Custom blog header by Bre!

In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Sunday, July 12, 2009

ENYDCTA/Old Chatham H.T. 7/12/09

Well... it all had to come crashing down spectacularly at SOME point, didn't it? I had the very negative thought perpetually nagging me that how on EARTH could this good luck hold? Well, it couldn't. Today ended our winning streak with a very bruised ego and a broken finger (the middle one, ironically). I was denied my Area Championship for the SECOND year in a row due to an early complete fail on XC. Just like last year. I shoulda known!

So last year at Areas, our winning streak ALSO came to an end when we had a really wild runout to the left on XC, right? Of course I had that thought nagging me this entire time, and who knows? Maybe I had that negative energy in me and she picked up on it. I've been feeling horrible all week, totally unprepared for this and unable to focus. Nothing about it felt right... that should have been my first clue. I tried as hard as I could to stay positive, but I just felt weird all week. The day began this morning with a 4am start, and I should have known something was amiss when we didn't even make it out of the driveway without hearing a large CRACK! coming from the trailer. As it turned out, the chains suspending one of my swaybars from the hitch SNAPPED on the right side... no really, one of the steel links popped like they it was made of paper. So weird. And that also meant we had to trailer there without my swaybars, something I've never done long distance. I didn't like it one bit. When we got there at 6:30am, we re-walked half of the XC, but didn't really go look at fences one through four again. I felt that once we got to fence five and beyond, we'd probably have trouble, so I prepared myself for it. (This will come into play later). We had a LOVELY dressage test - perhaps the best one all season - but our judge was a notorious I-only-like-unnaturally-forward-tests kind of guy, so he scored my completely rhythmic and relaxed test poorly. Now, remember the video from the other day when Gogo was just lazing around? She was at least twice that forward in this test. I felt pretty good about it. He did not, and we were in 4th out of 23 with a 34.7. Okay, I suppose, but not the score I expected. I was sure we'd break 30, and I am certain that under another judge we would have.

On to XC. Old Chatham is a spooky place. I mean, seriously spooky. I watched maybe nine horses go through the water yesterday and only one of them went through without any penalties. The rest had stops or falls. I saw other riders falling left and right... I don't know what it was about this place, but EVERYONE had trouble. The warmup for XC is below a big hill where everyone goes to sit and watch, and the water complex spreads out below that. Gogo was unbelievably looky the entire warmup, and I was concerned about it. She's not normally that spooky, but there was so much to look at. She jumped all our warmup fences perfectly though, so I figured that she'd be super spooky on course but we could manage. I was anticipating a rough ride, and that's exactly what I had.

Fence one got a good look but we went over it, and she wiggled like crazy to fence two but went again. Fence three was big and looky, and holy CRAP she launched from well over a stride out, leaving a huge amount of space between her and the fence and landing very hard on the other side. We recovered, I told her she was a good girl and we cantered up out of the woods into the big spooky field. We approached fence four, a kind of weird looking wooden thing with some potted plants. We locked on to fence four. We cantered up on our left lead to the base of fence four. We were at the base of fence four, right at the perfect takeoff spot. And suddenly, with absolutely ZERO warning, Gogo did something she's never, ever, ever, ever, ever even REMOTELY suggested that she's had in her before - in an instant, she swapped from her left lead to her right, dropped her shoulder and head down to the dirt, slammed her hind end underneath her, and pivoted 180 degrees on one hind foot in the other direction. THE DIRTIEST STOP EVER. She's never STOPPED before at ALL! Me being COMPLETELY 100 percent off-guard (because I had NO idea she had it in her), was slung off over her left shoulder by sheer inertia, and landed on my feet, right hand still holding the reins. She dragged me a good few steps on my knees before I stopped her (I think she was completly panicked to see me on the ground), and backed her up hard a few steps. And that was that.... elimination. My first elimination at an event... ever. My first fall at an event.... ever. Her first dirty stop..... ever. We didn't even make it to any of the challenges on course at all. All I can say with this new rule of one-and-you're-done is that I hope she didn't learn that she can dump me and then get to go back to the trailer, because that's what happened. I don't think she's that kind of horse though. But then again, I didn't think she was the kind of horse who had a stop in her, much less a filthy dirty one. Wow.

