This weekend started off with an early morning haul out on Friday from home base in Wimberley, and included an obligatory stop at Buccee's for fuel of the truck and human variety. I'm fairly new to the Austin Eventing team, so I'm still blown away by what a well oiled machine the process is of getting 5 horses and all the gear off the property. Probably the most important lesson I am learning by going to horse shows with the team is that success starts at home in the daily routine. Excellence is not just the end result, but the method.
We get to MCP successfully, meet up with the satellite branches of AE, and were immediately shocked to find a core member of the team didn't have such a great ride over due to an unfortunate trailer malfunction. So without any hesitation, back on the trailer and to the vet went Lisa and horse and horse's concerned mama. I'm a big believer in the concept that teams are brought closer together through times of struggle, and when there is work that needs to be done and horses that need extra care, without question, through of Lisa's example the AE team comes together to get that work done and the horses taken care of.
Without the direction of our fearless leader, the unpacking commenced and before we knew it, we had a home away from home set up, horses were happily munching hay, Lisa and the broken dragon were back with good news, and the weekend festivities were to commence.
Something to remember: Everybody Simple-Jacks at a horse show.
When I've blacked out and forgotten simple instructions to go stand in the shade because it's 90 degrees with no cloud cover and I suddenly find my horse bolting sideways back towards the group (see beginning of this sentence) I have to remember that I do this for fun. Riding horses is not my day job, but it's the reason I keep my day job - and finally gaining confidence and control of my emotions (because complete control of your horse is an illusion) it's easy to remember that the joy of galloping across the gorgeous landscape of MCP is what makes it all worth it. That confidence of course comes partly from Lisa, who, after reminding me of the simple instructions of standing in the shade, fetches me for my turn of tortur...I mean jumping...says stop thinking and go canter around the gator, and partly from developing a rhythm. Sometimes when I'm really freaked out or my nerves are getting the best of me, I start to sing, and it helps me a lot. It at least keeps me from sending electricity from my racing heart through my arms and into my horse's mouth.
Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up, it's jumping time!
My pony truly is a gem for putting up with me an my antics. Actually, it's up for debate as to who is more of the gem, Tika or Lisa...but I digress.
Glorious, glorious cloud cover finally came over the landscape, or the sun started to set, but either way the day cooled off and a successful cross country school or dressage ride was had by all and everyone settled in for the night, ready for dressage in the morning.
Saturday: Dressage Day.
Dressage is a really funny thing - it's the foundation upon which we build our training, and yet it is simultaneously an unattainable concept of the perfecting Fierce Relaxation. As a recovering straight dressage rider, I love the eventing perspective on dressage: if you stayed on and stayed in the ring and remembered your test well enough to have the appearance of knowing what you are doing, and your horse cooperated enough to really drive home the appearance of knowing what you are doing, then you a golden and you're cleared to go do what we all came here to do - JUMP! ALL! THE! THINGS!
All jokes aside, everyone had a fantastic dressage ride and went home with constructive feedback.
After lots of water and food and rest for both equines and homo sapiens, we exchanged our tiaras for XC tack and once more ventured out into the field to gallop away the stressage.
Second day out on XC proved to be a really great experience for Tika and me. With the pressure of the show subsided, we both came out with our game faces, ready to try some new jumps. Lisa has a way of tracking your eyes to see which fences you even glance at, in your peripheral, or think about, which means that when she starts to put together exercises, she'll throw in that beginner novice fence that you saw next to your starter fence that you rocked yesterday. It may not have been our prettiest jump, but there's nothing the afterglow of conquering an intimidating fence, even if you just got volun-told to gallop at it. All in all, the fruits of our labor showed this weekend on XC, the blood, sweat, and tears proved worth it and for the first time ever, I felt like a true eventer!
Dressage Day came to a close the way every day comes to a close, fooooooooooooood. And a late night trip to the gas station for more ice. Because Texas. Ice cream may or may not have also been involved.
Sunday: Stadium and Yoga Day!
I wish every day could start the way Sunday started. A sweet yoga practice on the pavilion, overlooking the dressage arena with the sun rising over the tree-line in the distance. A gentle reminder that breath can bring us back into our bodies when our nervous lizard brains try desperately to convince us that death is near. It usually is not, we are just lacking oxygen in those moments.
We rode the wave of Saturday's XC school into stadium complete with game face on, torso up, and more leg. The perfectionist in me wants to go back and fix the moments I felt all over the place, but I just have to accept that this is my second show, and again, everyone Simple Jacks at the horse show. Overall, all rails stayed up, I got each lead, had a fairly consistent canter, and got to hear the coveted YEAH KAYT! from Lisa after the last fence. Success!
When all was said and done, I packed up to go home and never made it back to the office check my placing. There's a picture of the final score somewhere on someone's phone, but I was so blissed out after four amazing rides over the course of the weekend that a ribbon would just be gilding the lili.