Monday, September 16, 2013


I really don't think any of us want to be thirteen again...  you know, that awkward, hormonal stage of your life where your desires overwhelm, emotions consume and everything feels so serious...  Does he like me?  Oh no, he is soo cute and I think he likes me!  Is that a pimple? Oh my god, my life is ruined!  {{{Squirrel!}}}}
What "fun" looks like - not!

What do you do when it happens at a show?  You know...  a day where your desire overwhelms, emotions consume and everything is so serious...  I for one, thought... hmmm I have spent alot of time, money and resources at working on "curing" my anxiety and for what? Waterworks! 

SHORT STORY - tied for fifth after dressage with a 34.8 ("Nice horse"), tied for fourth after stadium jumping and second place after cross country finishing on my dressage score.  But what is an event if all you're left with are numbers?

I was ok with the RF at Town Hill and still feeling fabulous about our performance up to fence 13.  Then someone at the barn said, simply, after hearing my story, "Well, you know what the definition of insanity is, right?  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results..." 

Photo used with permission
Calm, yet determined at
Town Hill Horse Trials
That statement, like termites on wet wood, began to eat at me until all I had left was the image of Sug spinning me off and galloping away.  I was defeated... done.  To do any more eventing on Sugar was insane and I had to retire her from the sport.  And, when I could afford two horses, go back to competing.

 I told my Bestest Eventing Buddy (and anyone else that I saw) that I "reserved the right" to not do any of the jumping phases if I felt it was going to be hard.  I was resolved and sad - Sugar and I as a team were retiring.

At GMHA, I decided to at least do dressage.  Here, Sugar was so soft and rideable in the warm up until she envoked her inner Mariah Carey by leaping and spinning into an amazing diva fit at the canter.  I got angry and wanted to do battle but I heard my trainer's voice to "bring her to a walk, get her brain back and then go back to the canter". 

It worked until another MC explosion and we did the equine equivalent of trying to figure out what Ms Sugar wanted...  "Excuse me Ms Carey, shall we ask the cute bay mare to move away? Or shall we sing your praises and scratch your wither?  "Doth the gray gelding with the big gaits disturb you?  Please, what is it that you want Madame?"  The rest of the warmup was geared to soothing the savage beast.

She was surprisingly rideable for the test.... nothing brilliant but enough 6's and 7's to be in the mid thirties.  I'll take it!

Stadium was at 4:18 and my mindset was detiorating.  "I will do this last SJ round and we are done! I will not do XC tomorrow.  This is it!  She is retired from eventing after this."   I walked the course twice and watched about 15 rides.  I was good to go and ready for the final round. 

What? A new ring and course?
One of the "funniest" things to watch is the faces of folks in the warm up when we find out that they switched rings on us and changed the course.  It was like a dam broke or someone kicked up a hornets nest...  the frenzy built and we all were rushing the ring like a fire broke out behind us.

Here is where I want to tell you that all the work I'm doing really paid off and that this little change was handled in stride and I stepped up to the plate like a pro.  Sigh...  not my story...  I crashed and burned like the 13 year old who just found out that he really didn't like her... 

I lost it!  I quit on the spot!  This was too much for my brain to handle!  "I am done!  I can not do this!  I am done!"  Tears, apologies to my trainer, more tears, gulping air, more tears and more apologies to my trainer.  "I can't handle this."

Apparently, I was just the third or fourth adult rider of hers that day with a breakdown.  So, with skill and I'm sure practice, she got me into the ring.  She told me that I could quit, no one would think me strange but why don't I act like she was teaching me a lesson and just do the course without walking it.  Just go in and ride Sugar like I did at Town Hill.  I sniffled, wiped my nose on my coat and gulped, "OK, but I'm not going XC tomorrow."
On our way home... Fence 13

I rode my spooky horse over jumps neither of us got to preview and we went clean.  The commentary was interesting - no cursing but alot of "Suuuuu gerrrrrrr, you will jump this!"  "Sugar, jump!" I am proud to say that I did not utter one curse word.

"Ok, I will ride Cross Country tomorrow but I reserve the right to retire her on course if she gives me one problem." 

Quick thing about the XC Course Walk with the Eventing Trainer...  At one point, I asked her which line to take coming out of the woods to fence 4 - this one which is slightly off set but I can do a bending line or this one which is very narrow that has me straight...  NEITHER, get out of the woods and ride it this way.  Her words of advice, "Don't do anything fancy...  just get straight at the jump and jump it." 

What?  Me, Quirky?
So over the weekend, Mariah Carey (aka Sugar) fell in love with her stall mate and traveling companion - The Fat One.  Her 13 year old experience was a hook up in the trailer and her parent keeping her away from illicit encounters.  He screamed his love for her as I warmed up and for every cry from his lips, she bounded upward in an exasperated attempt to return to their weekend hideaway.

5-4-3-2-1 HAVE A GREAT RIDE.  And as if a starting gate clanged open, Sugar was in a race to get back to TFO.  She wanted to spook but I kept riding her evenly and with energetic leg and she jumped.  This horse was on FIRE!  And as long as I stayed in the middle and "encouraged" her to go over the jump, she jumped.

You know, we both love a good gallop so I didn't nag or fight her most of the way.  Yet, twice I had to trot her to get some measure of attention...  going at Training speed is fine at Novice but at BN - not so much! And at one point, we blew by a tight turn.  I stopped her turned her around like a lady and cantered politely over jump.   

I did make one apology to the jump judge at fence 6 for screaming "SUGAR - JUST JUMP THE JUMP!".  This violation of The Four Rules of Eventing (Don't scare the spectators!) was about volume (thank god)!

Wooo hooo! Stayed in the tack
 all the way to the barn
And as I approached the final jump, I remembered a comment my Eventing Trainer said on our Course Walk...  "Keep the eye on the prize!"  And that statement carried us over the final jump.

And although I reserve the right to scratch my final event of the season and retire Sugar from eventing, we are scheduled to compete at UNH Fall Horse Trials in two weeks...  I just hope I age a bit more... maybe 26 is a good age - smart, cocky and unafraid...  hmmmm!


Amanda said...

You can do it!! In fact you already DID it!!

I hope you had some fun in there somewhere too. :)

Kate said...

I agree that competing successfully is mostly about telling your brain to STFU and letting your body and horse do their job! There's a reason we practice things over, and over, and OVER again...muscle memory can get the job done when all else fails.

Anyway, I'm proud of you for putting that diva in her place and gettin 'er done.

Tracy said...

When I am worried, I look for an excuse to stop. I'm not sure if this is how you see your story, but today I heard "I was scared, someone rattled me, but I did it anyways and completed the entire event!"

Congratulations :D

Amy said...

I love you! You crack me up -- and I so get this thinking. GOOD FOR YOU! YOU DID IT! Wish I were there to hear you exhorting her to jump, and kudos for not cursing. I think you should get some sort of award for that. :)

Christine said...

It can be so hard at times to determine if something is worth persisting with! Good on you.

Kat said...

Congrats! That's a huge accomplishment, seriously, I've had those moments and you kicked a** by kicking on :)