Somewhere between trying to catch myself on her neck and grabbing the reins with my right hand, I broke my middle finger on my right hand. Yep, broke it. Not confirmed by x-rays, but confirmed by the blinding pain and inability to bend it... and the unnatural purple color. It's just the very tip of my finger, perhaps the knuckle (not sure) but that sucks a lot too. It had a big ugly metal splint on it now. At least when people ask me how I did I can flip them off without getting a reprimand for it. Irony has a cruel sense of humor, if you ask me.

So now what? Riga is next week, so I'm hoping she can redeem herself. I feel a very rare sense of it-wasn't-me-it-was-her for this one. I am very quick to blame myself, but as far as I can tell I did nothing wrong. She was very, very naughty and I am very dissapointed. Now, unfortunately, my trust in her has been rattled and I KNOW I'm going to override everything next weekend and for sure at the AECs. I don't know that I can trust her right now to do it on her own anymore. I never expected this. But I can tell you one thing... a horse with sore hocks does NOT put their hind legs that hard underneath themselves. So at least I feel better about that part of it. I feel completely robbed on our dressage test too... it really was a nice test, the nicest I've had this year really.

I felt the tiniest (and I mean tiniest) bit better to find that both of my fellow Novice Championship competitors parked on either side of my trailer were BOTH eliminated on course also, for nasty falls. One of them got pitched into the ditch (the horse actually almost fell into the ditch too) and the other's horse fell on course, studs and all. The ground WAS very turfed and wet, and Gogo scrambled down the hills to the warmup and to the actual course, so perhaps she was worried about the footing herself. She's very weird about those kinds of things... always knows where she's putting her feet. So I dunno. Perhaps the horses knew more than we did.

Honestly? I'm not sure what to think. My hope is that there is redemption at Riga this coming weekend, and I'm sort of glad it's coming up to quick because a) it's a nice, easy, confidence building course and b) it's immediately after this poor performance so it'll be fresh in both our heads, and we can hopefully soothe this horrible insult to our relationship. I was really starting to trust her on course too. Apparently, she still needs her hand held pretty strongly. She is still very green on course, after all, though it's easy to forget. Still, I can't see any reason to have such a horrible, filthy spin like that.

Except for maybe this: she always keeps me completely humble, reminding me every day that she's not doing this because I want her to, but because SHE wants to do it with me. She's a mare, and I can't argue with that, I suppose. Last year at Areas and the AECs, this year at Areas... man. She sure picks the big time shows to really bring out the best of my humility, that's for sure.


Seriously. Mares.



OnTheBit said...

Awwww...I am so sorry to hear that. As the old saying goes, "That's Horses". I think Riga being next week already it will be great, but I am a little worried about you riding with a broken finger. I did it myself just last year (or was it 2 years ago already) and I wish I had not. My stupid ring finger is now permantly crooked. I waited a week to go get the X-rays until the swelling went down and it was clear it would not be straight and I totally wish I hadn't waited to long. Can you ride in a splint? I am sorry to hear about your shitty day and all I can say is onward and upward.

Julie G said...

What a bummer about the fall, but at least it was a fall that didn't leave you seriously injured. I think that Novice is the best level to take your first spill (at a show). You're already hooked on the sport, yet it didn't happen at faster rates, bigger and more technical jumps. Live, learn and continue loving your horse and the sport... Eventing is one of the best things you can do with your horse!!! Better luck to you next weekend! And for the week too!

Anonymous said...

Glad you and the mare are both (relatively) OK. Now about mares - I'm a great fan of mares - they're smart and while they may learn to trust you they also have their own thoughts and opinions, which is as it should be.

