October 26, 2011

Second Chances

Talk about second chances.

I got a text from my old equestrian team coach this morning, asking me if I was interested in showing in alumni flat and fences on Sunday at the Purdue show, because they didn't have enough riders for the class to go.  My thoughts ranged from, "No way, I'm done with that hunter crap!" to "That would totally feel like college again," to "You do sort of need to redeem yourself after your first and last IHSA jump round almost two years ago..."
That's not me.  That's my former teammate, Sarah, whom I will be losing to this weekend!

Einstein.  Novice fences.  Six jumping efforts 2'3-2'9 with one change of direction.  I had had a horrible year of jumping lessons twice a week so far, a split between being mounted on horses that were as green over fences as I was, and a horse whose landings were so unpredictable, it was terrifying.  I approached every fence I jumped that year with the only goal of surviving to the other side.  I couldn't think about anything else, and I was tense, and all of my horses rushed.

But of course, I've always been the type of person to face what scares me the most, and I wanted to at least say I'd jumped in IHSA.  So I did one novice fences class at the last show of the season...and it went terribly.  I was on a really nice, sensitive horse, but I was absolutely terrified.  I was bad at remembering courses, and wanted only to survive.  It was undoubtedly one of the scariest things I've ever done, and one of the scariest things the spectators had ever seen.  The second I got off the horse, I ran out of the barn and hid behind the tractor barn at Black Dog and just sobbed for a good half hour or so.

So that was the end of my jumping until I met my trainer.  Until my riding was completely changed, and my idea of jumping became less about survival and more about controlling the ride.  Less about fear and more about enjoying myself.  With my trainer, Adagio, Dillon and Mac, I have become a much better rider than I was back then.

Is it enough?  I wonder.  Will all the old fears and insecurities come back?  I don't think the fears and insecurities about jumping itself will ever come back, but what about the course?  Can I still "look pretty?"  I mean, I'm pretty attached to this eventing thing by now.  I know that my trainer has given me the tools I need to be successful, but it's still nerve-wracking.  I have a lot to prove, both to myself and to my former teammates and coach.

We will see!

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