Sunday, September 1, 2013


Sometimes you just gotta break some rules...  you know... get a little bad, make a little madness and just let go!  Yeah, that feels real nice and a little naughty...  Unfortunately, as a Master (old) Rider, the only rules I'm breaking (and way too often) are Judy Rossi's Four Rules of Eventing:
Four Rules of Eventing
  1. Leave together and come back together
  2. Don't scare the spectators
  3. No crying in Eventing (unless its with sheer joy in the moment)
  4. Nobody cares on Monday
Course Walks at Sunset...  a bonus for Eventers!
The only rule I did not break at Town Hill Horse Trials this weekend is #3.  I did not cry and I believe after I had a moment of cursing as I watched the white buttocks galloping away, I laughed.  We were having a most awesome XC run... galloping in stride, a horse jumping up and under me and a lightness of heart and the thrill of the moment...  until that second when I over-reacted and Ms Sugar reacted in kind and thus broke Rules #2 and then Rule #1.  And I will be telling this story again on Monday (#4).

Sometimes a trainer is just a trainer - "Do this, more hind leg, do that again and (my personal favorite) Well, I wouldn't have done it THAT way!" - tuning you up to perform well, maybe even better than expected.   And other times... their words are sheer genius...  At Town Hill, my Eventing Trainer did not tell me to "get after her", "growl at her", "get a little mad", "be mad"...  no, this time she quietly said, "Ride her calmly and tactfully!  Let her know you mean business but be calm, be tactful and pat her if she seems to be ramping up.  Be determined, calm and tactful!"

Hmmm, do you think she was trying to make a point?
Bestest Eventing Buddy at PT

Sug had the agitation of a mare in high heat.  I had her brain but it seemed to be perched on the edge of a Mariah Carey diva fit.  She warmed up like a lady for dressage with just an occasional leap.  Calmly and tactfully using walk trot transitions to keep her brain and engage her body.  Canter leg yields loosened her up where I actually felt a supple back and neck.  Then we moved to the second warm up area between the two dressage rings and wah lah, like magic, Mariah Carey showed up.  And, the challenge was to make it to the arena without an explosion. 

Our dressage test was much like my college grades...  A's and F's with little in between.   I do think we impressed the judge with tempe changes on the right lead canter circle.  We got a 5 for the movement (generous) but I think she gave me the extra point for clean changes on a 20 meter circle.  35.4 - 10th place - "Tactful ride on difficult tense horse."  Middle of the Pack - Yay us! 

On to the jumping phases!  The progress I'm making on my nerves (panic attacks/anxiety) is steady.  I'm no where near cured and still scream in my head before the jumping phases.  I'm just getting better slowly.  I've learned to meditate and clear my brain of demons as often as possible... slowly.  The work I'm doing on my anxiety has everything to do with "being in the moment" and breathing with deep yoga breathes... soothing me, allowing life to fill my lungs and relaxing my horse. 

Town Hill is a fabulous event which upped the anty this year.  Tremaine Cooper redid the XC track and it was a great improvement on an already fine venue.  The course was gallopy, used the undulation of the Connecticut hills and added some great questions (not for horses new at this level).  Stadium Jumping is always challenging here but Sug and I seem to like it because we always go clean.  This year's had some fascinating turns that made it look fun.

Our Stadium Jumping was the best ever!  We were calm.  I rode tactfully, tight in the tack with a strong lower leg.  I allowed her to jump after making it clear (calmly) that nothing would jump out and bite her.  And she did in the most hunterly fashion... in rhythm with a good jump.  I was elated - Double Clear!  Then off to XC.

(I have witnesses...)

Our XC run was amazing... for the first time in a long time, we galloped at jumps and jumped them in stride.  Nothing seemed to bother us...  not the white house with the green top (#3), not the big brush jump, not even the ditch four strides to the gray house (#7 & #8).  My trainer felt that I was a little tough with my seat at the feeder combination (#10a and b).  My line through the water took us in the path of a Training house and I knew if I had asked she would have taken it.  She galloped through that water and then two strides up and over the roll top.
This is the buttocks
Picture it riderless! ;)

Fence 13 is a bench filled with hay bales.  Now, if you read this blog you might know that Sug and I have "hay bale issues".  Many an E has been at hay bale filled jumps - not all - but many.  I was determined to JUMP THAT JUMP!  When Sugar picked her head up, 7 strides away, in a spook like motion, I spanked her (hard?) on her shoulder.  And, my athletic-one-tempe-changes-can-canter-in-place-and-leap-into-the-air lil' pinto pony did a 180, spinning her Master (old) Rider off onto the ground just three jumps from the finish.

The poor jump judge...  After she asked me if I was ok, she said somewhat still startled, "You guys looked great through the water.  I never saw anything spin so fast!"  Thus violating #2 - Don't scare the spectators.

It was not a tactful correction followed up by a supporting leg.  It was an over-reaction to a perceived threat that, I believe, actually proved to Sugar that something will jump out and bite her.  Yes, she was over dramatic...  I think if I had followed the day's advice, "Be determined! Ride calmly and tactifully!" at worse we would have had a refusal but maybe we would have jumped the jump.  Who knows!

Those ears, like that, are telling a story!
Best line of the day...  Sug took off like her butt was on fire.  (God, she is beautiful galloping riderless!)  And after being caught, they asked my Bestest Eventing Buddy if she wanted the vet to look at her...  Stonefaced and innocent she replied, "Why?  Does she want to euthanize her?"  Gotta love Eventers!

Next time...  maybe we won't need the GRRRRR, maybe we should use the grrrrr instead!  I'm still smiling...  it was a good weekend that might have been great!  I'll smile knowing that it was good and be ok with that!


Amy said...

Oh sweet baby Jesus, I'm sorry, but I laughed. I felt empowered because it seemed to me like you were laughing a bit, too. Bless that mare's heart. I don't know what made me giggle more, Bestest Eventing Buddy's quote or the jump judge's quote.
Love your attitude -- you'll get there, i know you will! Glad to hear that the SJ went so well, and that 80% of the XC went well, too.

Amanda said...

Great attitude! I know I've been there done that with the over-reacting thing. So glad you can laugh about it, better luck next time!

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh...This post made me smile! . I was so concerned when I saw the results from Town Hill. But you sound like you are fine, lived to laugh about it and are ready to fight ( ride? cuss? Grrrr? ) another day. Gotta love this sport!!