Over the past few months we've been looking after a horse named Janosch. He belongs to a friend of mine who has jaunted off to Australia backpacking. I've been rather enjoying the pleasures of riding again after a number of equine-free years. More importantly, Finje has grasped the fact that undertaking the responsibility for such an animal is not always fun and frolics. But it has been a positive experience for her. She has a healthy respect for the beasts without displaying any fear and she is becoming quite a competent rider.
Whilst we don't have lessons, we do occasionally find a comfortable spot on the hay stack to observe others being put through their paces. I take advantage of the little tit-bits I overhear should one of them assist me in keeping Janosch under control when he has smelt the sweet smell of home and would gallop over his own grandmother to get there. Finje, I thought, was simply happy to observe the pretty ponies and dream (and a dream it will remain) of one day having her own.
As it turned out she had been taking a lot more notice that I could possibly have imagined.
Last Sunday as I put Janosch through his paces in the paddock, Finje looked on, periodically giving little nods of approval at my expertise in all things equestrian (managing to stay on). Once in a while however I noticed her looking somewhat perturbed. She seemed to want to contribute, give me the benefit of her vast experience. Why not let her play German Riding Instructor. What harm could it do? Encourage fantasies, embolden their imagination that's what I say.
I gestured for her to join me in the paddock. She appeared delighted to be honoured with the responsibility of teaching me how to ride properly and fell into her role like a pro. A few people had gathered to see the cute little girl instructing her mother. And then:
"Ja, Mama das ist super. Now GIVE HIM HEAD, GIVE HIM HEAD!"
I very nearly fell off.
She had obviously heard the real teacher telling her student to give her pony his head, as in stop pulling him up. Her slightly off the mark translation into English had me gasping for air racked with laughter.
Of course, no one else got the joke so I had to pretend I had choked on my Werther's Original.