photo by
Tales of Taco the Wonder Horse and his ammy rider on their way to a Training Three Day

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Have I mentioned that I hate wind?

I've gotten better, but I still hate wind.  When I was a kid I don't remember caring about it.  Now that I'm older and more cautious, wind blowing up a horse's tail causes a chill to go down my own spine.   I did manage to have a nasty fall a couple of years ago on a windy day, and sometimes the memory returns unbidden.  So on windy days I really have to be smart and focused.  Taco will instantly figure out that I am anxious and will add his own editorial comments about what we should do that day.

Well, today he got plenty of comments in.  The wind was blowing at around 25mph, according to Weather Underground.  Maybe it would have been smarter to work on long lining or something else.  But the footing was perfect, and in this wet winter and spring that is a rare commodity!  And-- I hadn't jumped since Full Gallop.  And I felt like such a big shot at Full Gallop, riding around that Training course.  Hah!

So I tacked up...
Ready, Stace?

And went up to the jump field.  Right away, we ran into problems.  The neighbors (the same ones that honked at me from the other side of the fenceline when I was galloping past one day) have a new dog, and they cannot seem to keep the dog on their property.  He came joyfully bounding over, and my constant companion Crescent was thrilled to play.  That did not last, however, because Amy's dogs had seen him from the porch of her house and came whizzing down to the jump field in an outraged pack.  Taco jumped into the air and scooted away.  My heart did a tap-dance.  I decided that I had better dismount while the dog situation resolved itself.  The neighbor did come and scoop the dog into the back of his pickup.  Amy saw me standing on the ground and came to check on me, and I assured her I was fine.

Round two: I got back on and picked up trot right away.  I thought we had done enough walking, thankyouverymuch.  At the trot it is of course much easier to focus for me and therefore I can insist that Taco focus too.  We did some passable trot work, and then I picked up canter to the left.  And found myself shooting down one of the sides of the field!  Taco thought that would be fun, or he was worried the dogs would burst out of the treeline on that side.  One of the two.  Yeehaw.

At this point I was thinking that maybe I should quit while I was ahead.  But I am the pilot, not a passenger, dammit.  And I am a Virgo, and I do love symmetry, and I needed to canter the other way.  So we went to the right.  Not bad-- I maintained the focus and he felt pretty good.  So I talked myself into doing some jumping after all.  There was a little crossrail I could try.

I trotted toward the crossrail and committed a fundamental error:  I decreased my speed and impulsion on the way to the jump.  He was still fresh and spooky, and in the back of my mind I was afraid that he would land in a bucking spree and toss me like a ragdoll.  No, he has never done this to me before.  But I was not being entirely rational.  What ended up happening was that he reached the crossrail with nearly zero impulsion.  And I thought to myself, "well, I am getting Taco, who never stops, to stop."  Wrong!  The most honest horse I have ever known jumped from a near standstill, I landed in a heap on his back, and he jogged away from the jump, with a look of exasperation on his face, I'm sure.

Lesson learned.  The horse MUST have sufficient impulsion to be able to jump.  You will get a far worse jump if you pick down to the base than if you keep your leg on and your hands quiet.  With that knowledge fresh in my mind, the second attempt was considerably better.  He did overjump it with a good bit of enthusiasm, but the feared bucking spree never occurred.  Same with the third and fourth.  Then I called it a day.  Carrots for Taco and reflection for me.

I get frustrated with myself for not fearlessly riding through whatever happens, as I recall doing when I was in my teens and twenties.  Not only do I need to work on my technical skills, but there is this whole other mental layer that I must deal with.  I didn't make wonderful choices today, but I learned some things and lived to think about them.

By way of conclusion, here is Taco enjoying the spring sun.  We still have to feed hay outside, but you can see the greening grass in the background-- and not a moment too soon!


Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

I think most riders have a bad memory of wind and winding up on the ground!

Whitestone Farm said...

Been there, done that oh so many times :) That feeling (oh crap, I may be in over my head today!) is what kept me from riding whilst pregnant these past 38 weeks. Way to ride through it though :)

Anastasia said...

You guys are so right!