Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Humpty Dumpty

Meet Griffy! 
We pick him on on Saturday.  He's a 5 yr old 15.2ish hand Percheron/Quarter Horse.  I started him as a 3 year old and fell in love with him.  He was so quiet and sweet and easy to get along with that I didn't want his owner to take him back home!  He has done some trail riding in the last 2 years but not much else.  He will come to DW's for a while and then may become a lesson horse if he's quiet enough.  I can't wait to start riding him! 

I've been getting up early to ride and have been loving the quiet foggy mornings.  Can you spot my ponies?

LB and Princess, DW's retired horses, are enjoying a morning graze. 

Remember these days?

Now I feel like this (my neice, Noe).
Now the serious stuff...

Riding River today I really started to question whether my confidence is so low from my rocky eventing career with Flo that it is effecting his training.  We've had a stop at our last 3 horse trials.  I know River is green, can be a difficult horse to ride, and I've just moved him up, but I'm worried that I'm not always the leader he needs me to be. I'm looking forward to a whole MONTH of weekend XC schoolings at PWP in August.

 I was having a conversation with Kate H's mom at Champagne Run and she mentioned that she read Overcoming The Fear of Riding after she had a bad fall.  She suggested that every trainer read it, so I ordered it and hope to hash some of MYconfidence issues while giving it a read.  I also heard an excerpt from How Good Riders Get Good about confidence on the Eventing Radio Show so it's also on my reading list. 

Riding Mia, a VERY brave pony, has the potential to help me regain my XC mojo.  We are gearing up for her Novice debut at Kentucky Classique HT.
Amy and Co. aka, Stace and Lauren, have also suggested that I pursue a free lease on an experienced event horse for the same reason.  There are two horses in the works and I'm going to ride one tomorrow after my jump lesson on Mia.  The mare has a long training record and at 19 years old, she might be able to put in another season showing me the ropes :)  Eventually, I really would like a horse that is experienced and sound enough to take me through the big jump from Training to Prelim. 
The kings horses and men be damned, we WILL put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Big Girl Decisions

I have decided to retire Flo from eventing.  I also gave Pom Pom away.  These were not easy decisions.  Both of them could have been made a long time ago, but I finally was ready to make them and feel 100% confident having done so.  Pom Pom went to a great home right here in Franklin with a girl who is comfortable with her lameness and behavioral issues.

Midsouth was the catalyst for my decision to retire Flo.  I was stressed on Saturday.  I felt like I had a LOT of balls I had to juggle between horses and people and I let it get to me.  My dressage warm ups on both Flo and River were unforgiving and tense. I went into XC warm up on Flo worried that I would overheat and be tired riding River XC later in the day.  I could feel Flo's nerves bubbling underneath the surface but she was jumping well so I didn't express any concern about it to Amy.  Flo and I know each other well enough that she could feel my worry and concern and related it to the task at hand.  I wasn't overly worried about the XC course, but she didn't know that.  I had a good ride to the first fence and I was surprised when she stopped.  She planted her feet in right in the middle of the fence.  As we turned away and I was getting my reins sorted out, I dropped my whip.  We came back at the fence and jumped it well.  After fence #2, Flo ran away from the fence like a scalded rabbit.  I know this mare.  I know when she runs like that she is not rational.  She jumped #3 scared and fast.  I tried to steady and calm her before fence #4, but I knew that I didn't have her back in time.  She stopped and on re-approach she stopped again.  Flo rarely stops at a fence twice.  I knew her mind wasn't in the game and the next fence was the biggest Training fence on the course. I held my hand up and retired.  Flo and I walked off the XC course as a team for the last time.  I was a wreck for the rest of the day.

That night at my birthday dinner, one of my guests asked how my weekend was going.  I told her about my disappointing XC with Flo.  I described to her how she was very inconsistent and took a very specific ride both physically and mentally to have a successful round.  She said that she had a student with a pony exactly like Flo, and expressed how frustrating it was that the student's parents wouldn't buy her a pony that was more forgiving.  "There are just too many good horses out there, as my mother always says." I knew then that it was time to call it quits for good.  It took someone totally outside of my realm of influence to hear it from.  The Monday after Midsouth I flew to CA to visit my family.  Some time away gave me the clarity to confirm my decision.  Coming home to TN, my mind was made up.

I told my farrier of my decisions with Pom Pom and Flo and he looked at me with kindness in his eyes and said, "You're making some big girl decisions, Megan.  I think you're doing the right thing."  I could have hugged him.  Could someone else have ridden Flo and gotten a clear round out of her consistently?  Maybe so.  The fact of the matter is she's MY horse.  I rode her to the best of my ability and wish I could have given her more.  Do I think it's best for someone else to try and force her into being an event horse when she has already shown she doesn't love it? No. It takes more than 'chemistry' between rider and horse to create a successful result.  It takes training and skill and experience and WANT TO.  She doesn't want to and that's OK with me.  Flo is wonderful just the way she is.  She has taught me so much about being a horse mom and eventing and life. After I came home from CA, I pulled her shoes and she is having some time off. 

Reflecting now on our eventing career coming to a close, I do so with tears and pain, and terrible, terrible sadness. I know she's still with me, but melodramatic as it is, I feel like part of me has died and I mourn the loss of it. I'm not sure what her future holds, but in the mean time she will be loved and cared for by her best friend.

She'll always be my favorite, the one who taught me the most.