The stable I visit is less than ten minutes away; up the hill; past the reservoir and through the vineyards. The surroundings are pleasant, the horses well cared for.
Yesterday I was given Amadeus to ride. Deus is a big bay gelding with a long neck and a slow, rhythmic stride. He is obviously an older horse but appears to have had some schooling in his long ago youth. Once I woke up his dead-to-the-leg sides he was lovely into my hands and his snaffle bit.
More progress; I can now ride for the whole hour without too much huffing and puffing, and I am talking about the (supposedly) advanced class now. We rode quite a bit without stirrups. This I have been able to do fairly easily since the day I bought my first pony and Dad said I would have to wait until my birthday to get a saddle to go with him. Funnily enough the emergency dismounts that we practiced yesterday at the trot were learned back then as well. King Arthur the Great, as my strong, Cobby 13.2 hh Thelwell-derived pony was called, had a mouth of iron. Even in his kimblewick and curb chain he could bolt at the walk. King never deigned to waste the energy to take off at the gallop, but he was always very successful at going where he wanted to go. It was often easier to jump off and pull him along by the reins than try to direct him from above.
There was a pony in the class yesterday who turned to bite the rider's foot a few times. I am convinced that most ponies have some devil in their blood-lines. They are usually good for a laugh, if not from the rider, from the spectators.