LH- Lame Horse.
Yup, my mare took her first off step in the 1.5 years I've owned her tonight. Thankfully, it doesn't appear to be anything serious. A wee tiny bit of heat in the coronet area & heel bulb, and a slight shortening of stride around some turns coupled with the occasional head bob. I originally just attributed it to poor footing (as we were riding in the un-harrowed ring outside) but my coach picked up on it too when we were in the indoor. She lunged sound and looks perfect on the straight-away, even when being trotted on hard ground. However, when lunged in a tight circle (the only type of circle there's room for) on the gravel drive, she's a bit off. Hopefully she just bumped herself, or maybe torqued it a bit. It could also be an abscess... but we're keeping our fingers crossed that's not what it is. And anytihng worse than an abscess, I don't even want to consider.
RF- Rider Fall
Most eventers probably understood the second pair of letters right away... and yes, I fall off. At last weekend's competition, I took a tumble out xc. It was a silly fall- we were supposed to be jumping a ditch loc. in the middle of a coffin. Cadence was busy gawking at the first fence of the coffin (which we did not have to jump... so its much scarier) and got surprised by the ditch & leaped to the side. I... did not. I tried to cling on, because I was determined to finish the course, and not get eliminated from our second event in a row... but it was not to be. As soon as I hit the dirt, my first thought was 'why do we have that stupid one fall rule?' Please note, I don't actually think the rule is stupid. I understand why its in place, and agree with it most of the time. However, when you've had a wee tumble, are clearly not hurt, and really just want to school your horse over that damn ditch? Its one hell of a frustrating rule.
On a lighter note, the questions the paramedics have to ask you are down right hilarious. After the initial pleasantries (incliding why you fall, where you fall, how you fall, etc.) I got asked questions like:
1) Are you drunk? No.
2) Are you on drugs? No...
3) Is your horse on drugs? Um, no.
4) Are you on your horses drugs? Really???
5) is your horse on your drugs? Didn't I just tell you I wasn't on drugs? What is my horse going to be on? Tylenol?
Apparently I was giving the paramedics an "Are YOU on drugs?" kind of a look because he started laughing and informed me that they were mandated to ask me these questions. Just saying though, if I were high on my horses drugs do you really think I'd tell you that?
XC- Cross Country
I'm pretty sure everyone got that one. So the day after I fall off, Cadence and I headed up to a lovely facility for a xc school. Why not? The place was gorgeous- the ideal schooling facility for babies up to training/prelim. Cadence was hot, fit, and having fun, but stayed sane throughout the day. We warmed up over a wee tiny (2'3) log that she scoffed at. Apparently we're past those things... according to her anyway. Then moved on to a wee wee wee tiny bank that we were supposed to jump down. It was 18 inches at most, but according to the mare it was the most terrifying 18" object EVER! She refused. I kicked, smacked, and yelled. She jumped. That was pretty much the last issue we had all day.
The school in itself was a great learning experiene for me. I ride a mare that has her gas pedal glued to the floor. She LOVES to go. Since I bought her, all of our jumping work has been on keeping things slow and in control... and that's still a struggle for us some times. So for me to let go and push her at something? It feels like the most unnatural thing in the world. Most of my xc experience (all but one ride...) has been on this mare. I've learned everything along with her, and while I would do nothing differently were I given the opportunity to do it all over again, there's no denying that its hard work to train yourself and an energetic, opinionated, hot, athletic youngster at the same time. Giving in and pushing her as hard as I can at an obstacle? Its like telling yourself its okay to jump out of an airplane- it feels unnatural. I'm always afraid she'll end up too fast, will stop at the last second, I'll go flying, and (most importantly) she'll get hurt/ruined. But what I've had to learn is that there's a difference between riding aggressively and riding fast, and that xc won't always be picturesque and pretty.
A good example of this is when at one point in the school, we were asked to jump a large ditch to a bank. Banks are the one thing out xc that worry me. I'm terrified my horse will just 'splat' up them. The bank was probably 2'6 ish, and there were only three strides between the ditch and the bank, AND they were on an angle. Cadence and I jumped the ditch, but it was clear there was no way in hell we were going to be putting three strides in. It was two or nothing. Panicking that she'd get there in a long, flat, strung out canter (and thus 'splat' up the bank) if we did it in two, I turned her away. BAD KATE!!! I know, I know. After a good yelling from my coach, we did it again. And again... and again. Every time, we put in two strides. And every time, she jumped it beautifully. Lesson learned: trust your horse. Give them the best ride you can, and let them do the rest. It may not be pretty, but (providing they have the ability/scope necessary for the problem ) let THEM figure it out.
Oh, and Cadence jumped her first drop into water, and competently completed her first coffin complex like it was nothing! I wish I had a video... the jumps weren't tiny either!