Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting My Balls Back

Deciding what to blog about was really difficult. For once, I actually have blogposts for days and deciding on one was not easy. I had a ridiculously busy weekend, so before my high wears off from XC schooling, I shall share, and the other topics will have to wait for now.

The last time I went XC schooling was ages ago. Last spring I think. It was always an ass pain to school XC in Missouri because the opportunities were limited, cost a pretty penny and were far away. It also was the most important because I don't think Yankee and I ever got a clean XC at Training level. Main reason we have yet to move up to Prelim. He either spooks at spectators or we have time faults. Because we NEVER practice it! I was SO spoiled here in Ohio because Twin Towers Park is like 20 minutes from my house and is free to use. FREE.

Literally, one the only thing I missed most about Ohio, while living in MO. TTP almost makes up for the shittiness of Ohio in general.

So, to say I was ecstatic about going this past Sunday is a major understatement. SCHOOLING SUNDAY BITCHES OOO KILLEM.

 To be honest, I was scared out of my mind. I've spent the last 2 years denying I have a problem. And we all know the first step to fixing it is accepting it.

I spent my entire life completely, 100%, stupidly fearless. Spirit didn't help considering he jumped anything you pointed him at. Refusals? What are this. Safety? Is that a thing? #zerofucks

Falling off at sanctioned show on a horse who had never refused once, or ever had issues jumping, will fuck your brain up though. Permanently.

Didn't know my pic was being taken, but obviously deep in thought and worried
I always thought to be scared was weakness. Maybe it is. But I also savor life and really don't want to die  jumping. My older self now realizes that falling off CAN happen and it HURTS and you COULD die. Thus, my issues with jumping were born. Aimee had a very good post early this month on fear. It summed it up perfectly. You can't describe why to anyone. It just is.

Unfortunately my fear is easily transferable to a hot, emotional OTTB.

Not yesterday though.

Oh hai eq! I love you!
 Yankee was ON his game and unstoppable. Literally. He was slightly brain dead when it came to half halts, but he jumped every single thing I pointed him at the first time, without hesitation.

Baby Trek=still looks like massive death trap
We warmed up briefly over BN fences, and he was basically ripping my arms out in excitement and anticipation. I was just happy to be jumping again and feel all his positive energy towards jumping. But I was terrified.

And I was scared I was scared. I had NEVER been that nervous on a horse in my life. But all my thoughts about failure, fear of falling, and sliding into jumps came rushing back. I almost felt paralyzed and it freaked me out more than the thought of jumping a training level height fence.

I told myself to snap out of it and grow some balls. Yankee was more than game for anything and I had jumped every fence on the park hundreds of times without fear or getting hurt.

So I did the dumbest thing you could possibly do when petrified.

I pointed Yankee at a Prelim jump and closed my eyes.

Didn't die.

In fact that's my favorite picture of the day. Yankee carried me, ignored my anxiety and looked FAF doing it. Seriously, what a guy.

I won't say I was "cured", my fear still lived in my belly all day. But Yankee was so game for everything that I was able to push it aside and ride my horse to each and every fence.  It was mildly liberating.

My happiest moment was our ability to stay relatively put together through a pretty big and complex coffin. Not only did it seem massive and SOLID, but it was on a bending line. Course designers, I swear.

"Shit, what am I doing and why?"
Trying to prep for that bending line
"Oh god, dying"
 Sort of what it looked like, haha. Those rail fences were very...upright....and that ditch was huge in my eyes. But we nailed it first time through.

Yankee. Such Majesty. Such awesome. Very horse.

I knew it was probably pretty stupid to be jumping things that scared me shitless, but my logic was that Yankee could attack anything I pointed him at and it was only giving me confidence. Right?

Really though, I lost my damn mind when I saw the biggest jump on the course and was like, "why not?" Yankee was aching to jump it (literally, everytime we got near it he would get all prancy and try and rush it like a linebacker) so I gulped down my nerves and pointed him at it.

Chanting my mantra, "eyes up, heels down, shoulders back", Yanks sailed over it without a second glance.

I almost peed a little. Why does he carry me over shit like this? #beastmode

 The feeling after not dying and effortlessly flying over possibly the biggest fence I've ever jumped with Yankee, is hard to explain.

I don't know if I'm just stupid, or deep down actually brave. But either way I feel like I gained a shred of confidence back. I was also proud of myself for keeping my shit together over fences. My eq didn't suffer greatly in my time off and I'm happy with that. Solid schooling day.

I doubt I would be able to do this in competition for a while yet, but just knowing my horse is game for it still is a massive reassurance.

