Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Photo by Liz Kast
In 2004, after 86 seasons, the Boston Red Sox ended the Curse of the Bambino...    Now, I am not a multi-million dollar baseball player and I'm not going for World Series glory and fame.  No, I'm just a Master (aged) BN rider who just wanted to (in the order of importance), stay in the tack all the way back to the trailer, complete the event, and/or go clean...  I wondered as I dropped my Town Hill Horse Trials entry, if I could Reverse my Curse in four! 

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:
Water Complex at sundown
Friends would ask, 'Why do you keep going there if you do so badly each year?"  Why?  They run a beautiful event, over great terrain, with cool jumps and questions, are efficient scoring and are really nice people.   And if you do well, there are prizes that go with the brightly colored polyester.

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
And when it was our turn, I walked her up to the judges booth/scary pop up tent and then proceeded at a nice slow trot, shoulder-fore and leg yielding.  For the first half of the test, I actually felt that we were going to break into the 20's and then, out of the corner of her eye, Sugar caught the galloping horses way off in the XC field.  She lept up and over in a huge spook at B and did two tempe changes on the canter circle to the left.  She accepted every aid as a call to for aires above ground.  We finished cantering down the center line into a nice square halt (got an 8). 

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
Anxiety sucks.... there I said it!  What folks don't hear is the ranting going on in my head....  (I'm done!, I can't do this!, This is too hard!  What if Sugar jumps the brush (7a) and then sees the oxer (7b) and spins me off in a spook?... blah, blah, blah!) 

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!


Cricket said...

Congrats on conquering yourself. That's always the hardest part.

Yeah for you and Sug!!!

Boss Mare Eventing said...

I have a cursed event too...glad you were able to beat this one! I have to go back next year for mine :( lol

Austen said...

Awesome!! So proud of you! What an experience. :)