Well, summer is over, at least for the greater Seattle area and our sun is turning into rain. I know this is kind of just part of living in the Emerald City but I was really enjoying the beautiful sunny days. For the record, I like the rain. I don’t like the perpetual cloud cover. Anyway, it’s been raining all week but thankfully cleared up just in time to trailer down for a XC school at Caber farms yesterday.
The rain did do one really good thing though, it had softened the ground just enough for it to not be hard but not get mushy. The footing was great!
But guys, seriously, the flies and more importantly the WASPS at Caber were insane. Even though I had doused Dandy in fly spray while we were getting ready it just wasn’t enough and shortly after I started I sent Eric back for the bottle. All three horses in my group needed it. Dandy, who can not seem to get over being annoyed by being sprayed even allowed Eric to put it on his face, that’s how nasty the bugs were.
Despite some less than perfect directions and some tense moments as we had to back the trailer out and turn around several times, we did finally make it. Getting lost made us arrive a bit later than I had planned so I had to hurry and tack up to be ready for our 11:30 ride time. I made it, but it turns out we were running late so I did an extended warm up and went to watch some of the other rides.
I’ll admit that I was really nervous about riding Dandy and jumping him. While I did pop over some jumps a few days ago, I hadn’t had a jumping lesson since we went schooling at Aspen and there I had to deal with some major buddy sour issues. Apparently Dandy makes friends very easily. So one thing I wanted to work on was leaving the group and doing our own thing. And that’s what we did. I stood with the group from our barn for a good while and watched some of the other girls working on novice and training questions before turning Dandy away to go gallop down the field. Dandy was tense as I did this, and I was tense, but I pushed for forward and there were no issues.
Finally it was my groups turn to go. It was Dandy and I, and two gray horses. Both girls on the grey horses were way more confident about the day then I was. I could barely hear JLE as my heart was pounding so hard!
We started with just a little hopeful log to warm up and I had to really work on my straightness after the jump and developing a good rhythm to the jump. As we moved up to the BN log I got in big trouble because while Dandy had a beautiful rhythm, it was an appropriate speed for training and way too fast for BN. We chipped in hard and I came back around more collected.
Once we were warmed up JLE planned out a string of jumps. We were going to do the BN log to the BN roll top, back to the log and then across the field to a second BN log and then a bench jump. Suddenly I got really nervous. I had to gallop across a field by myself. And jump jumps by myself without JLE there to help.
“I’m nervous.” I told her when it was just me and her left.
“Don’t be.” She said.
So I swallowed the panic and picked up a canter. The first three jumps went fine and the roll top felt especially good. Then we got going. Every step Dandy took across the field he got more powerful and stronger. I found my line to the log and sat up in my saddle, asking for Dandy to come back. He did NOT want to come back. I could hear JLE yelling at me to collect and put him back together. I was trying! I managed to get some semblance of a nice canter just strides before the log and we popped over. Next was the bench and this jump did scare me. I kept sitting up, played with my fingers and put my legs on. Dandy bounded over without even a peak.
I pulled up and gave him a huge pat. I was shaking with adrenaline and gasping for breath (apparently I hadn’t breathed that entire run?!) but I was also smiling. We had done it. Well, I knew Dandy could do it but I had actually helped him to do it. I had conquered my fear. At least for now.
That’s what this entire afternoon had been about for me and it was everything that I needed it to be. We conqured galloping in the field, leaving a group, jumping jumps Dandy had never seen before, broken lines, baby ditches and stringing several questions together. While I was exhausted and weak when we were done, I was so so happy. Now I actually feel like I can do this and that I could make it through a BN course.
There may be one more schooling show coming up here but I’m not positive that I’ll go. Either way we’ll be working hard on our fear issues this fall/winter and be ready to rock it next spring.