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This week I was finally able to take step one of making a dream come true – I entered us in the Adult Amateur hunters at a rated show!  Granted, it’s just a C show, and I’m sure we’ll be mostly division filler, and I didn’t love the online entry system for that as much as appreciate the online entries for PVDA stuff that submits everything electronically so you don’t have to print coggins and member cards and whatnot to take along, BUT, we’re entered for the Adult Ammys next weekend at MSA!  Goal is to not throw up before entering the ring, and hopefully come home with some pastel prizes.

With that bright shining goal in sight, I headed to my lesson Friday morning, in the disgusting humidity.  I was sticky before I even got on Cally, who seemed less than enthused about having to do anything but stand in her stall and nap.  But we headed up to the big top ring, and warmed up pretty nicely, with only two pointless spooks that we worked through pretty nicely.  Then I had a chat with Kelley about the fact Id’ just entered us in the AAs for the next weekend, with the plan that we’ll just go have a good learning experience from it.

So we started off on a variant of what we’d been doing two weeks prior, basically making a big, nice-moving trot circle around over a little X, landing with a nice polite canter.  It only took twice through before we turned it around, and headed from the little X down a line, to a little vertical, maybe 2’3.  First time in, we didn’t have enough energy to our trot, and did it in a 5 that ended in a bit of a flier, and Cally doing a bucky lead change at the end.  Erm, no, not quite.  Next time through, I wasn’t to change anything, except have a more forward trot going in.  Voila, polite 5!

At that point, we took a minute to pause, and catch our breath, and Kelley put the X up to a real fence, and the little vertical up a bit, to maybe 2’9.  The goal today, after working on keeping her straight last week, was to work on keeping her adjustable in the line this week.  It was a 60′ line, so a perfect 4, and she was getting 5 easy just trotting in to an X.  Cally is not the most adjustable of horses, and it’s something we’ve been working on, so our challenge today was for me to actually sit up on landing, and ask for the add.

First time through, we had a really fantastic canter coming in, so supple and balanced, and we got to the first fence wonderfully, but I more just sat up than actually half-halted, and we got a really ugly 4-and-a-chipped-5 in the line.  I think I was a little afraid of actually touching her face too much in the line, an extension of not wanting to catch her in the mouth over the fence.  I needed to get over that worry, and actually think about half-halting while in the air, and land asking for it.  When I did that, we easily got the polite 5, easy as you please.

We started to turn the exercise around, and come from the other direction, and Cally got a bit stuck, popping her right shoulder out and not turning, and almost running into a jump standard, and I got panicky and freaked out, in that whole vicious cycle we get into now when my “OMG I might get hurt” takes over and I stop riding and mentally curl up in fetal position and hope not to die.  So Kelley made me walk on a loose rein on a circle, then despite my fearful request not to, to trot on a loose rein, and eventually I forgot I was so terrified of death, and we were trotting nicely, and cantered around perfectly.  We then took a bit of a break, to discuss figuring out what I needed to do to turn off the panic button in my brain, and Kelley’s suggestion is to just slip the reins and grab ahold of the breastplate, because when the horse gets stuck, we’re not going anywhere, really, and just let her unstick herself and walk forward, and collect myself.

I said I needed to go do the jumping exercise again, from this direction, so we both took a deep breath, picked up the canter, and headed into the line.  I didn’t half-halt enough coming in, and we ended up doing a really nice, perfect 4 down the line.  Kelley said that was nice, but she’s naturally got a 12′ step and will do the perfect 4 all day long, sit up and ride for 8.  I….don’t know about that one, but OK, up and small.  We got crooked coming in the second time through, and got 5 in a bit of an arc, though we ended up dead center to the 2nd fence.  One more time through, with a perfect canter coming in and me thinking about it in the air, and we did the easy 5.  That was a good note to end on, exactly what we wanted, and having it feel good and unforced, and both of us feeling confident.

It’s difficult, because when I’m actually riding, and she’s going well, I feel like we could go jump around an AO course without a problem; she makes it feel easy, and has the step no problem.  It’s just working on re-routing my thinking and keeping my confidence–or at least faking it well enough to convince myself–when things get a little sticky.  I think she’s going to be happy enough to be going in the ring to jump that we don’t have anything to worry about going and doing the AAs next weekend, especially because I’m actually going to keep let on down the lines and let her do the step she finds so easy.  If I ride confidently, and ride the awesome horse I have, we’ll both stay actually confident, and do great.  Fingers crossed!

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