Friday, September 28, 2012

Introducing Otie!

Life is full of oddities.

Like why we park in a driveway but drive on a parkway, or why we buy a pair of panties, or why we turn the radio volume down when we’re looking for an address.

And why we buy the horse that fell on us.

Don’t adjust the TV, you heard me correctly. I bought . . . the horse . . . that fell on me.

#1 – It was not his fault (as previously described)

#2 – It kind of bonds us together, doesn’t it?

#3 – Wait till you see the video

He was bred by my BO/BFF and her longtime dear BFF to be dear BFF’s next dressage horse. He was born, he grew, got backed (and very well, whoever did that) and then he was left to grow some more.

Through a very strange turn of events - a death, an executor of the estate, a girl in love (me), and lots of phone calls I bought this lovely animal. He does have a condition that may or not be an issue in the future, but it was a leap of faith I was willing to take.

He’s got about 3 months of formal education now and learning every day. Even though he’s 6, it’s like seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler every time I’m on him. “Mom! Mom! What’s that? Mom! What’re we doing now?” “Mom! I gotta PEE!!!”

Remember that kid in school that raised his hand all the time? You’d think “put your hand down, you don’t even know the answer”. But he just wanted to try.

Otie is that kid.

He’s 17 hands of try. 17 hands of “I have no idea how big I am”. 17 hands of “Sorry I lost my balance. Again”

17 hands of all mine.

I’m taking his education really slowly, letting him grow building blocks in his mind. To ruin this beautiful creature with a rush to centerline would be a travesty.

I don’t know how far we’ll go, but if we make it to the top I promise to take you all with me.

 (forgive the video job. It was my first attempt at iMovie)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beat the Confidence Monster But Took a Stupid Pill

What was I thinking? Seriously.

What on God's Green Earth was going through my head when I set out on XC in the North Carolina heat slash humidity with bare hands? I've done plenty of stupid things in my life (trust me, plenty) but that ranks right on up there.  No gloves? Honestly, Jennifer (as my dearly departed mom used to say).

I started to realize I was an ignoramus in warm-up. By the time I reached the 3rd fence I was chasing greased piglets through my fingers, by the 5th fence they were buttered noodles. Coby is a very strong horse XC and I have to have a constant feel of the bit to come to an agreement, kind of like letting steam through a pressure cooker. Each time I chased the wet herrings in my hands he took off like a rocket.

But, as they say, it is what one does when things aren't going well that defines you; and if trying times build character then I built one hell of a lot of it on September 8, 2012. For example:

My dressage trainer says that the 20 meter circle benefits everyone, so I maybe did a few on course (just to make her proud. Ahem.). I did think about pulling up when I was struggling so much with the reins but the circles got him back (though only nearly after he locked onto this Intermediate table) and I'm just so damned stubborn. In hindsight should I have pulled up? Probably. But I lived with my decision and tried to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Ended up with a heaping pile of time faults and a very questionable stop at the drop into the water.

Experience is what you get 10 minutes after you needed it.

However, redemption on day 2:

I took the liberty of calculating that every rider in my division could knock down every rail and I would still be dead last. Sigh. Worst part is we were in 2nd place after dressage. Life's lessons have to be swallowed with a large slice of humility pie.

Mmmm, delicious.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Battling the Confidence Monster

I loath him.

I despise him.

He’s an evil, sneaky, beady-eyed beast that lives in every nook and cranny of your mind.  He’s 50, 100 years old. He makes the villagers pick up pitchforks and torches and march the square stomping and yelling; “Burn him!” “Tear him from limb to limb!” “Run him to the woods!”

He’s patient. He’s persistent. He sits and waits for the perfect chance to rattle your brain with thoughts of fear and doubt. He listens for you to fall asleep the night before a show and then whispers boo in your ear. Not loud, not even loud enough for anyone else to hear, just barely loud enough to wake you up and question your sanity . . . again.

He hides behind the Swedish oxer and under the Trakhener. He lays flat in the bottom of the beginner novice ditch. In fact, legend says every time a rider stares into a ditch he grows another horn.  He lifts the Novice coop just a wee bit higher, and the Prelim drop just a tad steeper. No level or course is safe from this gremlin. He feeds off the self-doubt that comes after a fall or a refusal (but falls are his favorite).

This weekend I will battle that monster.

I will arm myself with the pure thoughts of success and completion, and put the memories of my fall behind me. I will defend against his attacks with confidence and zest and really, really, really good coaching. I will, perhaps, take a swill of grog on the battlefield. 

And when he calls, I will say “Sorry, I believe you have the wrong number”.

And that will make me smile.

All dressed up and no place to go.