And so Springs Event draws ever nearer and, to my relief, my nerves are starting to wobble. The Mutterer was right – you have to be nervous, you have to have that edge. Somehow I just have to find the balancing act between paralysing fear and helpful adrenalin.
Either way, Springs’ course map went out today and I nearly fainted; the drop was bad enough (I have hated drops since I knew what they were) and then there has to be a ditch in the equation as well. For what it’s worth, Arwen and I have never jumped a ditch in our lives. My strategy will be to kick on and hold tight and trust that gutsy little grey mare. Flagged water is also a first for us, but I’m pretty sure she’ll be fine. She likes the Springs water.
The other horses, however, have been keeping my mind off it thoroughly. Magic and Arwen both put in solid lessons with the Mutterer on Wednesday, despite my minor meltdown (confidence, people: it helps. Also patient trainers). The Storm Horse was his usual superb self; I also got to ride his son, whom I think we shall call the Thundercloud Horse because he’s about the right colour. Hopefully, if I get him ready in time, he shall go to the Spring Show with his daddy and Arwen Jnr. The Mutterer and I also had a couple of awesome outrides on some of the baby horses. Sometimes I think we must be totally insane to take out a pair of half-backed babies and teach them to canter in the hay fields, but it really is the most ridiculous fun even if they lose the plot every now and then. I picked a goofy Nooitgedachter/warmblood colt who turned out to have a mild inertia problem: once he’s stopped he doesn’t really get going, but once he’s going he doesn’t really get stopped. At least he plopped along in a straight line when I eventually got him to canter, while the Mutterer and his colt occasionally vanished into the trees amid crashes and mild profanity.
Thursday I took it easy; I knew I should probably ride at least Arwie, but I also knew that if I didn’t take some time off, I’d be stone dead by Sunday. I just rode the German Giraffe, who was superb, despite bucking spectacularly when I free lunged her first. (She has only ever bucked with me once, but she removed me effortlessly with that one buck).
Today was madness, but wonderful madness; I rode nine horses and they were all at least relatively good ranging to awesome. Arwen and I did some fast work and bounced up and down some banks in preparation for the dreaded drop. She was amazing – settled and sensible, but ever eager, alert, and lively. She reminded me that drops aren’t scary at all when her saddle fits, stupid little human. I was tremendously proud of her.
Vastrap had another jumping session, which he rocked; I kept the jumps little, but I think I can start putting them up again as we both seem to have recovered at least some of our courage. Trappies, actually, has all his courage – it’s me that’s the problem, as usual. The little grey pony refrained from bucking me off, which was nice. (He was actually extremely well behaved; I think as he is now he’d be okay on a lead rein with his little kid, it’s just cantering that’s the trouble. He’ll have his wolf teeth out on Tuesday and then we can hopefully sort that out).
It was windy and noisy, and I need a dress rehearsal for the next training show, so I dressed Magic up in his adorable earmuffs for his flatwork. It went fairly well; the dude still likes to throw his head around when he’s upset, but I think I might have cracked the code there. Yanking on him to discipline him only makes it worse, and releasing the pressure mid-tantrum only causes it to happen more frequently, so today I decided to just sit there and lock my elbows. This caused my hands to sit dead still; not pulling on him, but firmly resisting his tantrum. The moment he put his head down again the reins would instantly relax due to my hand position and I’d soften my elbows again and give him a soft contact. The light bulb went on faster and faster each time this happened, so I’ll be sticking to this technique for a while.
The afternoon sessions were hacking on Her Majesty, who was fiery and wonderful and happy; flatwork with the Wonderful Flipping Filly, who has finally stopped flipping over and now only shakes her head on occasion; hacking on dear daft Vicky, who was a brick (and I can’t think of a nickname for her that suits her better than her actual stable name); schooling the Ditcher (the mare that infamously bucked me off and shot off down the main road during a hack) who was superb; and schooling the Tank, who has finally figured out that in order to make a canter circle her legs should go in the same direction as her head. They’d all made progress (apart from Skye, who doesn’t have to), so what more can I ask for?
I also finally got the pictures of our April 6th training show and they are amazing. Arwen looks superb in them, she really does. I also don’t look like a drunken ape, which is always nice. In fact, I like my jumping position better in these photos than I ever have before. At least now I’ve gotten the idea of giving with my hands without leaping up the neck, eh?
Counting down to Springs. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done! Glory and honour and praise and power to our beloved King!