Thursday, May 14, 2015

A hard lesson and a hard lesson learned

The horses got two days off after going cross country, as per usual.  On Wednesday I took a lesson with M and it went very well.  I hauled over to M's place alone, I wanted to see how Mia would react to a brand new facility without TWH there to back up her confidence.  She did very well, she called out a few times before settling into munching on hay while I tacked her up and we waited for M.  Our lesson was phenomenal, Mia was forward and tried really hard.  M loves Mia's mind and offered to buy her if I decide to not bring her to PA.  How funny!  We worked on really trying to control Mia's canter by riding 100% by seat and doing what we can to get her to balance herself.  It was a fun exercise and while it is very hard, I can see where it will help us long term.  I was also given the homework of lots of walk/canter transitions and sitting trot.  6 pack abs here I come!  I left the lesson feeling very worn out but very excited, I think some good progress is going to be made!

Our first big show was on Saturday and I had decided to bring Mia beginner novice.  I didn't want to overface her and wanted to give her as much confidence as possible so while I won't qualify for year end awards, it is better for Mia overall.  We proved last weekend that we could go Novice, now time to get the experience we need.  We got to the grounds with plenty of time and I started warming up for dressage when I realized I didn't know my test.  I was showing a new level, the only test I knew was the novice test!!!  OPPS!!!!!!!  I hurriedly grabbed my phone and downloaded the CORRECT test and read it over and over until I was fairly confident I wouldn't forget it.  Geez.

Mia was warming up only okay.  She was quite rushed and had no desire to bend.  There were a lot of horses around us who were not watching where they were going and despite being as far away from everyone as I could go, we kept getting people riding around us.  I practiced the test a few times and then watched 2 people ride the test to help solidify it in my mind and headed in the ring.  Mia was...okay.  It wasn't as good of a ride as last week, she braced against me for about half of the ride.  She was rushed and didn't want to bend and then also broke her canter stride.  Ugh.  I had even taken the time to braid her, so much for my efforts lol!

I had no time to worry about it, however, as I had to rush and walk the xc course.  They had allotted 1.5 hours between the two rides and then was 20 minutes late in dressage.  Time to boogie!  Fence 1 was pretty straightforward and 2 was nestled between some pine trees before a run through some very wet stuff to jump 3 which was high and dry.  Number 4 was an inviting log and number 5 was some barrels.  6 was hidden behind a pine tree (that I had to really look for) and 7 was an up bank.  Easy peasy.  8 was at the bottom of the hill that the up bank provided and 9 was also next to a pine tree.  10 was the water, 11 and 12 was inviting, 13 was another upbank.  14 was a small ditch and 15 was a log with some straw bales.  It didn't look that hard or complicated.

Mia and I warmed up and though the footing in warmup was very slippery, it didn't seem to bother her too much.  Mia knocked the stadium warmup fences over 3 times (of course she did) before I was able to get her to listen to me but I had no worries, Mia is a cross country machine.  Famous.  Last.  Words.

We started out from the start box and Mia immediately started sucking behind my leg.  We got over fence 1 without an issue but it wasn't smooth, she didn't drag me to the fence.  Hmmm.  Fence 2 came up and she darted to the right and ran out, all while running us into the pine tree.  Branches smacking us and all, not just brushing the tree but running through it.  I was completely taken by surprise and circled her around and she went over it.  We cantered to the swampy part where I then trotted and picked up a canter in front of fence 3.  We felt forward.  We felt good.  Until we didn't.  Mia did as dirty of a stop she has ever done and reared and lept over to the right, knocking the flag over and coming as close to getting me off as she did at the clinic, if not more so.  As in nothing but the grace of God did I stay on this horse.  I *may* have even accidentally yelled an obscenity, sorry if you heard the F word clear down in Alabama.  That was me.

I circled her around and beat her over fence three and was PISSED.  Where the hell was my xc machine?  Why is she suddenly behaving like this??  This is NOT acceptable!!  I galloped her to fence 4 which she took without even thinking about it and I thought we were back in it.  Ok, she had a bad start, we got this.  We came to the barrels of fence 5 and as soon as she backed off I smacked her with my crop but it didn't help, she again did a dirty run out and knocked the flag down in the process.  If I was pissed before, yeah I was irate now.  I put her over fence 5 with a trot up and a flurry of beatings and we went to fence 6.  She did NOT want to go over it but I gave her zero option.  I again slowed her down to almost a trot and then smacked her 4 times coming up to the jump, all the time screaming at her that we will NOT be eliminated at our first HT!

Yeah, I caused a scene.  I bet I was talked about.  I didn't get a talking to later though, so there is that.  Mia was very hesitant to go up the up bank but I trotted her up to it and smacked her until she was up it and then hit her as we got over fence 8.  We got to 9 and she wanted no part of it.  Thankfully I was smart, I had brought her back to a slow trot so I had more control.  When she tried to go left I blocked, when she tried to go right (into the damn tree), I smacked her.  When she tried to go left again I kicked and then I smacked her at almost a standstill over it.  Grrr.  The rest actually went pretty smooth for us.  The water wasn't an issue, there was a slight hesitation but nothing major.  I don't even remember fences 11/12.  The 2nd up bank was a non issue as was the ditch (surprisingly).  I sent her over the last fence and ended with 60 jump penalties and 13 time penalties.

I don't know what the deal was.  I don't know if it was the brand new venue with brand new jumps that she had never seen.  I don't know if she didn't have her confidence b/c we didn't have any xc warm up jumps.  I don't know if my not jumping last week was an issue.  I really don't know.  I DO know that I am going to talk to the new jumping instructor B on Wednesday about changing bits.  She had suggested it last year at the clinic and I think it is time.  The problem is that Mia puts her head SO far down over jumps that she either yanks me out of the saddle or ends up with really long reins and little control on the landing of a jump.  Grrr.

Stadium came up and it was surprisingly good.  Mia tried to be forward and an idiot but I was NOT in a good mood and I think she realized that she should probably behave if she wanted to survive to see home again.  I held her back at every fence and it really seemed to work, for the first time we went clear over stadium.  A small bright spot in our otherwise crappy day!

I thought we ended up dead last but to my surprise we ended up 11th out of 12.  Someone else had a really bad day with me :)  So my lesson learned for the day is to not be complacent in xc, Mia can decide to run out apparently and our xc rounds are not a given.  I need to try to keep my temper in check and try to have fun.  I need to make sure to practically stop her in front of a jump to really, truly control her, letting her find her stride and pace is not going to work right now.  I found that even bad days come to an end and pulled muscles do heal.  Eventually.


  1. yikes - that does not sound at ALL like the round you were expecting. bad time for an off day Mia!! nice job squeezing a completion out of it!

  2. Eesh, at least you ended up getting her over everything! Hopefully the next one is better!

  3. Oh wow! When Mia decides to have a bad day she really has a bad day. Yikes! I'm glad you didn't fall and that you completed it, even if it sucked. Congrats on the clear stadium! That's pretty exciting. I hope you can figure out what her problem was with cross country and that you don't have such a crappy repeat performance ever again.