Yesterday, I took advantage of the extra day off by getting myself a jump lesson. It was a gorgeous day! And good ol’ Olls must have been feeling good in that sunshine, as he pulled a stunt he hasn’t done in ages….. he cantered right on out of the arena.
I should have known it was coming. In our warm-up, Nicky had to gently remind me (repeatedly) not to yank and pull on the inside rein to get him to turn. I was reverting back to Bad Hunter Wendy ways, as I was feeling that slight shoulder pop pulling us out of the circle, and my inner bad rider panicked. Gotta stop doing that.
When we started jumping, we had to canter past the arena opening (there isn’t a real gate) that has a pathway leading back up to the barn. Another boarder, Laura, and her husband were headed from a pasture back up to the barn, and Ollie saw them. As we were about to go past the gate and head left, he decided to ignore me and canter right on out of the arena to “OMG LAURA! I LOVE YOU!” I could feel him laughing like a hyena and flipping me the bird as we exited stage left. The funniest part was, it was a lopey hunter canter, not a hand gallop or anything. He just simply wasn’t listening.
I let out an immediate “OH NO YOU DIDN’T!!” while pulling on him with all my might, but he didn’t stop until we were right in front of the barn, the cheeky bastard. After I composed myself with a turnaround and some walk steps, we trotted back into the ring, got the canter back, and immediately went to the jump WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE DONE, with a halt, do not pass go, do not collect 200 lbs of hay.
All the while, Nicky was in the corner laughing at Ollie’s antics. Because really – who can be mad at his goofy face? That horse has a sense of humor…he’ll never do anything intentionally dangerous, but he will laugh with you – or at you – every once in a while with his little games. Better to have them now than at the next show or outing.
Then it was back to business, and Ollie behaved perfectly the rest of the lesson. It was kind of like how cats have that crazy 2 a.m. freakout, and then immediately go back to being a lump. That was Ollie.
Rest of the lesson we focused a lot on me – trying to stop that stupid freaking knee-pinching and pendulum action, and OH MY GOD WENDY, HAVE A FREAKING PLAN WHEN YOU ARE RIDING A COURSE. I often forget to actually plan where I am turning, half-halting, re-balancing, etc., as it’s hard for me to think through the fear. I far too often aim for the lowest common denominator of survival and making all the jumps. Finally, I’m getting to a point where I should be starting to actually, you know…. think. Thinking is a big step for me.
But the best news of the lesson? All but one of the jumps I did that day besides my initial warm-up jump were NOVICE HEIGHT. I can feel the balls growing as we speak. And honestly? The jumps themselves didn’t scare me at all. It is more the turning and thinking part that worries me. Thinking is hard, yo. Maybe I’ll actually find my brain in time for Chattahoochee Hills in a few weeks.