Adieen met him at the door again the next night. “Come in; Hadia and Joanna are waiting in the stables. We, um, decided to get started early.” She was grinning.
Talib just raised an eyebrow and followed her.
The scene when he got the stables made him shake his head. “There are right ways and wrong ways to put things on. Am I going to have to teach you?”
Hadia looked up and blushed. “Sorry, we were just playing…”
“Aha. Slave, get Joanna. I’ve got Hadia.” He moved behind her and started adjusting the arm-binder. “Well, at least you got the boots on. Did you get the right ones?”
“We found the nametags, yes. Ah, that’s much better.”
“It’s not supposed to be uncomfortable. Restrictive, yes, but your bet was for a whole day, so I made sure this was a design even a beginner could wear for long periods.” He turned her around. “Now, I should be treating you as a pony right now, by my rules. But I’ll waive it just this once, at least until I get this harness straightened out.”
“We thought we remembered how everything went…”
He set to work adjusting, and Hadia bit her lip. “Um, I decided I wouldn’t mind trying the catheter you put on Adieen.”
Talib looked up. “Is that so?” He turned to look over his shoulder at Joanna. “How about you? You want to try it too?”
“I went before we got started.”
He took that as a good enough answer. “Ok, I’ll get it set up in a moment, as soon as we have this harness on. And keep still. A pony doesn’t ﬁdget. At least, not a trained one.”
She stopped moving around, and Talib ﬁnished up. “So, is that better? Anyplace still pinching or rubbing?”
“Much better, thanks. And no, nothing’s pinching or rubbing.”
“Good.” He turned to go to the n-pad programmer.
“Um, one last question: Do we need the blindfolds?”
Talib turned back, and let the aggravation fade out of his face. “We don’t need them, but they are a good training aid. I need to follow the reins, and my commands, and not be watching me for signals. I also need you to learn to trust me, and it helps with that as well. But most important, it helps you concentrate, which I think you two might need help with.” He glanced at Adieen, who was trying to silently laugh as she leaned against the door-frame. “Especially with the distractions around here. So, if it’s going to be a problem, I’ll leave them oﬀ. But I’d really much prefer to use them. At the very least, you’ll be getting blinders — those you’ll wear during the show as well. Blindfolds are just for training.”
“Ah, ok. If it’s just for training.”
“Good. And from now, we’re treating you like ponies. No more talking!” And he went back to the machine, which in a moment had spit out the required pad. Talib placed it, and turned to Slave. “If Joanna’s ready, feel free to take her outside and start. There’s no combined training today.”
Slave just nodded, and with a tug led her already blindfolded pony out the main doors. Talib turned back to Hadia. “So, do you need to go right now?”
She started to answer, but spotted the slight motion of his crop and stopped herself, settling for just shaking her head.
“Ok then. It may not kick in at all today; It’ll wait until you are full.” He set it up, then ﬁnished putting on her binders, and led her out for her own training.
“Oooh. I am so glad to get out of those boots.” Hadia was massaging her ankles. She turned to Adieen, who’d managed to watch most of the training in silence. “You didn’t mention that.”
Adieen shrugged. “I got the foot-mod, remember? It was like walking in a normal pair of heels; I felt the rise, but just barely, and it wasn’t anything unusual, really.”
Talib spoke up. “How’s your left ankle? You stumbled a bit, and I was worried for a moment.”
“Sore. I deﬁnitely felt that, but I’ll be ok. Thanks for catching me; I assume it was you.”
He shrugged. “It’s one thing trainers are for, to help make sure you don’t get hurt. I probably should have stopped, but we were getting close to done anyway, and you went right back to what we were doing as if it didn’t hurt at all.”
“It hurt a bit, but I ﬁgured I could go on.”
“Here, let me take a look.” He knelt, and took the foot in question in hand. Carefully, he poked and prodded, and made sure it was still going through a full range of motion. “Ok, maybe a mild strain. Not too bad. I’d say keep oﬀ it for the night, and it might be a bit tender tomorrow, but it’ll be good after that.”
“Can I take the foot mod? I think you’ve managed to convince me it’s a good idea.”
“Not tonight: That swelling needs to go down ﬁrst. I’ve got another session here tomorrow, I’ll take a look at it then.” He looked up, and considered. “If you want, I can give you a n-pad to help get the swelling down to make sure it’s in good enough shape tomorrow.”
He stood, and went to the n-pad programmer. “So, how was the catheter?” He asked, without turning around.
Hadia blushed. “It was… unexpected. I was just walking, trying to ﬁgure out what you wanted from the reins, and suddenly it was streaming out.”
“I hope I didn’t hurt you to much with the tug.”
“No, just enough to make me realize what you were doing. I’d forgotten all about the training for a moment there.”
“Well, you did good to get back to training before it stopped. I’ll congratulate you on that.”
“So, do you want to leave it in?”
She pondered a moment. “Um, for the show…”
“The day of the show, I’ll expect you to go if you need to, with or without the catheter. There will be a few times it would be inappropriate, and I will make sure anyone with the catheter doesn’t go then, but I won’t be saying anything about it. You will either be in your stall at the fair, or on the showgrounds, all day. No restrooms. You’ll need to be comfortable with it, one way or the other.”
She gave it some more thought. “It was kinda fun. I’ll keep it for now.”
“Ok.” He turned back, with the n-pad in hand, and walked over to kneel in front of her. “Leave this on until it fades, and I still want you to keep your weight oﬀ it as much as possible for the rest of the night.”
“But it’s safe to walk on?”
“Yeah. I just don’t want you stumbling again.”
“Ok, good, thanks.”