So almost two months ago – before I changed barns, but after I decided I wanted to event – a couple friends and I decided to go cross country schooling at Poplar Place and get a lesson from the wonderful Werner Geven. It was to be a magical day of riding. My very first cross-country experience! And Ollie’s too.
When we arrived, the other lady riding – the wonderful Aubrey who took pro photos of me and the Olls – and I tacked up and headed out to the field. She was to have her lesson first, so I just kind of hand walked Ollie around while they lessoned. And at one point, I thought I should just go ahead and hop on and walk instead. Got a leg up, and it went like this:
Me: What a wonderful, but hot day! This is going to be fun.
Ollie: tappity tap tap tap jig
Me: Oh, you’re tap dancing. OK, settle down, GEEZ. Stop freaking out.
Ollie: tappity tap tap tap jig, electric slide
Me: OK, really, stop dancing around. You’re annoying me.
Ollie: tappity tap tap tap jig, macarena
Me: Oh Jesus, stop. This is not good. STOP FREAKING OUT.
Ollie: No, YOU STOP FREAKING OUT.
Me: STOP FREAKING OUT, I MEAN IT.
OLLIE: DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!
Me: Oh crap, dismount. End the madness!
Which, in hindsight, was the worst thing to do. So, Aubrey’s lesson ends, and it’s my turn. So Ollie’s friends leave, and it’s just him and me. And it became Ollie’s Worst. Day. Ever. He did not like being alone in a strange place with only his anxiety-ridden mama. He started calling out for them and would not stand still. By the time Werner Geven came back for our lesson, we were a hot mess. Such a hot mess. I got the least graceful leg up of my life (All my fault – Hi, Ollie’s right side! I decided I wanted to face plant into you today!), and the lesson began.
Me: “So, um…. Ollie’s hard to control in open space and cantering him there freaks me out and OHGEEZIDON’T WANTTOCANTER. MAYBEJUSTTROTJUMPSOHMYGODWE’REALLGOINGTODIE.”
So maybe I didn’t say that exactly, but that’s the general translation. Werner’s eyes got real big, and he sized us up in about one second: weenie rider, nervous horse, and we were just spoon-feeding each other our neuroses. We like to share.
So we walked, and aimed at me having control of my non-listening horse. GET FIRM, LADY! We walked over amoeba jumps back and forth and halted a lot. Then we moved on to trotting over amoeba/tadpole stuff and immediately halted afterwards. Eventually, I got Olls to be listening to me- and abiding. But it took some time to get him to focus on me and not 1.) The imaginary monsters and 2.) His friends happily resting back at the trailer.
It came to the point where trying out the water complex became a good idea. Once again, I started freaking out on the inside, and Werner told me to relaaaaaaax. I tried my best to, I really did (really need to get that Xanax….). So we started to go into the water, and Ollie was a bit apprehensive, but with one little kick, he started to go in.
And then, he amused us all with his really intent stare down at the scary water, but he trucked right on through.
After that, we did a couple more tiny logs, and as soon as I said I wanted to try something a bit bigger, that’s where Werner said we should call it a day – leave me and Ollie both wanting more. I have to say, if he ever gives up this eventing thing, he has a wonderful career ahead of him as a sports psychologist. He knew exactly what I needed to hear and do, and the same with Ollie. We left happy, confident, and hungry for more. Exactly how it should be. I can’t wait to try it again, and hopefully we’ll both be a bit more brave. I think we will.