Monday, August 18, 2014

THE BIG MOVE

Show prep for the August show started out like normal


cleaning my filthy dirty and now wet and angry horse.  Poor wet Annie.

LAZ generally has some sort of deal with the weather gods where it might rain in concentric circles around her property but not actually on her property.  However, she made a blood sacrifice for good weather for another event and promised to allow it to rain at this specific show, thus it rained, and poured.  There was standing water in the dressage ring and in show jumping but the footing is good and solid underneath so no problems with the going.

I decided to go ahead and warm up in one of the indoors then I went out in the rain to warm up in the other indoor.   I planned on getting soaking wet, because I didn't come prepared to ride in the rain at all.  Luckily, Cathy showed up just in time with a very stylish raincoat for me to wear.

Usually I like to warm up outside on the grass, Annie is used to indoors and her attention to my aids is much better without the distractions so I chose to ride outside with the distractions to try and recreate the show environment as much as possible.  I'm glad I made the choice I did when I saw that the grass was very very slick and a horse galloping around was slipping on the turns.  Not having a forward ride on the grass would not have been productive, nor would slipping and falling.

We had a SUPER dressage test, Annie kept her head down mostly because she was afraid of drowning
 but I'll take all the help I can get!  She was a little on the conservative side in her forwardness but I didn't want to push for more in the pouring rain, I was asking her to do something outside the norm already.  I think that I'll be wishing for rain on dressage in the future from now on (nobody shoot me please)  because her test put us in 2nd place out of 12, quite a big division.

Then we had show jumping.  Annie was all business as usual in warm up and I did my usual jump 4 fences and then get the heck out of dodge before I screwed something up and rattled my confidence.... hey it works for me!

The starter course felt easy, organized, and rhythmical.  I counted my strides, I made mostly good turns, the jumps came easily.  Here's a photo of us skipping comfortably over a fence.  Ho hum.  No big deal here.  Go Annie!

  Photos courtesy of Lee Ann Zobbe


Then I decided to MAKE MY MOVE.  I've had this goal of Beginner Novice for years now.  It's just 2' 6" for gosh sake.  People on their 2yo TBs 4 days off the track can do it.  Kids on ponies can do it.  Everyone does it.  So why does it look so BIG?  So SCARY?  It's not just the size difference for me.  It's the filler (gulp panels), the oxers (gulp, those look W I D E), and the 2 stride (double size gulp).  Plus it's like boldly going into the great unknown depths of space on Annie.  Here I hurtle on a 20yo arabian whose entire experience of jumping consists of everything that I've spastically taught her.  Just stop and think about that for a moment.  Scary isn't it?  I jumped "BN" at Dan Hobyn but it tends to be a "soft" course in a comfortable and casual environment with only the two rolltops to worry about.

NOW OR NEVER.  Here I was at a place I was familiar with, looking at fences I've jumped a million times, under the watchful glare of my trainer, and all of my fans (I HAVE FANS?).  So I did it.

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Fence one was a spectacular failure.  I failed to keep enough leg on and Annie was quite surprised by both the increase in height and the sudden appearance of a back rail.  I got jumped right out of the saddle and lost my stirrups.  So I paused on the backside of fence 1 I pulled up, picked up my stirrups, and considered my options.

1.  pack it in and go home right then.

2.  Get my shit together and ride

I gave myself a little pep talk, vowed to ride like I freaking knew how, picked up my canter, signed my will, and finished the course.  Did I mention that I actually CANTERED the entire course?

It frankly took everything I had to not unfurl my parachute and squeeze my eyes closed in the two stride (I have no idea if it was 2 or 3 strides if that tells you anything) and to keep my leg on hurtling toward the panels.  It wasn't pretty, it wasn't thoughtful, and I probably looked like an idiot, but we made it.  

A huge part of that I owe to my horse who humored me over some less than pretty riding on my part, here's the same fence as above


Note my death stare at the fence, chicken arms, and swinging leg.  How quickly I forget everything I've ever been taught.  However, we did it.  I had a run out to fence 7 because I was so busy celebrating making it over the 2 stride I forgot to turn but who's counting?  

I think my legs have stopped shaking by now.


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