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We Are Flying Solo

November 4, 2010

The Anticlimactic Climax

As Friday evening staggered to a close, two things came along that vastly improved my mood.

(1) Margaritas. What's not to love!

(2) I checked the leaderboard.

While sadly, my four jumping faults did NOT evaporate into thin air, I learned that despite a psychotic rider and a stiff back end, the judge was kind enough to grace Solo with a 34.5, which left us tied for 11th place out of about 30.

Ok, maybe this wasn't the worst horse trial ever.

So when Saturday dawned and I carefully arranged all our gear for our cross country run, I actually had a smile on my face. I had walked the course three times. Normally, I only walk once, but this course was VERY hilly, VERY turny, and I wanted to feel 100% confident about not only where I was going, but how I was going to ride there.

Saturday also came with a fun bonus surprise, but I am not revealing it yet, I am just going to let you suffer and wonder until it is ready to unveil. No, it is not a free prospect for me to train. I wish.

When 11:50 am rolled around, we were locked and ready to run. Our warmup jumps felt fantastic. The grass was dry and the sky was blue and my timer was set. The starter nodded his head and said my favourite sentence.

"5...4...3...2...1...have a great ride."

Solo rolled forward and I whispered our startbox launch code: "Go get 'em, buddy!"

Once the course takes over, you stop thinking and you just DO. The first few jumps were simple, positioned on steeply rolling terrain to test your balance. There was a sharp left turn and a downhill takeoff to a set of whiskey barrels. I focused hard, remembering to STAY OFF THE BRIDLE and use shoulders and body to balance Solo back.

He tore across the next series of single jumps and didn't blink at the offset two-stride coops. After jump 11, I remembered the all important half-halt-almost-totally-halt so you can make the tight rollback turn in a shallow, cramped grassy bowl to a low rail at 12. Drop and bank to open table to a bold water combination came next.

I glanced at my watch and we were good on time, but still a bit close to speed faults for comfort. The course had been set at 400 mpm, which is a good open canter, but not an all-out gallop, so I slowed Solo's pace a bit.

18 was the open trakehner at the base of a slope and I mentally heard David's voice telling me to close my leg, just ride forward, keep your eyes up, and don't touch the reins. Then up the hill to the final big brush jump at 19 and we were home free.

We rolled to a stop, double clear with big gasping grins and that was it. Time to pack up our toys and go home.

The end of the weekend saw us tied for a surprising 8th place. Without my choke-rail in stadium, it would have been a 5th. Not to shabby for a couple of goofballs trying to cobble it together on their own. Our team finished in a tidy 6th. No pretty ribbons to take home, but many lessons learned. And a well-earned rest for Solo as this would be his last horse trial of 2010.

However, there was one unexpected development. I found myself thinking about all the challenges of the weekend and realized that they were merely logistical ones. The courses themselves had ridden well and I felt good about them. All at once, I heard these words on my head:

You know, I don't think there was anything they could have thrown at us at this level that we couldn't have tackled with confidence and solved.

My eyes, more than once, had wandered thoughtfully over the Training level cross country jumps. I had walked the Training level stadium course, thinking, you know, we've been jumping stuff this big at home...

I just might be hatching a plan, a scheme that just might involve taking Solo up to Training level during our next season.

Don't tell Solo.

9 comments:

  1. FUN!! Somehow, I knew that cross-country would roll along smoothly for you guys (it seems to be a trend!).
    As for Training -- hey, why not? Maybe you could even do a T3D, which would be awesome.
    Congrats!! :-)

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  2. Ah, Frizzle, you have laid bare my master plan.

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  3. Congrats! What a great ride.

    I'm excited for you and for me to get to read about Training. Woot!

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  4. Thanks, SB -- I hope you get to read about it! Nothing in horses is assured, that I have learned...

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  5. Sounds like you gained priceless experience. Great job going it alone and doing so well!!

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  6. Thank you, Amy!! It means a lot!

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  7. Ooops, my bad. ;-) Damn my psychic powers! Now, if I could only use them to predict the winning Powerball numbers...

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  8. If you are successful, please share!

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