Thursday, May 31, 2012

One end rears and the other end bucks...

Every newbie, nay (no pun intended) probably every rider, will eventually ask themselves, "what the hell am I doing?"  There is going to be that moment of doubt followed by that moment of truth.  Do I continue down this horsey path?  Little involving horses goes right all the time, 50% of the time, 20% of the time.  Sometimes things go so badly you wonder if you've just made a huge mistake.  Is this a sign?  Should I just give up, sell everything, cut my losses and possibly salvage my tailbone?  After all, this is a hobby (for most of us), we pay lots of money to participate in this sport and its supposed to be fun!!  But sometimes its not so fun.  Sometimes it is frustrating, infuriating and downright painful (figuratively and literally).  I've had this moment (maybe even plural) and each time have decided to stick to my guns, and push onward in my quest to be a good, competent, safe, possibly confident rider.  I don't know why.  Maybe its because I've invested too much thus far to just call it quits, maybe I've caused permanent nerve damage to my butt and I can't feel the pain anymore, maybe I view that 20% fun / 80% agony ratio as just lots of room for improvement or maybe its because I know if I put the time in, invest enough sweat, blood and tears (possibly more tears than sweat and blood) I can do it.  Knowing you CAN accomplish your goals means the only thing left to get there is hard work.  And I am good at hard work.  That little bit of faith in myself, knowing I'm capable of doing this, tempered with my desire, is enough to keep me motivated and to keep me from throwing in the towel.  Newbies!  We can do this!  It won't always be perfect or pretty and we are going to fall, and its going to hurt our butt and our pride, but we will get back on this f*#king horse!  Maybe not right away, maybe after our tailbone heals, after we remove the ice pack from our underwear and we no longer need to sit on a donut, but we will get back on!  That's my motivational speech, inspired yet?  Remember Jim Wofford's article newbies, great riders are made, not born.  That means somewhat good, mediocre-ish, maybe above average riders can be made too!

So Bernie and I continue our quest to become a superb eventing pair by completely ignoring (or possibly trying to forget) the cross-country phase.  Right now we are focused on being ring masters.  This has some setbacks, created by Bernie's need to be ridden everyday and my lack of being able to ride everyday.  Without the daily ride, Bernie seems to lack focus, completely forgetting what we had accomplished on previous rides.  We have no building blocks of progress, no consistency.  We have a great ride one day, and the next ride makes me question if I tacked up the right horse. 

I ride on a rare Thursday, and he was perfect, saintly even.  No spooking, no hesitation, obedient to my aides, we jump around some small fences.  Kerry even says we look good!  I'm excited.  I know I want to ride Friday after work to try and follow through with this saintly behavior, encourage it, capitalize on it and progress to jumping a small course.  I feel like we are ready.  I can't ride Friday.  I'm disappointed, but have plans to ride Saturday and Sunday, so I don't think too much of it.  What is it they say about the best laid plans? 

Saturday arrives, knowing Bernie's propensity towards misbehavior after a day of rest, I lunge him before we get started.  He lunges fine, very quiet.  And we ride.  He's a bit eh, and unfocused, and well, moody.  We hammer home some flat work, work through some small arguments and head down to a small cross rail.  AND he runs out.  And then he runs out again.  Come one Julie, pull this together!  Kerry starts coaching me, even though she's giving other people a lesson.  Third times a charm and we make it over, but he's not quiet about it, lunges for it and is trying to run away after the landing.  We make it a second time, but his behavior doesn't improve.  No small course for us today, the cross rail is challenge enough.  The ring is full of other riders prepping for a show, so I decide to just end with some flat work and not push the jumping issue (wimp).  As we trot down the long side, the evil cross rail is to the right of us.  Another rider is turning for the fence and I thought her horse might be distracted by Bernie and me being RIGHT next to the jump, so we trot forward past.  Her horse jumps fine, no issues.  MY horse takes off bucking at a heady pace.  As I'm being tossed around like Luke Perry in 8 Seconds I start to question my sanity and that of my horse.  Is this the right horse?  This can't be the same horse I rode two days ago.  Am I taking crazy pills?  Is Bernie taking crazy pills?  I manage to push myself back down into the saddle from off his neck, I have no stirrups and a lot of mane and I'm giving this a fair ride (I've often wondered how I would do on one of those mechanical bulls, it can't be harder than an actual horse).  But alas, here comes the turn and Bernie is exuberantly bucking and quite possibly picking up speed, its hard to say.  I seem to be heading for a fall off his left side, but there are railroad ties there and those aren't looking so soft and squishy to land on.  I think I make a mental decision to bail right and I land with a resounding thud, while Bernie heads quietly to the barn.  I am slow to get up.  I can tell I'm not hurt in a major way (everything is moving as it should be, albeit painfully) but I'm hurt.  I landed on my hips/lower back/upper butt area and somehow scraped my elbow.  I just kind of sit there, dumbly staring as others collect my horse and run to assist me.  Clearly I'm not getting back on, shockingly I'm not crying.  Everyone is asking me what I need, as I haven't moved from the ring yet.  What I really want is a shotgun and a backhoe, but that's not something you say aloud around kids on ponies.  I settle for some IB profen and ice.  Kerry and Lori help move me to a more comfortable position laying on my side on a random, but handy, patio swing by the ring.  An EMT from across the street at the show grounds (convenient) arrives to check me out and concludes I'm just badly bruised and supplies wonderful, pain numbing ice packs which I promptly shove down my pants.  Sophie the dog consoles me with attention (I'm on her swing) and pitying glances.  Now to get me home.  I probably could drive, but nobody wants me to.  I have tons of offers from the barn crowd, but I'm trying not be a pain in the ass about my pain in the ass.  My husband is out of town, so who can I call to come get me, have a small chuckle at my expense, all while seriously making sure I'm okay and have everything I need?  Donnie to the rescue.  I call Donnie, and that's when the water works begin, I'm sobbing in the phone asking him to come get me and not tell Vince (my husband) because I haven't called him yet.  Donnie shows up with his wife/my cousin and my uncle and we get me and (wonderfully) my truck home.  Donnie also has to get me more ice (thanks Donnie) and I have my sights set on some left over Vicodin.  And if you must know, yes, the left over Vicodin is from a previous (non-Bernie) horse fall when I badly busted my tailbone, much worse than this particular hard encounter with the ground.  THAT fall concluded with a ride in an ambulance, the emergency room, x-rays and morphine (yummy).  So, overall, I'm ahead of the game with only a convenient EMT visit, and no hospital trip.  Now I just need to call my husband.  And this is when my moment of doubt and moment of truth occurs.  I don't want to call him, he's going to be upset and worried that I got hurt AGAIN.  Maybe I should just stop riding and give up, sparing myself the physical pain and my family the worrying.  And I ask myself, is all this worth it?  And the answer is yes.  And I call him, and I'm crying (surprised?), but its okay. 

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