|Photo by Liz Kast|
You see, in order to "Reverse the Curse", expectations were gonna be kind of high since our performance at Town Hill the last three tries were... um... not great:
- 2013 - A much too aggressive correction equaled a very white buttocks galloping off into the sunset (http://confessionsofanaaer.blogspot.com/2013/09/grrrr-gone-wild.html)
- 2012 - Two stops on course and being dumped after completing XC (http://confessionsofanaaer.blogspot.com/2012/09/winning-with-8577.html)
- 2010 - Two stops at the same jump (pre-blogging days) and an abysmal dressage test.
|Water Complex at sundown|
Generally, dressage is a sh*t show since warming up alongside galloping XC horses is tooo exciting for one to remain earthbound. Wait! They moved dressage far away from an active XC course? There is an eventing god!
Our warmup was going to be different this time. Dressage Trainer and I had a long conversation on how to keep my little princess' hooves on the ground. Just keep her moving, turns on the forehand... canter when you can... return to turns on the forehand. Keep her brain and body engaged.
|Photo used with permission|
The Judge mentioned that she really wanted to be doing 4th level dressage... And scored us with a generous 35.5.
Sugar's Twenty-Something-Friend (TSF) was our compatriot and competing her fabulous Youngster at Training level. Her times were early and tight. Here is where I confess... Anxiety was once again my unwelcome guest. I so want to be the kind of Eventing Friend that you want to travel with and not a whiny/needy/weeny rider... (A girl has to have goals.) I did not want to fall apart in a heap of self misery and loathing. So I took Dressage Trainer's advice, "do one task at a time, keep moving" until it was my time to roll.
|2013 THF |
Photo used w/ permission
And when we approached the oxer with the box underneath it in the warmup, Sug spooked and dumped me. Well, that's my version. Sug's TSF's version is that she did spook, I leaned and stopped riding and dismounted ungracefully. "Now do it again!"
Stadium Jumping - double clear!
In the XC warmup, Sug's TSF told me to go out on course, jump one jump and then look to the next. If at any point, I felt we needed to retire, we could after jumping the next jump. (Hmmmm) And, added. ride your line and the combinations will come right where you want them to be... just hold your line and ride her... Don't push her either before or after the jump - just keep your leg on and allow the jump to happen.
5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 Have a great ride!
It took 4 jumps before it felt that Sug was on fire... She was game and goey but still questioned the possibility of a zombie apocolypse beginning with each approaching jump. As long as I stayed in the game and encouraged her forward, she jumped (haybales, houses and barns) At Fence 4, we had a slight discussion about the reality of zombies. I kept my leg on her and instead of spooking and spinning, she drifted right and I took out the flag...
|Wish I could say I was fist pumping at the finish... |
just fixing the helmet!
Photo by Polly Phillips
And, we were off... no discussions, no spooks... just gallop and jump. When we came up to my nightmare fence, I trusted the experience of Sug's TSF, held our line... trusting and still riding. Sugar jumped the brush up and through me (like a flower opening) hit the ground and galloped to the oxer like a PRO. When we landed, she pulled... I said loudly for her to hear... "Girl, if you want to gallop, you just go ahead! Run like the wind because nothing will be better than that for me!"
Finished clear with .4 speed faults... Reverse the Curse! Check!
There is nothing better than running xc clean and fast. And, every time I do it, I know I can do it. The nerves fall away, the mind clears and it is just Sugar and I...
Let me repeat - Nothing will be better than that for me!