Me: "Jimmy, are you sure I've got all my teeth?!" As I open my mouth real wide to show off all my teeth.
Jimmy: "Yea, you've got all your teeth... and a black eye, and some blood coming down your face."
Me: "Shit, seriously? But, you're sure I've got all my teeth?" Showing off all my teeth again right up in Jimmy's face. Jeeezzus, I'm so cool.
Well, as you can imagine, that was not the conversation I was hoping for with Jim Wofford in the middle of yesterday's jumping lesson. Today I'm sporting 3 stitches and a big fat black eye and a new concept and determination about Katchi and those "damn oxers" as I might have called them about 10 times yesterday to Jimmy.
After our Prelim show jumping debut at Loch Moy, I sent Jimmy the video and he had some really helpful comments. So, I was really looking forward to working with him yesterday to polish things off over the larger fences. Tornado warnings yesterday morning delayed our departure a bit (I'm crazy about Jimmy but not so crazy that I'd actually drive Katchi through a tornado to get there!). Luckily they moved East and we headed to West Virginia. The lesson started out great (outside - in the rain!!), and we were focusing on developing a strategy for warming Katchi up at shows. We know his weaknesses, so his warm-up needs to remind him how we need him to jump - specifically for courses, I need to remind him to jump and land taking a 12' canter stride after the fence - this is critical for related distances, obviously. We were working through all this and making good progress with some new concepts that really worked for me mentally. We had a bit of a hard time when we moved onto oxers, and Jimmy and I had a good conversation about making Katchi jump across oxers instead of up. I've been so focused on getting him to the fence but I don't do enough to ride him across the fence. We were really making progress, jumping lots of single fences - verticals, oxers, skinnies, liverpool, walls...
More rain and some ice pellets. But we're tough. The lesson carried on.
Jimmy put the fences up higher and we started working on related distance lines. We had a few icky fences trying to get started again, but then we were rolling. A few verticals, liverpool to vertical - check, check, check. Jimmy says to come around to the one-stride oxer combination - jump across it, one stride, and across again. Easy, right? Nope. We helicoptered the first, one stride (I hear Jimmy say "keep going!"), and harrier planed the second, dropping straight down and landing in a thud - I was still snugly in the saddle, but slammed my face into Katchi's neck and hence the dialogue above began. As I picked myself up off Katchi's neck, I swear I saw something white hit the ground and I was positive I'd lost a tooth. I have such a thing about teeth - I brush mine constantly and have nightmares about losing them! So, I was pretty much totally freaked out over possibly losing a tooth! I can't believe I showed Jimmy my teeth so many times - oh what he must have been thinking!
Everyone at Sharon's was so wonderful to take care of Katchi, protect my saddle from the rain, clean my face, and give me LOTS and LOTS of kind words and heartfelt encouragement. There couldn't have been a better group to split my face open with! After I got cleaned up a bit, Jimmy and I conferred and we decided to ask one of Sharon's riders, Tim, to hop on Katchi. He jumped all the big fences and all the lines - including that damn one-stride oxer combination - beautifully. It was so good to be able to watch that and talk it over with Jimmy. And then as Jimmy said, "lets put his jockey back up." Still bleeding a bit, but now super angry and fiercely determined, we put the fences down to a whopping 2'6" or so and Jimmy said "sick-em." That was about all I could handle at the moment, but wow, Katchi jumped great. We are making progress, and we made even more progress yesterday - with a big oops in the middle. The lesson ended with Jimmy saying something along the lines of, "okay, good work - now you're off to the ER." Again, not the end to the lesson of my dreams.
Undeterred by stitches and a fat eye, Katchi had a date with some small oxers today. Small but wide. Forward canter. Off the ground. Ride across. It was good. I feel okay. I know what I have to do and I know it can be done. I saw Katchi do it with Tim riding yesterday. As Jimmy said, Katchi doesn't make it easy - but, I'll add that he doesn't make it impossible either. So somehow I have to make it possible with me on top.
I'll be sporting my fat eye this weekend at the VADA/NOVA dressage show at Morven Park. If you're in the neighborhood come by and check it out (my eye or the show, whichever!)! Kerry and I are taking the horses on a 5 day adventure starting with the dressage show and then heading straight out to Win Green for Lucinda Green's clinic on Monday and Tuesday. Kerry rides 10AM-12PM both days, and Katchi and I ride at 3PM-5PM. Hope to see you out there!