Sunday, May 22, 2011


Courtesy of
I've started this post a thousand ways... one was esoteric, the other with a story and another with a metaphor...  none of them really worked.  So this Jersey Girl (born, bred, raised in NJ but housed now in MA) needs to be direct and succinct.  I really hate Cross Country Schooling.  Ok, that's not quite true...  I hate the thought of XC schooling.  And, as my bestest Eventing Buddy once said, "Sometimes the best part of eventing is the ride home!"

Running a XC course is a piece of cake.  The course is laid out and approved by the Technical Delegate.  It's just me and my horse galloping away on a path that I've walked three times.   I am, in fact, galloping over jumps set safely over someones manicured front lawn.  It is orderly and sequential...  I get to leave at a very designated time...  And, that makes a control freak so happy. 

Oh, I talk a great story... Yup, ready to move up! That Training course had my name on it. That looked easy! Which event makes the best move up? Hey, can't wait to move up! And really... did I have to put in my Eventing Nation profile that one of my goals this year is to move up? Sometimes and particularly early this morning as I was driving to King Oak Farm, I wished I could just keep my mouth shut!

The first person who greeted me at the clinic was an accomplished Training rider who was making her move up to Preliminary.  Ah, my first bit of panic.  She was enthusiastic...  our schooling group consisted of two other Training riders planning their Prelim debut and me, Novice thinking, no, glamorizing an eventual move up to Training... sometime in the future.  My panic grew.

My head burst with thought - I am not worthy to be in your company.  Here, Nikki, you ride Sug...  Hey, you guys go ahead, I'll ride with the next group. I never really wanted to move up...  just kidding!  The sun is in my eyes.

The first series of jumps humbled me...  I could've cried.  Sugar was spooky and did not want to leave her new herd and I was filled with wimpiness and negative self talk.  Folks, let me assure you...  not a great way to start.   And as we galloped to a feeder/roll top thingy out in the field, I felt Sug hesitate.   Instead of encouraging her confidently with my leg and maintaining my center over the jump, I softened and leaned and Sugar ran out.  And we did the same thing, exactly the same way and got the very same result.  I wanted to leave in complete defeat... I'll just hunt instead.

Thank God I stayed (well, actually, no one would have let me leave).  It got better and then that got even better and then I found myself saying to the clinician (Stephie Baer) that I could do that exercise just like the big girls.  The panic never quite leaves but its mark lightens and almost becomes transparent. 

I think, for me, it became fun when we worked at the water.  When I was told, "Gallop over the Training Table, then over the Training Corner, jump into the water, keep your leg on and gallop out and over the Training Bench, roll back through the water and do the Novice (log thingy)."

My mind went white...  "I HAVE NEVER RIDDEN A CORNER BEFORE!!!!" screamed in my head.  My body and horse said, "Ok, I'll go first!"  And off we went, as if this exercise was no different than a 20 meter circle.  We nailed it (with encouragement)!  The rest of the school just kept getting better... and, I had fun!  Really had fun!
Courtesy of

My ride home was glorious, not totally self congratulatory but also reflective.  Showing produces tension and anxiety and I have many techniques to relieve the stress.  XC Schooling is immediate and unpredictable.  Maybe I need to work earlier on my nerves using the techniques that work so well. 

And, maybe if I truly stayed in the moment, the "what ifs" would lie dormant shriveling into nothingness.  Maybe then, I would love the randomness of XC schooling right here and right now!

1 comment:

SprinklerBandit said...

Lots of people moving up. Maybe it's enough encouragement for my wimpy self to actually try something!

Glad it worked out well for you guys. Well done!