, and dismounted.  I crossed the stirrups over Georgie's withers and ran the reins over her head, then strode forth into the churning rapids which at this point were at least two inches deep.  Sure enough, as I had now become herd leader Georgie obediently followed me through the gentle stream.

Unsportingly I thought only of my new leather jodhpur boots as the water seeped through the elasticated sides, squelching through my socks and trickling round my toes.  

We plodded on to the other end, and through gritted teeth I praised Georgie for her extreme bravery.  I found a convenient stile and remounted, the water now cheerfully gurgling inside my jodhpur boots as my toes pressed gently into the stirrup irons.  "Right," I muttered, as I turned the mare round and faced her once again towards the heaving white water.  "Good girl!  What a clever girl!" I screamed as I urged her on through again, again, again, again, and again.

We travelled the stream a total of six times in extremely quick succession, by which time Georgie was shouting at me "for Heaven's sake, enough!  I've got the picture!"  Since that day, we have been through The Baulk many more times, with Georgie quite calm, and Suze remaining in the saddle with dry feet.  And, I suppose I must be grateful that dear old Georgie does, after all, look to me to be her own personal herd leader.