What the $#*!@ have I done?

So during yesterday’s lesson, I asked my trainer, Nicky, a fateful question that will lead to certain death. This is how it went:*

Me: “So….what do you think about Oliver and me doing a dressage-only show at the horse park in September? You know, just to get our feet wet?”


Me: “Um, what?”

Nicky: “You know, the Poplar Place schooling show and do the combined training. And then if you don’t die during that, you can go cross country schooling while you’re there and finish the job in the field. Oh, and by the way, the show is practically tomorrow, so go ahead and get your effects in order. Do you have a living will?”

* All verbiage appearing in this transcript is fictitious. Any resemblance to real conversations, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

That’s what I heard anyway.Ā  And I let myself be talked into it. So the show is in three weeks. And yes, it will just be Tadpole level, doing walk-trot dressage, and 2′ showjumping, but SWEET BABY JESUS, THIS IS ALL NEW. I do have a few things going for me:

  1. Ollie loves to jump, and if I get him straight, he goes over anything.
  2. He *can* have a nice walk and trot.
  3. It’s just two feet.

And a few things going against me:

  2. There are no real fences and gates in a dressage arena.
  3. I have to actually have my shit together enough to MAKE that trot nice.
  4. Ollie views two feet as something of an insult and may or may not stage a protest by not lifting his damn legs and crashing through.


Plan of attack is to keep him AWAY from the arena entrances at all times, even if we get marked down for it. Better down than…. out.

But yesterday’s jump lesson had me realizing that even more of “our” problems are “my” problems. This seems to be a common theme. Turn problems while jumping? I’m falling forward and sideways and throwing us both off balance, and not using my reins properly. I’m pulling his giant hunk of neck around instead of using all of me to move all of him. Those little left bulges that lead to runouts or standard crashes? I’m not getting him straight enough and SOON ENOUGH. I need to remember that if I open that door an inch, he’s crashing through. Sometimes quite literally. I need to remember to ride him every inch of the way.

Yeah, things are pretty much my fault.
Yeah, things are pretty much my fault.

But, we’ll get there. And if we are an abysmal failure at the show, well – I can take that. Status quo and all. And my plan in the event of failure? Adult beverages. My plan for good rounds? Adult beverages. That simplifies my planning process.

But I’m looking forward to trying cross country again now that we’ve gained some collective confidence (and more full-seat breeches.) I think Ollie is looking forward to it too; on the way in to get his dinner this week, he went well out of his way to jump this back and forth about five times, just for funsies:

Mom, it's not you, it's me. I've outgrown you.
Mom, it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve outgrown you.

He’s either saying he wants to go cross country schooling again, or he’s telling me to man the eff up and jump higher. Or both.

So the next three weeks will be filled with much riding in preparation for our final days on this planet. I’m glad I got to experience my new-found joy that is rubber reins before I die, though. Rubber reins are awesome.