A Letter, Not A Number

After my husband’s round, I had a bit of time to get ready for Stadium. My goal was to get on with as little time as possible for warm up. Unfortunately, the delay in Stadium had only increased and when I got on and checked in at the warm up ring, I was told I was still at least 30 minutes out. I immediately got off. I went and watched one of Kate’s kids ride in the junior BN group and then left to go sit in the shade.

Sitting in the shade, waiting for an endlessly delayed division, I had too much time to think. My primary thought? I don’t want to do this. I didn’t feel like there was any possible way the round could go well. I figured the possible outcomes – in order of likelihood – were: fall off, nearly fall off, have enough refusals to be eliminated, somehow not get eliminated but wiggle around the course alternating between frantic dashing and last minute skidding and chipping while crashing through poles in a perfect demonstration of why we shouldn’t be competing at this level. There was no version in which it went well: no possible positive outcome.

My husband soon joined me and I told him I didn’t want to do this. He tried to convince me I should try, but I wasn’t moving.The ring steward came over to tell me I was a few out, but I still didn’t get up. My husband went off to get Kate who also tried to convince me to get on. Even Megan joined in trying to get me to ride the damned horse. My time came and went and still I sat. I finally agreed to get on Levi and do some warm up. I’m pretty sure they all thought if they could just get me on, I would do a few warm up jumps, calm down, and then I’d agree to go do my round. Well, they underestimated Levi’s determination to be as annoying as possible.

We picked up a nice, forward canter and approached a 1′ crossrail. I kept my leg on, didn’t pull on his mouth or lean or do anything to mess him up, got the correct distance, and he chose to chip in. It was a 1′ crossrail. It was so small, he could have jumped it from 10 feet away; he certainly didn’t need to add from the right distance. The completely unnecessary chipping in and subsequent awkward heave up over the jump is what’s bouncing me out of the tack and what has nearly caused me to fall off at our last 2 events. If he couldn’t even jump a tiny crossrail without trying to kill me, there was no way I was doing a full BN course.

I pulled him up, walked out of the arena, and told the stewards I was withdrawing.

And that’s how we ended on a letter instead of a number.

22 thoughts on “A Letter, Not A Number

    1. Olivia Post author

      It seemed like the thing to do at the time. I do look back and think I probably should have just gone in and tried to do something, but logical me and in the moment at a horse show me are not the same person.

  1. Stacie Seidman

    I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time with Levi. I hope you figure things out soon. Sometimes I think it’s smart to opt out than risk getting hurt. If you don’t think any good will come from going in that ring, you’re going to make the bad happen. Maybe take some time away from competing and get some lessons together. Build your confidence back up.
    Hang in there! Things will get better!

    1. Olivia Post author

      Lessons aren’t helping much either right now, but I am taking a step back to a level I’m more comfortable at.

  2. Teresa

    Given how you were feeling I think that you made a good decision. Of course it doesn’t matter what I think- it matters what you think. I am sorry that you hit this wall. I recognize how you feel- it sounds very similar to my emotions at the time I threw in the towel.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Thanks. It’s good to hear that others have gone through something similar. I’m hoping to find a solution when we move.

  3. Elizabeth

    Oh geez. I am sorry things have become not so fun any longer. Every time I see you post something, I think, this will be when she has a breakthrough and things get better with Levi! 🙁 It sounds like you made the right decision and that is what is important. I was going to write just what Stacie did, that maybe some low pressure pleasure riding/lessoning would be a good break from competing to build both of your confidence back up. I wish there was an easy answer. *hugs*

    1. Olivia Post author

      I’m taking a step back to an easier level to regain some confidence, but the long-term solution is that Levi needs to go to a jumping trainer for a few months. Given that we’re moving soon, I’m going to wait to figure that out.

        1. Olivia Post author

          Haven’t moved anywhere yet, but I will be looking at properties again soon. Maine is still on the short list, but I haven’t seen any properties I really like in the Portland area.

  4. Sarah (threechestnuts)

    Honestly? I know people say that you’ll feel so much better doing something that scares you, but I don’t feel that way. I’d rather do less confidently than more scared? There is nothing wrong with stepping back, doing that until you are bored and 100% confident and THEN moving up (and sending Levi to a jump trainer may give both of you confidence too). And maybe jump lessons on a steady eddy in the interim wouldn’t hurt either? Sometimes re-wiring the brain to remind yourself that, right, I do know what I’m doing can do wonders. I really needed that after deciding that it wasn’t worth/safe jumping Batts anymore (my confidence was shot). It really helped me find the fun again.

    1. Olivia Post author

      That’s basically my plan once we move. To get him to a trainer and do some lessons on a trainer’s horse to get my own confidence back.

  5. Saiph

    I second what Sarah said above re: not doing something that scares you. The jump trainer and lessons on a steady Eddy once you move are a great idea!

    I went through a similar thing when I used to jump. He wasn’t even my horse: I got pressured by my trainer to lease a very fancy horse that was way way too much for me. He was a push ride: I was used to pull rides. This description of your entire show gave me some pretty harsh flashbacks of my last show on that horse…I went into the arena ready to puke from nerves and terror. I was petrified with fear because I could not see any positive outcome of our going into that arena. Not surprisingly, we were eliminated at the third fence. I stuck that particular horse out way too long before I decided to call it quits on him. It took a year for me to get my confidence back. To this day, some 20+ years later, I can’t ride push rides over fences and I’ve never been able to train horses to jump again. Hence the switch in disciplines and the reason why my naturally talented push-ride TB mare has never been truly trained over fences.

    *Not* saying this will happen to you! Just that I’ve been there too. ❤️ And I know how you feel! And it really should be fun first. You shouldn’t have to stick something out that frightens you in the hopes that it will get better. Definitely nothing wrong with stepping back to something easier to build your confidence back up. 😊 Rooting for you here, and hoping you can find a solution after your move!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I’m also a pull rider. If I have to push it’s not gonna go well. I think the intro levels should help me calm down for a bit and then I can find some more training once I move. I also keep hoping Nilla will return to usefullness and then I could ride her again. She’s much more my style of ride than Levi.

  6. Cathryn

    I think you did the right thing – if your head wasn’t in it and you didn’t really *want* to do it, don’t push yourself. It would just make things 10x worse and frustrating in the grand scheme of things. At risk of telling you what to do (think of it as caring advice? lol), are you able to maybe get some jumping lessons to help you with Levi and his antics? He just might need more miles and more consistency <3 Hugs to you tho, it's frustrating.

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