Ride em'owboy!! Photo used with kind premission by the wonderful Susan Dall Photography

Ride em’ cowboy!! Photo used with kind permission by the wonderful Susan Dall Photography

A Picture paints a 1,000 words…that is how the saying goes right?  Or, something along those lines? Colby’s first outing of the 2013 season, ended with the same result as the last outing of 2012.  With The Big E.  Sigh.  And with yours truly with a whack of soft tissue damage to my right knee.  Double Sigh. The good news, is that my nifty Hit Air Vest did exactly what it was supposed to do and I am not sore anywhere on my body other than my knee.  I’ll get to that in a second.

The idea, knowing that Colby gets quite tense and somewhat challenging to ride at shows, was to take her to a small schooling Short Course before her first full event on May 26.  Now, to be completely honest, she was champ in less than ideal conditions and tried her  stinkin’ heart out for me.  Yes, it is May, but we were dealing with freezing cold, 60kms winds, rain, then snow, then hail…which was going sideways while we were jumping.  She nailed the dressage – in the rain and wind.  The judge – for once, did not comment on the need for her to ‘be more forward’.  Ha.

Warming up for the jumping portion was chaotic.  There was wind, snow/hail and all in all it was just not pleasant to be outside – let alone riding outside.  This is what happened according to the ring crew – because I don’t really remember what happened after the approach given it all happened so quickly…

We got a little deep to a jump, she slipped.  Her nose ended up almost touching the ground on the landing side, her hind end came underneath her and her front legs ended up under the jump.  This caused my upper body to be thrown forward – and I felt my right knee wrench at some point – more than likely as she spun to her left.  (If I am trying to be positive, at least it tells me my lower body was solid and I wasn’t gripping with my knee….right?  Well, that is what I am telling myself anyways.) This obviously scared the be-jesus out of her (the poor thing) and she ended up on her two hind legs.  Ugh.

At some point I made the decision to bail and to be completely honest – I had no idea that she had reared like that until I saw the picture.  I assume I must have felt myself slipping and made the decision to get out of dodge.  I also landed on my feet – and there is absolutely no way I would have believed that either until the photographer sent me the picture to prove it.  Speaking of the photographer – her name is Susan Dall – and she is a fantastic woman who is local to the area in which I reside.  Check out her Facebook Page here – you won’t be disappointed!

Good thing there is proof of me landing on my feet - because I didn't believe it for a second.

Good thing there is proof of me landing on my feet – because I didn’t believe it for a second.

It all started to come together once I had seen the picture of me landing on my feet.  The jarring impact of me landing, more than likely caused my right knee to buckle and I went down onto my left side – I have a brutal grass stain on my nice white breeches now which will be impossible to get out.  My air vest deployed and I remember lying on the ground thinking my knee is effed and not feeling any sort of pain anywhere else.  Moral of the story – everyone needs a Hit Air Vest.

Colby landed on her feet – was spooked – rightfully so and took off – at least we were in an enclosed area at the time!  She was completely no worse for the wear (she doesn’t have a scratch on her and I am so grateful that I am the one who took the brunt of the physical damage ), except for more than likely taking a huge hit to her confidence.  That breaks my heart…more than anything else.  She tried her guts out for me in crap conditions and look what happened to her.  When I got home, my poor husband – whom I hadn’t seen in 3 weeks as he was away for work, was met with me balling my eyes out – because I was upset about what happened to Colby from her mental perspective.

So, this is what I am struggling with now: It just doesn’t make sense when we are schooling so well at home – with confidence, power, an overall good attitude in which we can tell she is enjoying her job – to having it all fall apart at a show.  I can’t even make the excuse of being ‘off property’ playing into it because we school off property regularly to try and help her gain the confidence she needs.

Now, my coach, who really truly is my rock through all of this, always comes out with a positive.  She said to me: “Knowing she can be difficult at the best of times, there are vibes at a show which you simply cannot duplicate at home or schooling off property.  There is tension in the air, there are nerves in the air and for a 5 year old Diva of a TB, that is going to play into her mood. We know she doesn’t take easily to that sort of atmosphere, so let’s take a small step back and then come out gang busting like we planned.  She simply needs exposure to pressure.  Period.  And that takes time. Period.”  Right.  Duly noted.

So, that entails completely changing the ‘plan’ for the summer.  Over the next couple weeks, we are going to continue schooling at home in the exact same manner, and work on keeping her confidence levels up.  We are going to go to some small jumper shows and give her a lot to look at in an atmosphere which she needs more exposure to.  I’d like to say we will be going to such and such event on such and such a date but, I think I will let Colby make that decision on my behalf and let her tell me when she is ready.

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