I really believed I was a Good Rider and Competitor Extraordinaire after an amazing show year in 2007.
But I'd forgotten what a great leveler the horse is.
Pride in a Perfect Show Season....
That year my husband's gray horse (photo left) won a local one day event with me at our first competition since moving to Maryland. Then my bay gelding, Cruz Bay and I won both classes at our first dressage show and continued to win all the next five shows, even when we moved up a level!
Boy, I really knew my stuff and was poised to move up yet another level.
.....Followed by the Fall
I took Cruz to a huge venue in New Jersey and boy, was I going to show them!
But when I rode him into the warm-up arena we couldn't believe how crowded it was, or the number of Grand Prix dressage riders who rode straight at us in extended trot - and I mean, extended - or attacked our flanks in canter half-pass.
Cruz felt intimidated by these large, muscular animals. Unfortunately I was of no use to him because I was reacting the same way. So when two massive horses came at us in canter half-pass from both the left and the right, Cruz was terrified and reared vertically.
I sat out the rear, but the force of his landing ejected me out of the saddle. I sailed into the air and met the ground with a loud thump while my gelding galloped off around the New Jersey Horse Park.
And Big Bruises
Two paramedics picked my embarrassed body off the sand surface and asked what injuries I'd sustained. I replied (in tears, let's be honest): "A bruised ego."
The next stop was Rite Aid, to buy two walking canes so I could hobble round the show grounds applauding, and pretending to be happy for, the other competitors in my group who were - of course - winning everything.
My Takeaway (and Yours)
It has taken me a long time to recover from that accident, and the journey back to restoring trust between my horse and me has been tough.
Over that humbling period I've learned a lot more about riding and a great deal about conquering fear. This past season we were back in the show ring, and collecting high scores again (most of the time!).
The purpose of this blog is to share what I've discovered with you. I really hope it will help improve relations between you and your horse and that you will share your experiences with me.
See you on Friday for the first post!
Horses are my big obsession, and I'm constantly striving to get better, smarter and more in harmony with my equine buddy, Cruz Bay.
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