Pretty innocent looking isn’t she? Well, looks can be deceiving….

After having a decent week of rides in preparation for Glenarden Farms Horse Trials, I left on Friday feeling, good.  Really good.  As in, it was going to go really well.  As Colby’s older brothers’ farm is only about a 25 minute drive from Glenarden, we had a sleepover the night before which saved me having to get up at 3 in the morning…not being a morning person, and this being the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and all, I was pretty thankful for the offer of sleeping over.

Knowing how much exuberance Colby has, I figured it would be a good idea to do a nice light, low key flat ride on Friday afternoon when we got there.  This is when I started to second guess myself as to that good feeling I had started to dwindle….

1 – I got bucked off.  Hard.  You would think Colby would be familiar with her surroundings and be comfortable there, considering she spent the first 3 years of her life on that farm.  And for the most part she was.  Until the talking and temper tantrums started.  We were trotting around on a lovely circle, she was calm, supple and bending properly when out of nowhere – BAM! total temper tantrum and she proceeds to do that move the Lipizzaners do – where they rear up and kick out at the same time.

Let’s just say I went up before I went down and I was left watching her hightail it to the corner of the ring with her tail sticking straight up in the air.

2 – We couldn’t find the farm.  As with most farms, GPS doesn’t get you there and you have to go off of directions in the omnibus or based on a phone conversation you had with someone who works there. When we pulled out around 6 Saturday morning, it was pitch black – but I was confident in being able to find the place as we had to make 3 turns – literally.  Well, in the pitch black, not knowing where you are going and having to rely on street signs the size of a 5 dollar bill, let’s just say a U-ie was pulled in the middle of the road, in the pitch black.   After going all the way back to Colby’s brothers’ farm to consult Mapquest to find out where the hell we were supposed to go, it turns out where we ended up pulling the u-ie was literally right where we had to make the second turn. Good work.

3 – Colby suffers from separation anxiety.  And it is something that she has developed over the course of the summer. Our first little schooling event was fine and then she seemed to get worse from there.  To the point where when we moved the other horse we were with back on to the trailer, she had a total freak out.  I also had to warm up for an hour for dressage because of it…and the entire time, feeling as though I was sitting on a ticking time bomb.  We did however show all the other horses what a nice side pass she has on 3 or 4 different occasions.  I couldn’t get her to relax as hard as I tried which lead to comments from the judge as: More relaxation and forwardness needed, tense through the neck and back, needs more engine, cute horse though.  And she was 100% right…and, although I was slightly terrified to put her into 5th gear, I can say that this was our first test in which she actually didn’t have a temper tantrum during and her marks were pretty consistent. So, I think we need to trust each other a little more and really go for it.  Although, I have no idea what to do about her anxiety and I am very open to suggestions….

4 – Just because you warm up one brilliantly, won’t guarantee you the same performance when it counts.  Yea, yea, I know everyone knows this, but holy, is it ever true with my mare.  After an awesome warm up for SJ, in which we had a nice, forward but steady canter and flow – we lost some of that – okay, most of that – in the ring.  BUT, she was brilliant over a very twisty and turny and tight course.  Double clear and aside from #2 – which was on a sharp right hand turn going up a hill in which I need more push from behind – which resulted in a mountain goat type jump – it was our best SJ round to date.

Mental Preparation: I will NOT end up in the ditch…

5 – Up until The Big E – we have never been better on course.  Sounds kind of silly doesn’t it?  But, let me explain… The entry jumps looked like mini prelim jumps: cabins, benches, roll tops, roll tops with cut outs, etc.  I was pumped and knew there was nothing Colby would have a problem with….except for maybe the ditch (turns out I didn’t even have to worry about that as we didn’t even get that far…). Allison (Bob & Lurch’s mom) walked with us and the one thing she told me that completely changed my mind set was ‘Ride her to the other side of the fence’.  Ding ding ding ding ding!!! – total light bulb moment!

As we were warming up, I felt as though I was sitting on a pretty confident horse.  Sure, we had only schooled xc once in the past 6 weeks, but, I felt confident in my ability to get her around a very ‘lookie’ entry level course….WRONG!  We came out of the box strong and because I couldn’t keep her straight about 4 or 5 strides out– think ‘ooo, wait, what? You want me to go away from everyone? No! No! No!’ – she glanced off the left side of the fence.  Okay, regroup and carry on….from there, she was awesome.  We got to the bank down and that is where we ended up with the Big E.  She just didn’t want any part of it.  And while completely bummed about that as we have dropped down from twice that height before on numerous occasions, we have never worked together as well on course as we had up until that point.

For her 3rd time out ever, I am very proud of her.  Even if it wasn’t the end result I thought we were going to end up with.  Even if she always bucks me off, throws temper tantrums, acts like a complete freak, never stops ‘talking’ to her  friends, warms up brilliantly then acts like a she-devil when it counts, spooks at nothing and tries to kick her older brothers in the face (sorry Bob), I will always be proud of her.

(But, for the record, let’s try to get over all that…)

I will always love you – even if you are a she-devil…

Carrie & the She-Devil Colby