This weekend, my barn organized a little brunch and group lesson/clinic of sorts for our boarders. We had the choice of doing a dressage lesson with our outside dressage trainer, or doing XC in the back field with Nicky, and then having brunch. I of course volunteered to bring a bloody mary bar, because, well….that’s how I roll. I opted for XC, and if you read my last post about our very first XC outing, you know it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for. I was secretly wishing we could move brunch to BEFORE we rode. So I could get a bit of liquid courage. But, alas… safety. Whatever, safety. I hate you.
So I arrived at the barn, where Ollie was pissy that he was left in and without any friends near him. He gave me The Look as I walked down the aisle, and I hoped that wasn’t going to be an omen for the day. We tacked up and headed out to the back field where we have quite a few XC jumps of all levels, including Certified Weenie™ like me. As soon as we got out there, the horses in the next pasture over – where Ollie goes – were calling out and running along the fence line, taunting us. Ollie was like, “WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE AND WHY CAN’T I BE WITH MY FRIENDS?”
Nicky told the five of us to warm up. You know, super casually. No big deal, just trot and canter a bit. I had to tell myself, “OK, just trot. No big deal. Forget the fact that the last time we were in an open field, Ollie saw fire-breathing dragons. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.” We trotted, and while Ollie was slightly tense (for him) at first, it wasn’t too bad. But then others started cantering, and his ears pricked forward so much I thought they were going to meet in the middle. I weenied out and said, “OK, we’re good here… not cantering!” My one ball had sucked itself halfway back up inside to rest.
Then the jumping came. We trotted over some Certified Weenie™ logs, and all was good. Then over a skinny on regular ol’ stadium standards, and Ollie was all la-dee-da about it. So far so good. I began to think I may not need my healthcare directive and living will. Then we built up to a short mini-course, ending on a log rolltop coming off a tight-for-Ollie turn. Chances of runout? Excellent.
Nicky, to Hattie her working student: “Put the pole up on one side as a barrier, and stand on the other side to help her out.”
Me: “You probably don’t want to stand on that left side….” Ollie is obnoxious in that he doesn’t care if he runs into other horses, people or natural barriers.
So we got over it, but I apparently was so nervous he was going to run out that I tried to jump it for him. Or maybe I wanted to go water skiiing.
And then I slightly redeemed myself.
Nicky, rubbing her hands together, “OK, time to test Ollie out a bit.”
I took a deep breath and prepared myself for my last moments on earth. I look around and wondered what she was having me do. Everyone had just been doing a little house jump that scared the bejesus out of me due to its width, and I was thinking PLEASEGODNOTTHAT. Instead, it was a little coop that looked fairly inviting. Ollie just trotted right over it, yet again.
Ollie kept amazing me more and more. And that one testicle started dropping back out slowly. He was just trotting around that field like he hadn’t a care in the world. Anyone watching would have thought, “Please let the hunter horse go back to being a hunter.” He was that relaxed and smooth. No gunning. No stupid antics. He only once had an issue going over some barrels, but it was my fault for not getting him straight enough. Give him an inch of wiggle and he’ll take a mile of OMG LEFT!
Eventually I was told to do a horse-eating jump. At least that’s what it looked like to me. I freaked a little, and the 11-year-old girl watching said, “I’ve gone over that. It’s not bad.” Damnit when the kids have bigger balls than I do. I had no choice – I was going over it. And wouldn’t you know it – it was Ollie’s best jump of the day.
And Ollie said, “NOW WE’RE TALKING.” Now he was still a hunter, but an awake hunter. If there is such a thing anymore.
At one point I was told to just “let Ollie canter” after the coop heading toward the skinny. Up the hill. I was pony-club kicking him, but Ollie had a conversation with me about it.
Ollie: “What the hell, mom. THIS IS A HILL.”
Me: “Well, yeah. And you’re supposed to canter up it.”
Ollie: “Are you kidding, lady? Have you seen the….. wheeeeeze…. SIZE of my head, neck…. wheeeeeeeze…. and butt? Wheeeeeze.”
Me: “Yes, and YOU ARE GOING TO CANTER.”
Ollie: “You’re still…. wheeeeeze…. posting. You don’t….wheeeeze…. mean it.”
Aw, shit. Note to self: stop posting when you want him to canter! IDIOT.
Then it was time to set Ollie up on a blind date with a ditch. He had never seen one before. I was told to walk him up on an approach, and then trot the last few steps. We started walking, Ollie locked in on it, and I said, “He’s trying to trot already!”
“Well then LET HIM!”
Duh, Wendy. So he just went right over that ditch like it was nothing. Didn’t speed, didn’t gun, just popped over it gently. We did it again from the other side, and he just gently loped away like a hunter again. Everyone else was jumping the corner and/or trakehner, and I sat there content, watching everyone else’s awesomeness. I was so pleased with Ollie and myself.
But then. A little devil came and sat on my shoulder. Or angel. I really don’t know which one.
Angel-Devil: “Pssst. Wendy. Hey. You see that trakehner over there? It just made fun of you.”
Me: “What? It did not. You crazy.”
Angel-Devil: “You gonna let it get away with that?”
Me: “Sure am. I’m happy with what we’ve done today.”
Angel-Devil: “Whatever, dude. I’d show him what’s what.”
It was time to wrap up, and the last person finished the trakehner. And the conversation went something like this:
Nicky: “Alright Wendy, you good? Unless you want to jump the trakehener….”
I think she heard the Angel-Devil’s conversation with me.
Me: “Welllllll….I think Ollie would do it…..”
OH MY GOD WE’RE GOING TO DO IT.
We headed to the skinny first to do that on the approach, and I heard this:
Nicky: “OK, now everyone make a big deal about them going over this. Wendy found her other ball!”
(someone): “Don’t you mean ovary?”
Sarah: “No, with Wendy, it’s balls.”
So we went over the skinny, landed in a canter, and I didn’t even have to steer. Ollie knew exactly where we were going, and he was so super happy about it. But still a gently loping hunter. My face on the approach was something like this:
But we did it.
AND, it was *my* best jump position of the day. Over the scary baby trakehner.
Ollie got a million pats, and I was so pleased with myself. And then I got to smile even more as Sarah and Phoenix jumped the giant-ass table and ROCKED THE SHIT OUT OF IT.
So overall: REDEMPTION. I am no longer feeling like a XC failure, and our collective confidence has grown tremendously the past few months. So much credit goes to the wonderful Nicky Buckingham and her program of Operation Un-Weenie Wendy.
Now, we have our first combined test this coming weekend. I am actually kind of regretting I didn’t do the tadpole three-phase instead – we did so many jumps this weekend that were well beyond tadpole size.
But this now gives us something to look forward to. For now, I’ll be adjusting to having that extra ball hanging around. Gotta get me some new pants.