I had many goals for my year abroad. Goals for personal development, goals for places to go and see, and goals for my riding. I wanted to become a better horse person, and a better rider. One specific goal I set for myself was that I wanted to improve to the point where I was capable of riding at the Preliminary level. (Australians, that’s our Novice level). Given that I hadn’t even completed an event at the lower levels yet, it must have seemed like a bit of a long shot. I certainly got that impression from my coach. But as with most people, the more you get the impression you’re being discouraged from doing something, the more determined you are to do it. And yesterday my determination paid off. It’s over the past few weeks that I have become more and more in tune with all of the Rock’s buttons and quirks. In short – I’ve finally worked out how to put my leg on to the base of a jump, and as a result, we’ve been schooling bigger and bigger fences, to the point where we jumped a small Preliminary course. And yesterday came the icing on the cake. We went to an amazing cross-country course up at Gibbes Farm, and ended up schooling over a whole bunch of Preliminary fences. “Get out of the saddle!” my coach called to me after I started over the first fence. “It’s not dressage!” So out of the saddle I got, and after that there was no stopping us. Coffins, banks, drops into water, and plenty of combinations later, the five of us started our leisurely walk back to the trailer in good spirits, and it wasn’t until then that my coach pointed something out to me. “You know,” she said, “you achieved your goal today. You got to ride Prelim.” In the few seconds that followed, the realisation of what she had said started to sink in. I had achieved my goal. I had ridden around a bunch of these jumps, jumped them well, and had the time of my life doing it. I will freely admit I got a little teary, and was overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing horse that has made it all possible for me. The Rock had the time of her life jumping around, and that just made it all the more enjoyable. Unfortunately, for all those interested, there are no photos, and no videos, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
The Sweetie was piloted around her second cross-country school by a client, and conducted herself exceptionally. Everyone in our group rode brilliantly after being challenged with some difficult fences and we had a fantastic time on such a beautiful course. It’s days like this that make me never want to leave. Even getting lost on the interstate after stopping for lunch was an adventure with the right company. But if my gap year has taught me anything, it’s the importance of getting out of your comfort zone. Just like getting out of the saddle, it puts you in a position where you’re capable of meeting your challenges head-on, and well-equipped for the ride. Of course, it helps if you have a partner that’s as amazing as the Rock. To her goes the biggest thank you.
Lastly, this weekend I am chasing another goal – to complete an event! Wish us luck as we tackle Full Gallop Farm Horse Trials on Sunday 🙂