|We are not thinking about it.|
From then on out, I didn't think about it. Intentionally. My thought process was this:
1) Your subconscious completely wigs out about this whole shebang.
2) What your subconscious doesn't know most likely won't hurt it.
As such, I didn't mentally prepare, didn't watch XC videos, didn't visualize anything, and didn't talk about it much. Even on the drive over, I chatted about absolutely everything except riding horses. My sole concession to my subconscious was to switch Cuna's bit from his full cheek happy mouth mullen to an eggbutt Dr Bristol.
We tacked up. The other ladies were taking forever, since apparently their job has never entailed riding 4 horses in three hours while feeding, doing turnout, and cleaning tack. I took Cuna away from the group, hopped on, and started hacking around. I hadn't ridden at this facility since the accident with Izzy. I have gorgeous photos of us there and vivid memories of how it felt. Every time we came around a turn, I could just picture Izzy and I.
And I put it out of my head. I read an article by a prominent female showjumper (Beezie maybe?) who said that's how she deals with coming back from accidents. It sounds kooky, but I had to do something. I focused on warming Cuna up. Not Izzy. Not me. We walked all around, trotted and worked on moving off my legs, and cantered, focusing on going forward and back and doing lots of transitions. I wanted him balanced and adjustable.
Stephanie asked if there was anything out in the field I wanted to jump.
"YES. That teeny, tiny little log way over by the fence. It looks ok."
|Us on course.|
Cuna trotted over the jump and cantered away without so much as a peek. Excellent. I didn't go back to Steph for instruction, but just kept trotting back and forth over the tiny log. "I can do this," I thought. "I can do this all night and be happy."
Then she called us back. New pattern: trot over tiny log. Turn right, CANTER OVER GINORMOUS LOG PILE. Make a right hand turn, canter up the hill over pretty intimidating coop.
Ok, the log pile was 2' tall. In my defense, it was also the jump Izzy and I wrecked at last year about this time. I was thankful for the coop--it gave me something else to completely stress about.
Off we went. The first jump was pretty easy. I kept my eyes up and we trotted the tiny log. Then we came around for the GLP. I thought I would die, but I kept my eyes up and legs steady while grabbing everything I could hold on to that was not Cuna's face, and he hopped over it like nothing. We came around for the coop and I finally started to settle a bit. Cuna was in a nice, forward rhythm. I could see a comfortable close spot. I counted the last few strides and he popped right over it.
|Ginormous log pile #2 as demoed by Rinsie|
"Cuna can do that," I told her. "I can't do that." We circled around and came again. The closer we got, the bigger that jump looked. I swear it was rolex sized by the time we got to the base. Again, I had mane in one hand, breastcollar in the other, and kept my legs steady. Cuna hauled my butt over the fence. Good boy!
|Scary barrels as demoed by Rinsie|
We came towards the barrels. I got him down to a collected canter before Steph yelled, "Kick him." I did, and over we went. Nicely. Safely. Happily.
Then it was off to the track to do pacework. (Thank you Katie for setting the flags. They were great.) My lesson buddy went first. I watched them slowly canter around and come in just 10 seconds over and realized that 350 mpm was going to be painfully boring. As predicted, Cuna and I came in at 55 and 57 seconds (goal of 60 seconds) and we were barely moving. Cuna actually had two of the biggest spooks I've ever seen from him--one because a giant cow was hiding behind a bush, the other because who knows why but we got a perfect lead change out of it.
My buddy went too slow both times, so she was sent back to go a lot faster. I whined a little, and got to take a turn going more hastily.
Cuna and I walked onto the track. I put him into the canter, and just let him roll forward. We hit the nice novice pace and sped up in about a stride. His stride got longer. As he and I found our balance together. I stayed poised above him, steady without resisting. Each quarter of the track, he picked up just a little more steam. As we flew around our final corner, I realized that I hadn't really tested the brakes and he had no particular plan to stop. I tried a half halt and got nothing. Right. We are galloping. I need to change his balance...
|Ready to head for home|