A while back I had asked the owner of The Ginger Wonder Horse if she would ever have an indoor school.
She looked at me and then stated rather vehemently;
Tahnee, we are EVENTERS.
The sport of eventing is like a triathlon in that it has 3 stages, the poetic dressage (when done well) the precision of show-jumping and the exhilarating cross-country phase. It is incredibly demanding and requires one to be a bit of a bad-ass + adrenaline junkie. Eventing is a sport in which all elements must be faced and met with determination + grit, all in partnership with a horse.
This is why I love it. Outside in nature with one of nature's most beautiful animals. Frankly, nothing beats being on a beautiful estate with gorgeous landscape and watching galloping horses go by at speed. It is simply awesome; even better when the sun is shining and a glass of pimms is in hand.
This week, I have been battling a small dose of SADS, that damn seasonal affectional disorder that arrives during dark dreary days of winter and creates a sense of lethargy, disengagement and lack of motivation. To survive in Canada during winters of -30c, I had a sunlight lamp, drank a small glass of wine almost every night (to relax)and ingested vitamin D. There might have been a morning or two where I started the day with baileys and coffee. Just sayin.
With all phases of eventing being completed outside, logic stands that one might also train outside. This is is fantastic when the weather is balmy and beautiful but when the reality is pissing rain, one has a head-cold and feeling rather unmotivated, enthusiasm can be hard to muster up. The preference is obviously cake and tea. At home. In bed. With blankets. And Jilly Cooper.
When it came to having a lesson in the pouring rain, there is no no. There was only a get on with it and time to ramp it up attitude. With the rain starting to bucket down and SADS trying to cling to me like an old boyfriend dumped who doesn't take the hint, we embarked on our first lesson in well over 6 weeks.
The rain did not hold back. This is England after all, it had to put a good appearance in for the Queen I imagine.
We warmed up. It poured. We WORKED. EVERY. STRIDE till I was red in the face and huffing and puffing. We shortened the slippery reins (raining remember), we legged on and any lingering remnants of SADS got kicked out the back door.
Then we jumped.
It still poured. We jumped some more. The school was turning into a lake and I was turning into a steam bath. We added some height to the jumps and changed the direction.
The rain never let up.
I was screaming in my head "WE ARE EVENTERS". The rain continued to pour.
Each time we took canter to the jumps I kept reminding myself "I LOVE THIS". And still the rain.
I love eventing, I really do but I am a bit of a self-proclaimed wimpy pants; add some crap weather, low energy and a dodgy hip, leg and shoulder and given half a chance I will talk myself out of riding. Yet, I love riding. Weird I know.
When I started my lessons last year the owner I made a pack with myself that I wasn't going to entertain any negative thoughts. NONE. I promised myself I would never say no to what was being asked of me.
I'm doing this for a purpose greater then myself so I can't allow limited thoughts and belief interfere with my Wobbleberry Challenge.
*disclaimer. The owner's top priorities are both safety and well-being for horse and rider. Everything we do has that at the absolute forefront so I feel 100% safe with what she asks of me.
A strong mind-set is paramount. It is a tough muscle to build. Decades of a yoga practice has helped considerably with understanding this process; the great gift of yoga is that it develops mind focus and control. You learn over time to recognize the difference in your thought patterns and voices and learn how to control them. My yoga practice has finally given me scope to refuse any negatives 'stops' that attempt to come into my head.
And you know what? It's really working!!!
When the owner/trainer finished the lesson with "Right. Pick up right canter and head over that jump"
I didn't hesitate. There was no no. THAT jump is the skinny of which we had not attempted that day. That skinny is the one where I have this weird panic that my leg is going to somehow come off but I set my lips (like this helps) and we picked up our canter to the jump. After we cleared it, the words that were sweet music to my ears "that was a good 90cm, well done."
Although I was soaked to the bone, it was a brilliant lesson in what real eventers experience. It might rain the day we go to compete. I felt my own eventing muscle get stronger through that process and my confidence in my riding ability growing. Big thanks to The Ginger's owner for making sure we had the lesson (I did ho hum about the weather if I'm totally honest); without her encouraging us, our dream to complete in an 80T wouldn't be the reality it is and I wouldn't be crushing some of the smaller goals I have. 90cm!! Woo!
Next week. Spurs. Eeks!