I. Had. The. BEST. Lesson this morning. It was fabulous!!
Champ is really warming up to me, I think, and he was a total sweetheart for grooming and tacking up. When I got up this morning, I started praying to all the gods and goddesses that it would NOT rain until after my lesson (big storm supposedly on its way here). For some reason, I felt really really brave today. I wanted to jump that horse. I wanted to do a whole course of eight or ten fences, and NAIL it.
And since I got some new gear for the horse trials, I had to try out everything so I could make sure it all fit and worked right. I didn't wear the white breeches, but I did put on the new green and black socks, and my new gloves, and a new thermal undershirt which is WARMWARMWARM (I need to go get another one!). I wore my green helmet that I'll wear for my cross country round, and I put Champ's new dark green saddlepad on him, too. He looked great, and I was happy to have my very favorite gloves again -- SSG All-Weather, in green and black, of course.
I knew this lesson would be good. How did I know that? I don't know, exactly. Champ was quiet in the cross ties, and didn't even flinch when I groomed his belly and stifle area, where he usually squeals and kicks. I shut the radio off so it would be quiet, and I started and ended the grooming with pretzels, his favorite. It was so cute to see his ears perk up when I rustled the little pretzel bag!
I couldn't find my dressage whip, so I went with spurs instead. But I promised I would take them off to jump -- no risk of inadvertent spur to the side, and I certainly wouldn't need to go any faster once we got into jumping.
In the ring, he was pretty darn good. Still kind of mincy at the walk and the trot, but not horrible. I adjusted my stirrups to jumping length, and automatically, I felt really secure. I think too-long stirrups might have been a large portion of my problem in my last crummy jumping ride. We got right to the jumping after a brief warmup. I cantered and galloped him around the ring until the tears ran down my face (it was cold). I practiced my galloping position for real, and didn't lose my balance.
My trainer set up a course with some very difficult turns and lines, but I was ready. I kept telling myself that I would sit up and keep my shoulders back and that I would WAIT til he jumped, let him throw me out of the saddle instead of anticipating and getting ahead of him.
We jumped, the flowerbox to a TIGHT left, to the HHS gate, to a sweeping right to the moon and stars, then across and to the right to the brick (odd angle)...and there is where I was so tickled to have made the turn that we lost forward motion a bit, just enough for him to get disorganized, and he started to slow down......and then he sort of stopped and turned left just a little....and.....I.....fell.
We weren't going that fast, and he turned to his left, away from the fence. I saw the white wing standard in my peripheral vision and I KNEW I was going to hit it.....in my mind I was wondering how hard that was going to be/how hurt my shoulder was going to be, and then I realized....I missed it....smacked my hand on the jump cup....kept going down into the ring sand, holding on to the reins still....and Champ was walking backward away from me and I was trying to hold on to him, and he was dragging me, but I knew I wasn't hurt, and I let go, and Champ....I looked up and he was just standing there, looking at me.
"What are you doing down there??"
On my hands and knees, I realized my right hand hurt like all the fingers had been bent backward, but I knew it was no big deal. I took my glove off to check, even though it didn't really hurt, per se. I was surprised to see I had scraped all the skin off all my knuckles, which were bleeding. Huh.
My trainer gave me a leg back up on Champ. I was shaking all over, but not scared, not hurt, NOT NERVOUS. Somehow, I knew I could do this. I just knew it. I knew I had to do more, so I wouldn't be scared, and so I wouldn't let ANY self-doubt creep in. I felt rock-solid on that horse.
I finished the course with the oxer to the one-stride verticals, a straight shot. Kathy wanted me to halt at B on the other side of the ring...after one post-jump circle to get ourselves together, we did exactly that.
I can't remember the last time I had THAT much fun, or felt that confident, jumping a horse. Maybe never.
Because I didn't want to waste any of Champ's forward way of going, I practiced my dressage test once, and it was great. Nice, tight bendy turns down the centerline, nice square halts at X....kind of egg-shaped 20m circles, but at least he was moving out and not trotting with all his feet tucked under him. I called it good. Kathy called it great! On the walk back to the barn, I felt like I could do ANYTHING.
Kathy took this picture of me after my lesson.
I LOVE this guy!