Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Welcome to the New Age

Ben's always been a bit of a mixed bag for me.  On the one hand, I love riding him and I always have a big, dopy grin on my face when I'm jumping him.  At the same time, he scared the crap out of me on cross country and we've had a very rough start in that phase.  He's a cuddly puppy dog, but what a Meathead!

Today he won my long term loyalty.  With my move up to Training looming, I begged my trainer to include me on a cross country schooling outing today.  I was petrified at the idea of going out and trying to get around at Training without at least one more attempt at getting the two of us on the same page.  She agreed, and I showed up at the barn today to load up the gear and my Meathead.

Small catch.  It wasn't a schooling trip, it was a schooling show.  I was going to be going around at Training.  HURK.

I was beside myself walking the course.  I love Scarlett Hill, the courses are always gorgeous with lots of room for galloping, but they don't tend to pull punches on cross country.  These bad boys were to height and there were a lot of firsts for me.  A ditch combination (jump the ditch at an angle, three strides, ramp), a corner, a trakhaner, a skinny, a maxed out table and a beefy parallel oxer, a water combination (drop into water, three/four strides, jump out over a bank), and all at 400 mpm.  HURK.

I gibbered.  I fidgeted.  I fretted.  I pleaded with my trainer to let me move back down or to skip some of the fences (like the holy hell FML trakhaner).  I sang ditties through out my entire warm up just so I would keep breathing.  I was belting out Henry the Eighth while I circled the start box.  My trainer just shook her head and told me to just get out there and have fun.  I was on Ben, after all!  HURK.

Fun?  a;ldskf;akjdf  I was ready to have a heart attack and fall out of the saddle, especially when we had to wait for the rider in front of me to get tossed back on her horse after they had a parting of the ways.

I came out of the start box and attacked the course like I'd been instructed to.  I left my spurs behind so I could kick without reservation.  Holy crap, we found our groove.  I let him do his job, he let me pick the fences, and we marched around.  I even managed to get most of the way around without the fear muscle fatigue catching up to me.  It got me right around fence 15, the drop coming out of the woods.  I landed and felt rattled, so hauled Ben back.  He didn't like that.  Up next was the water combination and I was riding backwards to it.  I looked down, so Ben stopped to do a gator check.  I gave him a spank and he dropped in, jumped out, then threw a temper tantrum.

"First you look down, then you spank me?!  Nuh uh, little girl, you have lost your driving privileges!"

Thank goodness we only had one fence left, because the Meathead took off with me like a bat out of hell.  I got him over the last one, pulled him up after a serious fight, and gave him a big pat.  He accepted my apology and we moseyed back to the trailer like nothing happened.

On the way home, I treated myself to a butterscotch sundae.  I think I earned it.

So I guess this makes us ready for our great Training level debut next week, since I've now schooled all of the Training level questions.  And lived to tell the tale!  The trainer is all set on us making this final and not sneaking back down to Novice again this season.  And you know?  I think I'm okay with that.


  1. Glad that you had a positive experience. Sounds like Ben took good care of you.

  2. Catie,

    It is very exciting to read about how your partnership with Ben is cementing. It sounds like he really knows his job and you are starting to trust him and "go with the flow". I'm sure it is a tough adjustment when your other hors is such a different ride. Good luck at Training, I'm sure you'll do very well. When is your debut, next week at Scarlet Hill?

    btw, I gave Fiona some carrots yesterday. She is so much more polite about it than Ruby is.