Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mind Games

The only thing worse than seeing a 32 year old woman have a temper tantrum because her horse is being fresh is seeing a 32 year old woman have an emotional breakdown because she can't jump over a X-rail without her horse grabbing the bit and diving to the left. Yes, this was me today. When opportunity knocks, you open the door. I had the chance to go XC schooling with Cindy at Stone Gate Farm today. Probably not the best idea considering Bastian is coming off of a week and half of stall rest and he was rarin' to go, but this is what eventers do, for better or worse we go out there and make the best of it.

Part I: Lovely!!

This was our first XC school of the season and Bastian's second XC school of his life. He was initially good, we warmed up in their dressage/stadium arenas and just trotted and cantered a bit until he felt relaxed and had had a look at everything. Our first fence was horrendous. It was a little x, we trotted up to it and he was being so good until we got to our spot and he said "oh shit! where did that come from" at which point he leapt straight up into the air and came down ON the jump. But then he at least had the good sense to be abashed so we came at it again he he took it lovely, then we curved up to a little 2' vertical, again, lovely. We did that a few times then the moment of truth, there was a 2'6" vertical set up and I decided if I was going to be jumping XC, I had better be able to get myself from one side of that fence to the other. So we cantered it and he waited and jumped and landed so beautifully, so we did it again to make sure it wasn't just a fluke and all I can say is wow. He was on. I gave him an enthusiastic pat and we made our way into the XC field.

Part II: Breakdown

Somewhere, we lost it. Bastian said "Wheeeeee!!!!!!!!!!" and I said "oh shit." All we were trying to do was trot and canter in the big open field up and down the slight hills. He was behind my leg and I was too scared to push him forward. Although I know that when Bastian is like this I need to put leg on so that he has guidance or else he will expend his energy as he sees fit, which includes mini-bucks. But I rarely put this intelligent plan into action. Something I need to work on. So we went back to the stadium warm up and he was revved up and I started hanging on his mouth and this combined with my lack of leg led to a funky spot x-rail followed by diving left and bucking. Once this happens once, it's nearly impossible for me to regain that calm, cool perspective on jumping that Bastian and I need. It got worse and worse until he suddenly realized that the horse we had traveled with was gone and he decided to SCREAM (something I cannot abide in horses) followed by a buck, rear and a spin. I jumped ship. He has never shown attachment to any horse before and I cannot say how disappointed I am in my usually oh so level headed bachelor. So we lunged in their roundpen for about 10 minutes where he ran, bucked and spun to his little heart's content. During the jumping I alternately cried (sobbed) and yelled some not very nice obscenities at my horse. (temper tantrum)

Part III: Redemption

I got back on. We trotted the X-rail twice and he was good. I really thought about keeping my hands soft and keeping my leg on. What a difference actually riding makes ;P Back out to the XC field. There was a BN coop out there, Jackie had me walk him by it and then we discussed me actually jumping it. She wanted to know if I was going to trot it or canter it. Here was my response:

"I can't trot it because I know I won't have enough leg, and I'm too scared to canter it, so neither?"

Good answer right? So we put the coop on the back burner and went and trotted through the water a few times, he LOVES the water, I don't foresee that ever being a problem XC. Then we did their bank, which he was also a champ about, he is really good about the up and down. Then we proceeded to go up the bank, jump over a tiny little log going down the bank then a few strides to a BN (?)log. Here he proved what an AWESOME and HONEST horse he is, I decided we were doing the BN log, but we came off of the little log with no impulsion, I had seriously slipped my reins and he tripped at the base of the BN log, but I kept my leg on and he just hopped over it like it was no big deal. I had done it, it wasn't pretty but we got from point A to point B, together. So we did the bank again and then trotted around to that scary BN coop, I kept my leg on and he said "yes ma'am" and jumped it without a second look. We came around again at a canter and we could have had a bit more pace, but he was soft and we hit our spot, he jumped it like an old pro, landed and cantered on. I was quite happy with him. We did two more tiny fences, like 18", they were little, but he kept himself together and I kept my mind in the game.

That is all this is for us right now, a lack of experience and me keeping my mind in the game. I'm still aiming for the starter division at Winona, we can handle it. Between now and then Cindy and I are going to try to get off the property as much as possible and ride out in the big bad world. With experience and miles I'll get to the point where I feel as confident on Bastian as I did on Melvin. Melvin was a great confidence booster, he was a genuine point and shoot guy, you could be hanging off of his ears and he would just get from one side to the other. This was us at the Lost Hounds Pony Club Horse Trials doing the Novice division:

I CAN DO IT. I WILL DO IT. Today was rough, it doesn't matter. It happened, I learned from it and Bastian and I will move on.


  1. Girl... You are not alone! Way to make it happen... even if you needed to use a bit of salty language here and there!