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.
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|
Unfortunately my fear is easily transferable to a hot, emotional OTTB.
Not yesterday though.
|Oh hai eq! I love you!|
|Baby Trek=still looks like massive death trap|
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.
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"|
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 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.