...And Nobody Died.
|No actual media from yesterday's school, but we did jump this same fence!|
The park had held an event derby type competition last weekend, and while I was unable to show, I definitely wanted to get over to the park to school the course before they took it down. There were a bunch of small Intro-BN sized cross country jumps brought into the big main arena, as well as several stadium fences. Considering the fact that cross country courses everywhere in Area II are currently closed due to the ridiculous amount of rain we've had, it was a good opportunity to get out and jump some solid jumps.
Chancey's Person and I rolled into the park, tacked up, put all the stadium fences down to Size Tiny, and upon mounting up I felt a wave of terror.
Hello, old friend.
I started my warm up and eyeballed the fences to see which ones looked the smallest and least horrifying. My breathing was way too shallow, all of my muscles felt tense, and I could feel my legs getting sore just trotting around the ring because of how tight and nervous I was.
Guys. I was scared.
So I kept flatting. I made circles. I tried to breathe. I focused on keeping my reins short and my pony forward. Dino started reaching into the contact at the trot. I asked for the canter, and Dino picked it up right away, on both leads, without complaining. We hand-galloped around some. We did some transitions. We cantered on the contact, and Dino really stretched over his back and into the bridle.
My pony was being pretty much perfect, and I was still scared. I told myself that if all I did that day was trot a crossrail ten times, then I would be okay with that.
So, we trotted the crossrail.
Actually, I attempted to trot the crossrail, and Dino hopped up into a canter and jumped it enthusiastically. Several times.
My confidence mildly boosted by his excellent behavior, I aimed Dino at a 2' vertical and picked up a trot. Again, Wonder Pony stepped into canter without any prompting and carried me right over, landing in a hand gallop on the backside. He even made some excellent executive decisions when Fear-Addled-Alli wanted to add just one more step, and Dino took over and took off from a more appropriate distance.
We continued on in this manner, picking up a trot or small canter and jumping one fence at a time, allowing myself to mentally recover, and then jumping another one. We jumped nearly all of the Elementary-sized XC jumps, save a small ramped table that was freaking me out a bit. It was not a day to push the limits!
Eventually I was able to string together little patterns of 3 fences at a time without totally losing it, and Dino was an absolute rock star the entire time. He was never unsure, never questioned that he was to get to the other side of the jump, and totally took care of me when I wasn't giving him a very good ride. And despite how anxious I felt, I never once stared down at a jump and pulled, so that's awesome!
I ended the ride feeling like I could have jumped quite a few more, and larger, fences, but was more than happy to finish on that note than to have racked up a refusal, run-out, or fall because I pushed for too much. While I'm disappointed that I'm having a bit of a psychological setback after taking a tumble last week, I'm THRILLED that Dino totally redeemed himself and was feeling like the confident, badass jumper pony I know and love. He really seemed to enjoy himself out there, and pulled me to every fence with his ears up. And I'm so, so happy that I was right about his stop last week - just a punky, bored pony testing the waters and not at all the start of another death-spiral of refusals.
Building confidence takes time, and like most other things, is anything but a straightforward progression! I'm looking forward to going back to the park soon and riding to the level of awesomeness I've achieved in my lessons so far this year, and actually riding like Dino's teammate instead of a terrified toad on a log.