Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Stupid Should Hurt

This post is dedicated to those of you who I teach who don't believe me when I tell you I understand how you feel when things go disaterously wrong... Read on :) And to anybody else who can read this, laugh (*with* me that is :) and say "I've been there." Enjoy!

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So today was Sienna's first outing.

Short version: the good (if you stretch your imagination - creative writing at its finest!), the bad and the ugly -- all occurred on one day!

Long version (you've been warned):

It's been stunningly gorgeous for weeks, so of course they were forecasting rain and snow for show day. Sheesh.

Friday I have a lesson. I get told about the walk - "Nothing less than an 8 on the free-walk is acceptable" which pretty much had me rolling my eyes since I've seen an 8 walk from my horse exactly once -- and that was on a solo hack on the way home. hahaha but then I discovered my coach was serious (imagine that :) and sobered up appropriately *g* Jumping was great but minimal "want to save her for tomorrow." ummmmm no, my whole plan with a lesson the day before was to tire her out so she'd be potentially ridable at the show. But ok...

Fri aft I find out they're running XC too. Woohoo! Get in touch w/ Bob (who owns GV with his wife Sarah) to get myself on the last-minute addition list :) hahaha N being super-kewl, he agreed to that. So now very excited.

Nicole, amazing supergroom, agreed to take a day "study break" during exams and come help -- being all dedicated she did, in fact, bring study material with her. For the kinds of courses that have "right" answers. Where's the fun in that? hahaha -- anyways, she met me at the barn after her 9:00 exam ended last night and crashed at my place so we could go early in the am.

We had the most amazing times ever, didn't have to be in dressage till 10:45. Work back with me - 10:45 ride time, on by 9:30 (seem excessive? Yeah, you haven't met my horse), at farm by 9, leave at 7, at barn by 6:30, leave house @ 6 -- which means getting up at pretty well exactly the same time I do every day. Much better than three am though :)

Now, you have to understand, I've driven the route to GV/GO/WW probably about 75 times over the last 10 years, and my navigational abilities are generally pretty impressive -- yet somehow I managed to miss the 400?!?! How does one do that? Seriously. And coming home I managed to miss the turn that takes you back to 11. The turn I've made so many times I can (and have!) done it in my sleep! Even asked N, in all the years she's been driving places with me, have I ever missed a turn? Nope... But today I did it twice, and *almost* a third time. Not quite sure which little part of my brain I forgot to pack today, but really need to relocate it. Very soon. Preferably before I try to ride again.

Get to the farm -- only disadvantage to a civilized ride time is everybody else is already there. Means I have to back the trailer in, and to a specific space off a turn. Yikes. But I did it -- and it only took a couple tries *g* N's comment while I was attempting this was "nobody's judging you . . . yet!" hahaha well it amused me anyways :)

So pony comes off trailer a little high, but not bad. It's snowing so we add an extra blanket before I head off to the secretary. All organized and ready to go we tack up and head down to dressage. Or try to anyways. There was lots of scary stuff along the way. Only *almost* trampled two pedestrians -- fortunately for me they were of the horse-people variety and could see very well what was going to happen and got out of the way :)

In the warmup Si was a *little* high. And then I finally got her settled and somebody else came in with a very squeaky saddle. Well horses are *not* supposed to squeak! Had quite the meltdown about that. Never really did get over it, but the other rider showsheened her saddle so it wouldn't squeak :) hahaha It lasted for her till about 3/4 of the way through her test -- *almost* long enough. As for Sienna, after about an hour (no exaggeration there) she finally chilled enough to work. Did really well. Till we went over to the actual ring. And couldn't even make it around the outside.

The judge was amazingly patient. Took one look, assessed the situation and told me to take my time. I don't know if the person before me got a small novel on her test or not, but it's entirely possible. Asked me if it was her first show, no but close to and first one of the year. When we finally made it all the way to the booth she told me she'd ring the bell when I got around the corner "so don't fall off" hahaha. All good.

We put in a nightmare of a test. Entirely ADD. Incorrect bend (or pretzel bend) throughout pretty much the entire thing. Accuracy? Yeah we weren't even pretending we could do that. On the bit? hahaha to steal an image - does Giraffe on crack mean anything to you? (If not, you *really* have to go read the $700 Pony :) We did stay in the ring, in roughly the right gait, riding something that vaguely resembeled the instructions on the test. But the whole soft, supple, attentive idea? Yeah not so much. We almost made step one on the dr scale - rhythm was almost acceptable. Suppleness? hahahahahahaahahaha

It was not my worst test ever (Parker will hopefully forever hold that title!) but it's entirely possible it counts for second. Went back to the warmup ring after to relocate her little mind again and then once we got one decent transition hopped off and left it at that. Quit while you're ahead -- even if it's only by a baby-step.

So take pony back and untack her, convince Nicole to find another layer of clothing (it was *not* good standing around weather!) and then leave Sienna in N's amazing care and go to walk XC and stad. Both of which look amazing. XC had some of everything (bank, baby-ditch, water, steps) - fun fun fun. N stad was fair, very inviting, nice big turns and of course perfect footing (love the spring shows there :).

