|Suited up for the big drive|
We're back. Cuna was super--loaded and hauled like the pro he is, and was just plain awesome to be around. We rolled in to Ogden, UT around 4pm and by 6, we were out hacking on the cross country course. In order to get there, we had to ride down the race track. I was a little worried that a certain Mr Racehorse might have some memories to work through, but he just marched along.
The other horses had a good look around and were a bit silly. Cuna was the solid citizen that made everyone feel safer. I felt privileged to be on him at that point.
|Waiting for the jumps|
The next morning, he and I were set to ride in the first group at 8am. He obviously knew what was going on--he'd stop eating and stare at the track/course for several minutes at a time. No anxiety or nervousness, just calm mental preparation.
I wish I had felt half as good. I barely slept the night before, which is really weird for me. I didn't eat anything when I got up and I limited my water intake. I wanted to manage the amount of things I could be sick on. (Here's a link
to my last XC experience. If you're new to this blog, the gist of it is that I ended up with a broken arm and jaw and 6 weeks out of the tack.)
I did my best to stay away from Cuna while I did chores. I knew I was a nervous wreck and I didn't want that to unduly influence him. He was quiet and patient when I tacked him up, and stood nicely while I held him and another horse whose rider needed to step out for a minute.
I got on and he was quiet but attentive. He didn't understand why I was so ridiculously tense to go out for a ride, but he jigged appropriately to remind me that he was in tune with me. I tried to remember to keep breathing and loosen up, but my brain was not cooperating very well.
We warmed up on the grass, trotting and cantering around in big loops over the undulating terrain. I felt more comfortable out in the open and more secure in the saddle than last time I was out here. I felt relatively calm, but I knew I was tense. Mr Laid-Back himself was reminding me that I was very, very excited as he pranced a bit and tossed his head.
The first jump of the day was a tiny log, maybe 12" tall. As we trotted to it (slowly, so the horses wouldn't trip), I felt like throwing up. I wanted to get off, quit, do anything but go forward. Cuna stopped in front of the log and pranced in place. I knew that all I had to do was put my leg on and he could have stepped over it.
I sat there, legs hanging useless.
We circled around, came again, and he went while I put my leg on and kept my hands in his neck. I barely even felt the log--it was so small that it really wasn't any effort for him to go over. We kept circling back over it and I finally started to feel a little more at ease. Then Steph asked if I wanted to jump the BN log laying next to it.
It might as well have been the great wall of china. I froze up just looking at it. I couldn't just dig down and grit it out to go over that--it was everything I could do to convince myself I wasn't going to die over the tiny baby log.
|Boss pony. Does it all.|
The lesson progressed in kind. Cuna did exactly what I told him to, which thankfully, did not involve any more stopping. We made it over a ditch, up and down a bank (terrain questions don't bother me. Not sure why jumps make me want to die), through the water, down a different bank, and over another log. We put a little course together. I got to pick the jumps, so we did tiny log to tiny log, over the ditch, up the bank, down the bank.
My goal for the day was to not go to the ER, which I achieved. I also stayed on, which was sort of a secondary goal that I was willing to part with as long as I made the first one.
Beyond that? I am really not happy with how I rode. I hate that I went out there and froze. I hate that I was too scared to push myself. I hate that I wasn't willing to try something more. Yeah, it's my first time back, but Cuna and I have done way harder, cooler things in an arena every day of the week. This is different, but not that different. He was fine for the whole thing. I froze and could hardly keep myself together.
I'm telling myself that it was a "non negative" experience and next time might be better. I mean, at least it will never be my first ride back after a wreck on Izzy again. I'm frustrated with how much crap I still have to work through. I'm annoyed with myself for not just loosening up and having a good time.
|Give this pony carrots.|
At the end of the day though, I'm still thrilled with Cuna. He was such a trooper. There were racehorses working on the track, a train going by, a green horse freaking out and wanting to be with him, and the old man just took good care of me. He made me ride every jump, but he didn't do anything dirty or naughty. He didn't scare me--I just didn't realize how hard it would be to come back.
Going forward, I have no idea what to do with myself. The whole point of selling Izzy was to try and have fun again. This weekend wasn't really what I'd call fun. Maybe it will get better.
I'm not going down without a (continued) fight. Cuna and I are jumping 4-5 days a week from here on out. Not to worry--it will be over tiny little insignificant things that won't stress him at all. I am going to learn to trust him, keep my leg on, ride forward, and give him the reins. I'm going to focus on the backside of the jump and what to do on the landing. Whatever happens, I am not going to pull back on him for the rest of the month. All motion is forward.
We're supposed to go to a local derby at the end of the month. I entered BN, but I think I'll drop down to the 2'3". Maybe I'll try to get in to one of the clinic days and just see how it goes after two weeks of trust boot camp. I don't know exactly what to do, but I know I don't want to stay where I'm at.
PS For those concerned, there is video evidence of me jumping a giant red gelding over teeny tiny logs. I will post it as soon as I get it.