Yesterday was cold and rainy/snowy and windy. I was tired, crampy, and had just dumped half a bucket of soaked alfalfa cubes down my vest (horses are so glamorous), and my desire to ride was nil. But I was already at the barn so I figured I'd give both Bobby and myself a break over the semantics of dressage and pop over a couple little fences in the indoor.
|last naked turnout day for awhile.|
where are you, spring?
My oxer from last week (that was 2'9" and I jumped without a second thought) had been put down to an X at which I left it, and I added a 2'3" vertical on the other diagonal off a short turn out of the corner.
Bobby warmed up really well, especially for being in jump tack which generally means: No flatting, just go fast! I let him have a quick hand gallop around the ring to get any stupids out before taking a walk break. Short stirrups and I need to get better acquainted. Dressage may be working on ye olde fat roll, but it's not doing much for ye olde galloping position. Maybe if it ever stopped raining/snowing I could take my horse out on trails and do some conditioning work. Just throwing that out there, New York.
I picked our canter back up and made sure Bobby was moving right along coming into the X. We turned in and I blanked. I stared down this harmless 18" cross rail and all I could think was, "I fucking hate jumping." Bobby took a long spot, and since I was sitting in my saddle ramrod straight (BM's yelling over the past few months has been good for me as well as Bobby), all that happened was that I got left behind and had to slip the reins.
Only now I was feeling queasy. Oh, shit. We didn't hit that fence from the perfect distance, death and destruction are sure to follow.
Obviously my solution was to come back with the same approach and see if things magically fixed themselves. Spoiler alert: they didn't.
|from last week's good jump school|
Despite my completely irrational fear trying to worm it's way even further into my rapidly shrinking lady balls, I reminded myself of the conversation Tracy and I had. Repetition is key. It doesn't matter how small the fences are, if you just keep getting over them, every successful attempt will make you that much braver.
I got Bobby's canter a little more packaged. When we turned in, I remembered my half halt. This jump was teeny tiny. It didn't need a balls to the wall approach. Unsurprisingly, this turned the whole thing around. Bobby took off from the perfect spot and essentially just cantered right over it instead of heaving himself over from ten feet away. Rinse and repeat a few more times with equal success before tackling the vertical.
Our first approach there was atrocious. It came off of a very short turn, Bobby didn't really know what the fuck we were even doing until I'd shoved the jump in his face, but despite sputtering out to a flailing trot, he hopped over anyway. I brought him back to it from a put together trot and he was just fine after that.
From there I wove the X and the vertical together-canter the X, trot the vertical. Bobby was good, so I reversed direction and took the long approach to both fences. Fine for the X, but from the trot to the vertical, Bobby started to go up and down instead wanting to canter. I took a deep breath, put my leg on to send him forward out of the hopping while keeping my fingers closed to let him know "go" did not mean "go really fast run", and he calmly stretched out and cantered the last three strides before quietly popping over the jump.
|so clean and shiny he's blinding himself.|
Really, the whole ride Bobby didn't do a thing wrong. He was soft and listened to everything I told him to do, even if what I was telling him wasn't the best decision. No stopping, no running, no tantrums. I gave him his due praise each time he packed my ass over a fence from a pukey distance, and we were done after fifteen minutes total ride time.
Even so, I got off feeling sick to my stomach. We were done, nothing bad had happened, and yet I still had this feeling of dread. We've got thirteen long months until the first show of the 2017 eventing season. If cross rails still seem like a death trap at that point, then hey--that makes it twenty five long months until the first show of the 2018 season.
I'm not anticipating that much mental brokenness though. I think once we get to hunter pacing, maybe a couple tiny hunter shows, and we're not being rained/snowed on, my brain will get a little bolder. One jump at a time, right?