Knowing that we'll be starting all over again in the stad w/u, I tacked up early. N for the first half of the w/u we were ummmm bouncing. Cause of course everybody is cantering and jumping (T level @ that) and this is way too much for my little tracky. Now when she loses her little mind, the fastest way for me to get it back is lots of little turns, bending, serpentines, changing directions, etc. This is not possible in a jump w/u ring because these turns would put you directly in the way of other riders jumping. So the first part of the w/u was brilliance or disaster -- going away from home was quiet, round and lovely; going towards home was on speed. But then I got lucky in that there was quite the break between T and PT, where I had the ring to myself for a while. Got superpony jumping then when all was quiet and had her chilled before other horses arrived. Got some *serious* air time our first few times over the vert, which then made it harder cause it scared her which made her launch even higher the next time. *sigh* but eventually she chilled a little and started jumping it reasonably. Had a bit of trouble the 2nd or 3rd time we tried the oxer - landed on it, demolishing it and sending poles everywhere. Very kind person reset the fence for us and the next time she was not having anything to do w/ it. Uh uh, that was SCARY. Third try, one stride out she hesitates. Mr crop outweighs hesitation. Cleared it by a foot high and about two wide - to applause from random people watching this. Next couple attemps she jumped properly.

So in we go. She's looking at things, but not bad. First fence, beautiful. Textbook perfect. Landed and scooted a little, but came back to me. 2nd fence also beautiful and landing properly this time (and lots of people were having trouble getting to this one properly). Hesitated a little at three but took it in stride. But fence 4... Oh fence four. We got there bang on stride. But somewhere in her being so incredibly ridable and so good, I forgot that I can count the number of stadium rounds she's ever seen on one hand. Well it was a looky gate, of the type she's never seen, and I didn't ride it. And I knew better. And never even clued in. And as a result, I wasn't as defensive as I should've been. And when she propped instead being back and in position for a tap or a cluck, I ended up forward in position for her to spin out under me. I ended up on her neck -- and for a few strides I thought I might salvage it. Held the neck-riding thing a rediculously long time (at the canter might I add!) until she had enough of her rider's insanity and tossed her head - putting me that much higher in the air before landing on my back on the ground. Could literally hear the crowd's reaction to that. Ugh. Left the ring, remounted, waved the paramedic off (in that order -- they argue less once you're already on the horse) and jumped a few more w/u fences, which was kinda pointless as she was entirely apathetic about those by that point. Dismounted after a good fence and realized that I perhaps don't bounce as well as I used to. Was starting to feel really sore and, given our less than brill performance so far, decided to scrap XC. Sometimes you have to know when to stop.

Chatting with people afterwards -- apparently there were wagers being made on whether I'd stick it or not. hahaha classic. Go into the office to pick up my dressage test (more for posterity's sake than anything) and Bob (who coaches me XC whenever I can possibly arrange it :) was there. He looks at me, "What happened?" Frig. I didn't even bother to explain. "Can we come school next weekend?" "I think you'd better." hahahaha Apparently he didn't actually see it, just heard about it later. That's prob for the best >;-P

So for a laugh I looked at the dressage test on my way back to the trailer. Mostly 5s and 6s (like I said, the judge was super-kind) and the comments ignored all the obvious serious flaws and focused mostly on the incorrect bend/right head tilt issue -- which she mentioned to me after the test (I like it when the tests end @ G cause you get more of a chance to chat with the judge :). Fortunately I know about these already and I know they pretty well go away when I locate the brain (she tips her head right and the brain falls out the left ear. Putting the brain back in, straightens her out). And then I got to the mark for the free walk. Remember waaaayyyy back at the beginning of this post a few hours ago? Yup, we did it. An 8. hahahahaha Oh comeon - we had to do *something* right!

So let's see down sides:
- it was snowing
- horrendous flat test (we're not even going to pretend that was dressage)
- ate some dirt, and worse - deserved it
- never ended up going xc

up sides:
- lost Sienna's brain THREE times (how is that up? Stay with me here) AND managed to relocate it each time.
- survived two warmup rings
- Nicole learned all sorts of new skills involving navigating the world with giant mitts on - unwrapping Banana bread and working the camera were two of the more impressive
- had fun socializing with all sorts of people I don't get to see nearly often enough and learned little bits more about some of those I know only vaguely
- discovered what we need to work on (and the list should keep us entertained for quite a while!)
- Superpony eventually chilled out and got to deal with all sorts of strange and unusual things in w/u under semi-controllable conditions
- met the only goal I actually agreed to (hmmmm might want to raise the bar a little next time :)
- when I was riding, I was riding really well(next time though I think I'll *keep* riding till I intentionally dismount!)
- the sun came out (thanks N!)
- looking forward to schooling next weekend.

And this is how a technically horrendous show can still leave me smiling at the end of the day.

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