As I mentioned in the opening of Day 1’s recap, Day 2 started in the completely opposite way: not good.
No, I didn’t fall off (yet), but I had a flat out refusal over a tiny baby oxer. An oxer so small Gus could have stepped over it. No one else had had an issue, Gus should not have had an issue but I had not gotten him in front of my leg and, being just a little tired, Gus wasn’t having any of it.
I could feel the tears welling up. I wanted a hole to open up and swallow us. I wanted Lainey to tell me we were hopeless and to send me home. I wanted to be anywhere but at that clinic. Instead I sniffled, put my shoulders back and tried again, this time with some actual forward momentum.
Obviously, Lainey did not tell me to get off. Instead we talked about Gus and what I was going to need to do to really bring out his full potential (because, as we all know, Lainey loves Gus). Besides the fact that I need to sit up and not get ahead of the jump, I need to support Gus every step of the way. He’s a wonderful jumper but a careful horse. If he doesn’t feel like it’s safe, and I don’t tell him that it is, he’s going to stop. And I need to tell him it’s safe by keeping him in front of my leg and sitting tall.
Crazy how I needed a reminder on something I had written about just days ago but I did.
You would think after that things would run relatively smoothly. But no, you would be wrong. I forgot everything that Lainey told me and had another stop at the first jump in a triple line. Another oxer, this time slightly bigger. We got over it the second time and then after he had already gone over the dang thing, Gus dumped me.
My first fall with Gus. And right in front of Lainey. Ugh.
But you know what we didn’t have a refusal or fall at?
The triple bar.
Or the big Swedish oxer.
Or the Liverpool.
That’s right, sometimes Gus and I know how to get a job done. I think I was so over confident that Gus would just go over that little oxer that I didn’t ride to it like I rode to the fences I knew would bother him. So that’s my fault. But Lainey didn’t give Gus a pass on this one either. Her philosophy is pretty much exactly like mine. The horse has to go over and while we can give some leeway with new things when they’re green, Gus had no excuse on that little oxer. It was small and he had already jumped it. He should have gone even if I was hanging halfway off him.
Somewhat to my surprise, we actually were able to get through the whole course once without a major issue. Hillary even got it on video for me.
This clinic ended up being exactly what I needed. It’s a reminder that I still need a lot of work and that Gus hasn’t become some magically seasoned horse. We’ll get there though.
In the end, after watching the video from Hillary and having a few good nights to sleep on it, I’m glad I went. Lainey is such a wonderful mentor and I would love to ride with her more regularly. Thankfully I have the next best thing in LT and I know she will sooth my bruised ego and get Gus and I in sync in time for our first HT.