Maybe she didn't trust you on course - you were nervous about the course, and then there was the trailer issue, and you weren't completely pleased with your dressage score - she might have, in her sensitive mare way, picked this all up and thought to herself "Uh-oh, better watch out here". And then she thought she saw something, at the last minute, approaching the jump. It wasn't a dirty stop - the only true dirty stops I've seen are from horses who are scared to jump and have been punished repeatedly for it - they hate jumping and are afraid of not jumping so they rush and then stop at the last minute. That's not what happened from your description - she was looky and nervous and it just got worse.

You can give her back her confidence and trust in you - I know from reading about your riding that you can.

Best of luck at the next event! Mares rule!

Albigears said...

I can sympathize with the "finger broken by horses" scenario. I had my 6 week check-up on Mon for my broken finger and have to keep the splint on for another 3 weeks. You can ride in a splint, though- and you'll even be able to hold the reins somewhat normally since it's not your ring finger. Um... not that I would condone riding with a broken finger of course. My doctor thinks I'm doing data entry at work.

I have to agree with Kate, are you sure it was a "dirty" stop? She sounds like she was looky, spooky, and high as a kite. That she switched leads at the last minute is out of the ordinary too. I know you posted a while ago that when you were having a stressful time with her and laughed at something she instantly became relaxed and obedient. Maybe her sensitive self was picking up on all of the stressful energy around the place, and although was trying to please you by jumping just couldn't handle it anymore.

Daun said...

I know somewhat what you are feeling, on a much smaller scale. Brego had two refusals on course at our last show, FIRST refusals on course ever. Over fences we jumped fine last year. A very wise woman (you), told me this:

"You guys did the best you could given the bad situation, and who knows, maybe his instincts knew more about the course than anyone did, and he was trying to protect you both. I personally think he's a hero and I think you are one gustsy rider to stick it out and still be safe at the same time."

You are human and the stress you went through last week, coupled with your very sensitive mare, is enough to unglue even the toughest competitor. So you should celebrate your best dressage test to date, quite an accomplishment considering what you've gone through.

Try to relax, refocus, but do not over think this. Green horses are green horses and although you are something amazing in the saddle, you are not Gina Miles or Becky Holder (yet). Cut both of you some slack to make mistakes and learn from them, that's the only way to get really get good on your way to the top.

Amy B said...

I've been reading for a little while now, and decided to leave a comment about this post. Old Chatam IS a spooky place... that was the place that I had my first ever stop/fall XC on my old mare. She took off a stride early for a training table in the woods, landed on top of it, scrambled off and upon re-presenting she dropped her right shoulder, bolted left and landed me on the fence. Maybe it's just that type of venue. I'm sure you and Gogo will work everything out... she seems like a lovely horse and Riga will be a great place to regain some confidence in one another. Good luck!

Java's Mom said...

I'm sure that Gogo did not mean to dissapoint you, she's a good girl and aside from the late decision to stop and putting you on the ground, it might have been better than what would have happened if she had not stopped (not that I know you or Gogo, but it's obvious that your guys are doing great). TOTALLY deflating though, no doubt!! I hope you are not too mad at her. Good luck going forward, you'll be great!

Anonymous said...

Can you post the video?

Nicku said...

First and foremost I am so glad you both are ok. I was SO excited to log in and read this morning and really feel for you that she stopped on you like that, especially at such an important show. Stick to what you know this weekend and try to trust her. Hopefully that stop was just a one-time blip on what sounds like a course that needs to be re-examined for its safety and level appropriateness if that many people are taking spills. Feel better!

Jana said...

Oh no! I'm so sorry about how the show went, but I have to say - like everyone else who's commented here - that it was probably more about Gogo feeling unsafe than that she has suddenly become untrustworthy. You are an incredible rider and she is an incredible horse. I hope you won't let this stand in the way of your relationship and continued success! Even though you feel disappointed in how you were scored and the disqualification, you are still inspirational to so many of us!

Keep your head up and focus on the incredibly positive aspects of you and Gogo's life together. You have a lot to celebrate! :)

Ambivalent Academic said...