I don't usually brag intentionally. In fact I try to avoid it because I find it egotistical. I share experiences, but I rarely say "Yeah, Yankee is basically the shit and I know it" but after yesterday I can't help it. HE IS AWESOME. Not only  does he have the ability to scale shit like that ramp, but he has the drive, heart, attitude and beauty that goes along with a champion. I loved Spirit, and cherished my time with that ponybeast, but I've never had a connection with an organic being like I do with Yankee. Its like our brains are connected. Where one of us is weak, the other makes up for it and carries the other through. We have each others backs, always and nothing can break that, or top it. I wish we had had more opportunity to exhibit his talent in sanctioned events, but just knowing I own one of the most badass horses I've ever come across is pretty cool. And I trained him. Me. It may have taken 8 years, but I can now hop on him ANYWHERE and he is cool as a cucumber. Flying changes. Lateral work. 5ft stadium fences. Combinations. Trails. Cross Country. Galloping. Flawless transitions. Willingness. Trust. Love.  Maybe he wasn't meant to win events, or show, but to be that horse of a lifetime for me. I hope each and every one of you have or get the chance to own a horse that makes such an impact in your life like Yankee does for me.


  1. This is outstanding. Yankee is outstanding. What a horse.

  2. Yay, balls! I know what you mean... I grew up totally fearless and while I'm def not a scaredy cat now, I'm not nearly as ballsy as I used to be. I guess you could say my balls have shrunk?

  3. Uh ya I would be over the moon if we had talents like that!! SO awesome. I will be over the moon if Laz ever jumps a stick, so wtf this is crazy cool. How great is that xc course so close to you? I would never move! Even riding the flat would be so fun over there!! (says chicken little and her horse chicken lame wing little)

  4. Um, those jumps look huge so I consider you brave and a badass!!

  5. I feel you on fear. Some days just the sight of a crossrail reduces me to a melting puddle of nerves and I have NO idea why. I never used to be like that!

  6. Dude, that is AWESOME.
    (Next pony project: try our local baby XC jumps in the dressage saddle.)
    Also: hooray for more confidence!!

  7. Yankee is superb - loved this post.

    Also superb - the thoughtful picture, just gorgeous. The prelim jump picture you two are jumping out of... must. be. framed.


    You're absolutely on track. Replace those bad experiences with good ones and really soak in all the emotions. :-) With a horse like that, it gets better.

  9. TOTAL MFBA! (mother f-ing bad a$$)

  10. Bomb... Fucking bomb. You guys are amazing. For the longest time I thought fear and being scared was me being weak, but it was this fear that caused me to be determined to get shit done and look at B and me now! No... We're not where you guys are, but hey, I'm on my horse. You guys are AMAAAAZZINNGG!! Keep it up!

    1. I just realized I typed "You guys are amazing" twice... But it's the truth.

  11. Agree with everything in this post. And I don't see why you shouldn't brag about how awesome he is! You guys look fucking amazing in those pictures. This fear thing that develops as an adult is complete bullshit, but I guess we are stuck with it.

  12. I don't see it as bragging, you are just proud of him. For what it's worth, I think you're super brave. It doesn't matter if it scared you to jump those, you still did it. Doing what you're nervous to takes a ton of balls. And yes, Yankee is spectacular!!! You can brag on him all you want :)

  13. Awesome. You two. Are. Awesome.

  14. There is nothing wrong with bragging on behalf of your horse! I much prefer that than riders who think they are all that lol

    Glad you go to go out and have a safe fun outing. Step by step you'll get your confidence back!

  15. You two are badass. For real, I would die facing those jumps down!

  16. Awesome!!! Wow those jumps are ginormous and you both look rock solid =) So glad it went well!!

  17. Woman! Glad y'all had a great time and Yankee looks great. But for cod's sake, PUT A VEST ON! Actually, there are no places in this area where you would be permitted to school without one. It dramatically reduces your aforementioned chances of dying while jumping XC things! Or any things. Safety nazi - out!

    1. I know I know, I'm horrible :( BUT in my defense mine was stolen in May and I don't have the $300 to fork over to replace it as I am inbetween jobs and my parents are paying for everything. I plan on getting a new one this Christmas but I know!
      TT has zero regulations still, as far as I know. When I used it 5 years ago there were zero rules and it was free. Since its still free to school, no one is ever there, there are no set schooling days and no one ever checks up on you. Its a free for all basically.
      I felt a little naked schooling naked though!

    2. Awwe, that SUX, I hate gear stealers!! Glad to hear there is hopefully a replacement coming; I totally get the budget thing. Free schooling is awesome, but not if there is impact, ouchy!

      Just a thought, but if you need an interim, my first vest, which I loved, I found used on Ebay for $45, a nice solid foam one. Even borrowing is worth it -- my first "field test" of my current vest was a completely unexpected sudden Solo stop (naturally in front of a 4* rider, sigh) which cartwheeled me over his head and I went splat on my back HARD on top of a solid wooden steeplechase jump. Then I slid off and landed on the packed SC ground...on my head! I sat up and thought, wow, that didn't hurt at all! Haha, I know I'm telling you what you already know, but just being the annoying voice from a decade older than you, ROFL!

      How are you supposed to entertain me if you go splat??? ;P

  18. I LOVE this post!!! The comments too. It makes me feel better that other people are dealing with fear too. I hate it, but I've accepted it. There's no way I could go out there and do that. I'm impressed. Also, brag on Yankee all you want. He's amazing! It makes me so happy to read about other people are are proud of their horses, love them and appreciate them. I don't really feel like it's bragging. :)

    P.S. I LOVE that picture of Yankee's haunches going over the fence with Levi in the background. So great!