Yep. That’s right. Green Spring was a failure on so many levels. Epic. Really. Failure is not a word that any of us like to hear or use. Human nature tells us, failure is not a good thing. Or is it? Sometimes failure is just what we need to re-evaluate, re-assess, re-group, and just plan move on. Right. So I am telling myself 24hr after the fact. Where to begin…
Well, first there was the cold/allergies all week. I was totally off my normal race week schedule. I didn’t run, I barely rode, barely ate anything all week for that matter. Then there was all the stress from life outside of riding (work, family, Romey, etc). Top that off with a cold day and the races running super late and you have just a bad day. The whole day was an emotional roller coaster.
I went from being totally geared up and ready to race, to practically crying and wanting to go home. The fact of the matter is that having to put Romey down affected me in a way I didn’t anticipate… Jack was now my only horse and I was about to ask him to jump a 3 mile course with most of the fences around 3’6” at seriously fast speeds. And all of a sudden, I was scared of breaking my only horse. I totally lost it. And why am I admitting this to all of my students who may be reading this? Because even us coaches/trainers have bad days. It is natural. But it is how we handle the bad days that define us.
So what did I do? I cried in the dressing room, then told myself I was being stupid and to just get on my horse. Tacked him up, got dressed, got pissed at my vest for not zipping up, thus making me late. Jumped on Jack, jogged across the field and up to the start line… well almost.
The rest of the people in my race had gone up to the start early so Jack and I were heading up there on our own. When we got to the top of the hill, you had to go past the grand stand (Founder’s Hill) with all the people cheering and waving and all the banners and photographers and outriders, etc just to get to the start line. Jack flipped out. Literally, almost fell over backwards.
A friend tried to give me a lead, then the outriders flanked him and tried to help push him toward the start. Then another outrider tried to pony him over there. And all he kept doing was going backwards or sidewards or upwards. His few attempts at upwards ended in me spinning him fairly quickly. They even told me to skip the start and the whole field of riders trotted right past us with the outriders telling me to just have him fall into line. That didn’t work since as they got closer, Jack just went backwards again, this time almost flipping over the guard rail.
Sam, the Green Spring huntsman, blocked him from really getting too far and offered to give me a lead to the first jump (the race had already started at this point). That didn’t work either. After another near miss of the guard rail I just told them I was taking him home. Sam helped lead me off the course and his last words to me as Jack was showing the cheering crowd his most amazing extended trot were “that horse needs to be an event horse!”
I my head I was thinking “could this get any worse” but I just smiled, thanked Sam and continued our extended trot back to the trailers. Once over there, I did a little flat work with Jack just to get him back in front of my leg. He eventually settled down and I got off. And we went home.
I have to admit, I should have gotten pissed and spanked him repeatedly with my crop. But to be honest, I just wasn’t into the whole racing thing that day. And you know what? That is ok. I’m ok with that. It is ok. Life goes on. Yes, it was embarrassing. Yes, I’ve had to spend the last 24 hours explaining to people what happened, but when it all comes down to it, we just had a bad day. And that is totally ok.