Oh DANG! That is a total bummer. I'm sorry that it ended on such a sour note for you and Gogo. I concur that having a confidence-building event close on it's heels is a very Good Thing.

Don't be too hard on yourself, or Gogo, or your relationship with her. Everyone has lousy days, and it sucks when they coincide with horse shows, but things move on from there. Try to be positive for the next one so she won't feel the need to worry so much on your behalf. Put this one behind you and good luck next weekend.

Anonymous said...

Ouch! So sorry about your poor finger, and so sorry to hear about the stop. I once had a horse with a terrible, dirty stop, so I know what a sickening feeling it is to canter up to something and wonder whether or not you will be landing on the other side together. One thing I will say of my stopper (and, no, I do NOT think Gogo is a stopper - she is a jumper that stopped ONCE) is that he dramatically improved my jumping position and technique. No more jumping ahead - no siree!

Anyway - try to put the actual incident out of your head for the next event and just ride each jump as it comes. You gals are great. One bad jump does not change that.

*Sharon* said...


Lots of good advice here so it doesn't need saying again.
And interesting point about her hocks. I know I wouldn't be looking at any injections now!
Kia kaha.

Alighieri said...

Hey, been following you along on the forums too tonight.

First of all, my condolences on your fall. But yeah, it happens. Just be happy you have a chance to come back right away and rock at Riga (?) in a week...I have to wait a full six weeks to fix my issue from last weekend. What I am choosing to focus on is my horse's dressage test...which also was his best to date. I know you weren't thrilled with your score, but sometimes you just get the short end of the stick. Think about the positive steps you took during the dressage phase this weekend.

And as for your comments on the chronicle forums...I chose to let you know here that through your blog, we do come to know and care about you. I live in Texas, have never met you, and never heard of you before reading your blog, but now I read your blog everyday, I track your results on the show websites, sometimes I try and find photos from the shows. So know that although you may not know us, your readers care about you.

And honestly, I know you have had a crappy week, but it sounds to me like being a working student is starting to burn you out. I know it may not seem like it yet, but this is how it started with me. Because you are in the barn all day, every day, your world becomes focused on horses. This isn't a bad thing...but when you have only one horse, setbacks occur that seem much more devastating to an amateur with one horse than to a professional with twenty. And when you have nothing else to focus on besides horses, it becomes very difficult to focus on anything besides the problems you are having with your horse. The statements you state about no one caring are very familiar to me...I felt that way when I was a working student. And it escalated into clinical depression that only resolved when I removed myself from that situation. So please, please, please, be CAREFUL. I know working with horses every day seems like a good trade off to really be able to focus on training your horse. And it really is, when everything is going well. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, it becomes much more devastating than it normally would be.

Just letting you know that we DO care, and we don't want you to get hurt, physically OR mentally.

STB Eventer said...

Aw man. :( Not what I wanted to read, BUT you know, sh!t happens. Overall it is a good thing neither of you are hurt. Chalk it up to bad luck, try to put it behind you, and focus on what is coming next. I know you don't want to hear it, but someone told me once to "Grieve for 15 minutes and LET IT GO." So hard to do, but good advice. Sometimes we set such high expectations for ourselves and it sounds like you are super hard on yourself, as I am. Mares are wonderful, but do pick up on our moods. :)

Riga will be a good place to regain confidence and have FUN again. Hang in there! :D You are going GREAT! Don't let one bad ride get you down.

Uptown Girl said...

I'm sorry to hear about your finger! I used to ride a horse with that kind of stop and I came off every single time, but your stop seemed to be horse error not pilot error like mine was (my guy wasn't in front of my leg, so he pretty much toyed with me :[). I'm sure things will get better--sometimes you have to hit bottom to remember how good it feels to be at the top.

And since you've mentioned relationship drama, I can totally relate to you there. My fiancee dumped me in a text message cause someone told her it was a good idea. Oh yeah, that's love. >.>