One of the hardest things I have ever done, was watch one of my friends ride Colby (extremely successfully I might add), over the weekend in her first full event of the season.
On the Thursday prior, we were xc schooling at Dreamcrest (home of Canadian Olympians Ian Roberts and Kelly Plitz) where Colby proceeded to rock around a bunch of Pre-Training and Training level questions like it was no big deal. For those of you who know Dreamcrest and have schooled/shown there before – their Pre Training Course looks like a mini Prelim course and it is not for the faint of heart. Anyways, Colby was in fine form and we were really pressing her buttons. We were coming to a skinny cabin on an angle and at the last minute she kind of said –‘Ummm, no way mom, sorry!’ and deeked out to the side. This, unfortunately left me with a re-wrenched knee. Seriously, horse? Two days before our event?!
As my luck would have it, one of my barn mates was with us for the day as her horse is off at the moment. I looked at her and said ‘Want to give her a go?’ As it turned out, she was able to finish schooling her for me with a lot of ease. As we were walking around, I said quietly to my coach ‘I am not going to be able to ride her on Saturday, how do you feel about my friend taking the ride? I’ve already paid the entry and she NEEDS to be going out.” As we both watched Colby going around, we knew that she wouldn’t have a problem. I asked my friend how she felt about taking over the ride for the weekend – and she literally beamed at me. Okay, kids, we are back on.
So, with a 40 minute xc school and a hour to get used to her on the Friday before, we set out with a greenie TB mare and a very talented rider to tackle the Caledon Equestrian Centre’s Horse Trials. I don’t know what it is about me and rain and horse shows this year, but each and every single one I have gone to this summer has resulted in torrential downpours. This one was no exception. It went from thunder showers to humid and sunny and back again. All. Day. Long. Regardless, Colby put in a stellar performance and while I will never ever understand dressage scoring, I am over the moon proud of her.
It is a funny feeling to watch your horse under someone else. Hard to describe really. My coach and I could see the quit coming out of the corner in stadium about 6 strides before it happened. There was a roll back to a jump on the diagonal with a bunch of brush under it. As soon as the turn was made, we both saw her sucking back – we were both saying ‘Leg…leg!…LEG!’ to ourselves and sure enough – the damn mare said ‘Nope, ain’t doing it.”
Considering my friend had literally jumped her around a course for the first time the evening before – we have nothing to complain about. Both their faces were beaming when they came out of the ring. It was funny, but I swear when they were headed out – Colby looked right at me and if she could have said ‘I did good mom!!’ She would have.
The xc course was absolutely perfect for her first full one of the season. The jumps were great, inviting and friendly – yet with several fair yet challenging questions on an entry course. There was a related distance of 5 strides on a slight bending line, several jumps going from light to dark and vice versa, variety in what the jumps looked like and enough terrain (read: several significant hills) to make it challenging but more importantly confidence building. She rocked it. Plain and simple. She soared over the first one and it was game on from there. We did see her jump one from a complete standstill though. It was a cabin with a light coloured top and black bottom – athletic much? – but, she jumped it without having to represent. She went double clear and they were both grinning as they came through the finish.
In my head, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Watch as someone else piloted my horse around her first event of the season. Selfish to think that they did so well because of all the work – and tears and blood and sweat and frustration and and and…– my coach and I have put in over the past 18 months – but that is how I felt. Then again, as my coach put it to me ‘She is at this point because of your work, not anybody else’s.’ She always know what to say to make me feel better. That is definitely one of the reasons why she is my coach. I did cry a couple times watching them go throughout the day – I think it was because I was so proud of Colby (and her rider!!) because she acted like a big girl the entire time. No hissy fits, no temper tantrums. I also think that I was frustrated because it wasn’t me that was riding her after all the work we have put in. At the end of the day though, she needed to go out, and I am extremely thankful for my friend to step in literally at the last minute and give her as good a ride as I could have. The day resulted in a big girl performance by Colby and a pretty green ribbon.
In my coach’s words: “We’re not schooling anymore, we are developing.” I don’t think I could think of a better compliment. At the end of the day, I couldn’t be more proud of Colby and you know what? Looking at the pictures and seeing the total enjoyment on both Colby and Kaylea’s faces throughout the event, I know asking Kaylea to take the ride was the right thing to do. I mean really, isn’t this what it is all about?
Thank you Kaylea for stepping in and giving Colby a great ride and giving her the confidence she needs to be the star that we all know she is. I hope you know how much I appreciate it and I will be forever grateful.
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