A 40-Day Crash Course in Eventing: Squeezing Calves = Speed

Welcome to A 40-Day Crash Course in Eventing: A Prelim Mom’s Journey to Starter. I would like to invite you to follow along as I attempt to ride in my first … and only event, Jump Start Horse Trials in Lexington, KY. Sit down, pour a glass of wine (enjoy an extra one for me as I have all but given it up) and watch it unfold. Will I make it? Who knows! Should I even be attempting this? Who cares! There are no baby steps to be taken as we are short on time, but my not so trusty steed and I are taking it day by day. Come along for the ride!

September 12, 2017

I didn’t want to ride today. Thanks to my granddaughter, I was battling a daycare stomach bug. But I knew it had to be done as I have worked on the jumping components with Erika but not dressage. I am choosing my days very deliberately now. After this lesson, I will only have time to fine tune what has been taught and hope for the best.

Battling waves of nauseousness, Romeo and I headed to Merry Hour. We had a lengthy walking warm-up as to save the stomach bouncing for my lesson! I rode the test for Erika. Hopefully, we will have time in the next two weeks to work on connection and bend but for now it was all about accuracy; when to ask for transitions, how to aim at letters, the judges vantage point and those darn circles. Or in may case, ovals.

We broke the test down and worked on making the circles round and using the corners. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. It was a good lesson, leaving me with lots to lay awake at night and memorize. Erika asked me to ride it one more time using all of my new tools.

Nailed the centerline, circles not so egg like, got the correct lead on canter. Yippee!  We were almost done. Canter down the side, downward transition to trot and then a walk. Wait…WHAT IS HAPPENING???  Romeo was getting faster and faster! We went reeling around the corner toward the judge’s box (Erika). Trot!!! Trot!!! What the hell, Romeo??? I quickly run through my checklist. Oh crap! Squeeze with thighs to slow him down, not calves. Damn it! Having turned my brain on autopilot, I quit thinking about each move. Things were going so well.

Erika:  What was that?

Me: Curse, curse, curse! I was squeezing with my calves, not my thighs.

Erika gave a small grin and a shake of her head. Calves = speed. Grrrrrrr. Stupid, stupid, stupid mistake! I picked up where we left off and other than that sudden bolt of speed instead of a downward transition; it wasn’t a half bad test.

We made it back home before serious stomach issues overtook me. I am looking forward to the schooling show this Saturday. I received a funny phone call this week from the show organizer asking why don’t you just jump the Beginner Novice course? Because I don’t want to die! I explained the situation at Jump Start. The dressage test is a higher level than the jumping components. My brain is too overloaded and old to mess with memorizing two tests. “You won’t qualify for a ribbon but we can do it.” Well, OK. I’m sure it would have been a blue one! Ha!