Sunday, November 20, 2011

Retired at the Ocala Horse Properties


   "You made the right decision" was the txt from the owner of the horse my eventer rides. There it was, just what she needed to hear...cannonball reload! It was a nice solid shot, BAM! she fought back all the emerging doubt, unwanted difficulties and screeching skepticism that comes with an "R" on their record. "R" means retired on course and when in uncertainty, probably is always the right thing to do.
     The Ocala Horse Properties (we all still call it the Florida Horse Park) Horse Trials scrunched all three phases into one jam packed day.  We arrived the day before giving us ample time to walk the course two times, clean tack and set up a tent. Yes, we assembled the 4 man, it's called eventing on a budget. "Can you sleep?" my rider asked. Oh crap, here we go tossing and turning all night. Shuteye was nowhere to be found. In the car, out of the car, in the tent, out of the tent, her search continued. She settled for the fetal position crammed on the back seat. Groggy and compressed however, happy without worry because there was plenty of time. I would have to say, that mare's perfectly weaved in button braids were proof, that everything was going well. Then there were the smiles from the breakfast sandwich, confirmation of wellness. Can you picture that toasted egg + bacon saying cheese?
     Her dressage score was respectable, laying them a foundation of a 37.7  which fastened them into seventh position. Braids were kept in, since show jumping was next. Considering what had happened at the last show, them getting through this was absolutely necessary! She rode with confidence clearing every jump, only dropped the final one. Lastly, they still needed to run across the country and clear twenty-two jumps. Looking ready, my pair rushed over to warm-up and at the first little coupe, she seemed to almost stop. Then the next jump... definitely a mother's "WHAT THE?"  Bunny hopped it. Yikes, I could see her slightly start to panic. A couple more unfavored jumps then the start box judge yelled "YOU'VE GOT 20 SECONDS!"  Off they went into the box, out towards their first jump. I could see the hesitation, they jumped it. Second question needed coaxing. They barely scraped over the third. Forth jump, the mare refused, with a cleared second attempt. Rider felt like, this quarter horse had run out of gas. She was sleep running! They came up to the fifth jump, pony acted squirrelly, rider pulled up while raising her hand. That was enough, it was all too rough.
     I was proud of my cautious rider, even though at that moment she wasn't feeling very proud. No need to risk anything if it didn't feel right.  Thank goodness for the text from the owner, she turned her frown upside down.

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I hold my breath and hang on tight, every time they gallop across the country. Mother of an EVENTER