I wasn't really expecting to have to live up to my motto -- nanakorobi, yaoki, or 'seven times fall, eight rise' -- during event camp. Unfortunately ... I had to embody the motto. And I did, for which I am very proud of myself. Thus the title of the post: 'two times fall, three rise.'
Tuesday went brilliantly. We did a canter pole exercise for the first session, an exercise I'd done before with MT. My teacher for event camp was TD, which is totally fine and wonderful, because she's just as good as MT and, unsurprisingly, has a very similar teaching style. Reveille was a star through the exercise, and I learned quite a bit about riding the ground poles, keeping her steady and in a canter rhythm.
The afternoon lesson was out on the northeast cross-country field, and Reveille was, again, a star. I had no problems jumping her at all -- we did small logs, up and down a mound, and generally getting comfortable in the jumping field. The other two students in the cross-rails class had to repeat the jumps several times, but Rev and I did them right the first time, every time.
(Does anyone see where this is going yet?)
So I praised her a lot, told her what a good girl she was, and put her up for the evening after our two classes.
Wednesday had a few more problems. The weather had turned on us, from nice but windy to cold, windy, and rainy, and the night before there'd been thunder and lightning along with the rain. So I arrived to the barn Wednesday morning to discover that I had a LOT of horse. A. Lot. Not only that, but I also had a LOT of really quite pissy horse. Sigh! She was tired, she hates being out in cold rain, and she was not looking forward to more riding.
But I got her out in the field anyway, and we got started. Not long after the lesson started, TD asked the class to start jumping some logs we hadn't jumped the day before, in the southeast field. One of the logs I know we'd jumped once before, at the event derby clinic, so I figured we'd be okay. I managed to forget or just not do the thing I need to do most of all: ride every step. I just didn't do very well what we'd been practicing all along: keep a steady rhythm and keep the horse steady to the jump and after the jump. Her trot rhythm changed, she started to wobble on the approach, and I wasn't sitting right.
She ducked right really quickly, and I found myself falling. I didn't quite fall all the way, but enough that I couldn't recover my balance, so I kind of kicked out of the stirrups and threw myself out of the saddle. It wasn't so bad -- she'd mostly stopped by the time I fell, and I was able to pretty much control my landing so my event vest took most of the impact. My lower back and sacroiliac joints hurt, but not badly, and I could get on with it.
So we jumped the scary log three more times, and then proceeded. No further falls in the morning lesson -- even when we jumped up a bank and then down the bank for the very first time. I was kind of scared of the down-bank, but ... it came out okay. She did water just fine, too. We even jumped the scary log from the back side, where it's a bit charred and shiny and extra-scary. I rode the approach right, though, and she jumped it the first time. She jumped big and round, but she jumped it.
So then, in the afternoon lesson, we went into the center sand arena for showjumping practice. We'd never done a course as long as the one TD had us doing, and we'd never really done even a small course of cross-rails at the canter all the way through. Things were going just fine, once I remembered the course, and Reveille was being pretty good, if a bit cranky.
So ... somehow, toward the last quarter of the lesson, we were both getting tired. And on one three-jump line, I did the exact. same. thing. I'd done in the morning lesson to get myself dumped. I didn't sit quite right, I wasn't firm enough on the approach, my reins weren't evenly connected, and I let her bobble on the line coming into the jump. She jumped it way to the right, where it was much bigger than the center, and then as we landed, she veered hard right.
I had time to cuss loudly before I went sprawling in the sand. This time, it hurt. I fell in exactly the same way I'd fallen before -- right side first, but mostly on my back, avoiding hitting my head or my collarbones. It took me a minute to really assess my physical condition, make sure that nothing was hurt. I actually thought to myself "you better move, or they're going to think you're really hurt ..." ["they" being the assortment of young teenagers watching the lesson and TD] So I got up on hands and knees and rocked a little to stretch out my lower back, assured TD that I was okay and hadn't hit my head, and then moved to sit on the sand.
It was then that I really started cussing. ;) I was pissed at myself -- I knew what I'd done wrong. I knew what I needed to do to fix it. And yet, I didn't do the right thing. Grrrr! I'm a better rider than that! And dammit, that HURT. HURT, I tell you.
But -- of course, I got back into the saddle, and we jumped that line a few more times in the canter. I rode my best through it, and we had no further problems. We rode the entire course again, and again, no further problems.
I pretty much toughed it out, didn't let on too much how rattled I was -- this proved MT's statement that "falling doesn't do you any good, and it doesn't do [Reveille] any good." I kind of talked to another of the teachers/campers about it, and she assured me that we've ALL been there, and we ALL feel stupid when we fall. This helped a little.
I abandoned my plans to organize a group dinner and just picked up some nachos, made a quick visit to my chiropractor (which helped), picked up an inexpensive breastplate, and then went home to indulge in ice, ibuprofen, and horse liniment. :/
Thursday was the day when we'd put together everything we'd learned and jump a cross-country course all the way round, at our level.
I had SUCH a hard time getting out of bed that morning. My back hurt. Like, HURT. I had to tell myself that I knew it'd get better once I got moving, that I didn't want to look like a wuss in front of the entire camp, that all I had to do was ride that one course and I would be done, and that I didn't want to miss out on the last day. That I'd regret it forever if I called out hurt. And even after all that motivation, I had to pretty much sternly tell myself to cowboy up and just get out of bed!
When we walked the course, I got more and more nervous. I told TD that I needed her to talk me out of being scared -- she's not so good at the reassurance, but she did her best. My friend K did a little better at the reassurance when I rode up to the group she and TD were in and asked, "Tell me again why I shouldn't be scared?" Well, I found out the answer to that question after our course ride.
The warmup went well -- Rev was calm, not pissy, and jumping well. I was even jumping well with her, keeping firmly in mind my seat and leg and body position. Things were starting to calm down in my head. Still, when we got on course, I was tense enough at the first two jumps that she just trotted them, rather than jumping.
At jump 3, she spooked at a jump that'd been moved overnight -- and I just sat down on her and made a wall out of my right leg, right seatbone, and right hand, and we got right back on course. This is when I realized I could do it. We jumped around the northeast field, and then moved into the southeast field for the second part of the course. Which included the scary log she'd refused the day before. TD was standing in the field, helping me out with instructions, and I was only half listening -- the other half was just focusing on my ride. I'd calmed down and was just paying complete attention to what I needed to do.
So we approached the log, my seat and legs firmly on, my hands not hard but not allowing any deviation either, and I gave her a firm leg aid to keep going forward, dammit! And we jumped the log perfectly. TD said later that she saw Rev thinking about ducking out again, but that I'd ridden it correctly and given her no choice but to go over it -- and after that, Rev was much more committed to my ride and to jumping the rest of the course. Hallelujah!
The rest of the course went like clockwork, even the water, and I was so, so proud of myself for it. I was proud of Reveille, too, for working with me, but I was more proud of myself for just doing it in the first place, even though I was hurting and scared - and in the second place, for doing the course well and successfully. I are teh brave. :)
MT talked to me after the ride too, wanting to know how it went, and I was proud to say it'd gone awesomely. I explained where I was with it, and I explained what I'd realized as I put Rev up: the answer to "Why shouldn't I be scared?" is "Because even if you have a problem, you're going to ride through it." MT was pleased with me, and I was too. :)
I think I'll remember that answer now. Even though I have a problem, I can ride through it. And I did, and I did.