The Balls…They Are A-Changin’

Recently, I resolved to boldly go where no weenie has gone before…. to enter an event at Beginner Novice. OK, maybe there have been plenty of weenies to show at that level. But not THIS weenie. So this weekend was my first jump lesson since that public declaration that I had lost my will to live. I walked to the ring with a combination of fear and hope. On the way there, Nicky was walking back to the barn for a moment.

“Your balls ready?”

Me: “I am warming them up right now….”

We started our lesson with some dressage-like flatting, in which I completely flubbed up a left-lead canter circle by leaning forward like a monkey and letting Ollie’s shoulder pop out and exit the circle. This happened about three times before Nicky popped my brain back in and my body back upright.

Then came time for a LARGE crossrail warm-up. There was to be no dicking around today with Certified Weenie™ trotting into a tiny crossrail for warmup. Today, it was full-on Big Girl Crossrail™ at the canter.


No biggie, and it was raised. Then it was put at a vertical. And then it was raised AGAIN. And AGAIN. Sweat beads were starting to form on my forehead despite the cold December chill. I still had that ounce of fear (or maybe half a pound…)  in my gut, as I was pinching with those knees so tight that my leg became a well-functioning pendulum. You could have made a grandfather clock out of me.

Why must I abuse my knees? But look at the square-ish back legs on that beast!
Why must I abuse my knees? But look at the square-ish back legs on that beast!

I was told to fix this, so I tried talking to myself as I approached the first jump.

“Jell-O knees….Jell-O knees…Jell-O knees…. goddamn Jell-O knees.”

Soon, I was told after one that the jump I just did was Novice height.

Me: “Nuh UH! It doesn’t even look that high….”

WHICH WAS THE WRONG THING TO SAY. OH MY GOD, WENDY, LEARN TO SHUT UP DURING LESSONS. I need to learn to remain mute. My big mouth gets me in trouble all the time.

Stupid Talking Wendy: “Oh my stirrups actually feel short now in this dressage saddle.”
Result: stirrups go down a hole!

Stupid Talking Wendy: “I think Ollie will do that trakehner.”

Stupid Talking Wendy: “I think we’re ready for a dressage show.”

Stupid Talking Wendy In My Lesson This Weekend: That doesn’t look so high.”
Result: JESUS H. Christ, we jumped about three feet!

Holy cow. And the funny thing was…. Ollie was SO happy to be jumping higher that he did not take down a single rail for the entire lesson. And he only actually touched a rail one time, which was my fault for not getting enough propulsion. I also need to learn to help him more with that jump takeoff, apparently. He’s SUCH a good boy that he will try no matter what, but LazyPants needs to be reminded to actually put in more effort.

And ScaredyPants me needs to remember to:

1.) SIT UP.
2.) KEEP riding after the jump and not become paralyzed, letting Ollie go wherever he thinks he should (SORRY, NICKY!)
3.) Not give up on a turn. Make it happen.
4.) Keep those balls warm.
5.) to…Christ on a cracker, stop with the knee-pinching and leg-swinging.
6.) NOT LET OLLIE BE MOLASSES. Insist on a better pace.
7.) Remember that I can do this. And Ollie can too!

He was such a happy try-er during the lesson. He really was. And I was really trying hard to be better too. But I apparently was not doing everything I was told…

Nicky: “You know, you make it harder on yourself when you DON’T do what I say!”

Me: “I know….it’s just so hard to, you know…. think through the OH MY GOD, FEAR!!”

But we decided that I did indeed WANT to be pushed. I did kind of want to be done at one point, because of that nagging Fear trying to be friends with me and have a sleepover. Fear is such a bitch. So I asked, “We about good here…..hour’s up right?  HEH.” By this point, I had attracted a crowd to share in my misery and pain. Besides Nicky teaching me, of course, there was Hattie, her working student and my best bitch Sarah had been there most of the time. And now Nicky’s husband Joe was watching from the gate. I suddenly felt that doom was impending.

I was told it was not time to go, and I had to do some more rounds of a mini four-jump course. I lamented the presence of an audience, but I did it. Sarah nicely took a short video (and no, Ollie does not have lead changes yet…)

And look at this still from the video:

More square back legs and even knees from Ollie, and more pinchy pinch pinch from me!
More square back legs and even knees from Ollie, and more pinchy pinch pinch from me!

George Morris would still be appalled by my riding, but this was major progress for me. And Ollie- square knees! Square back legs!

We’re making some great strides (har har) toward me not being such a freaking weenie. When I rode yesterday and looked over at the jump arena, those same jumps didn’t look quite as intimidating. Hopefully, that will continue to be the case. Gotta keep those balls warm!