Our three enteries into one of ES's latest ESRPG show, the Kendall County Spring Horse Show.
All three of our equines placed, two coming fourth and one sixth.
For me, that last thing I wanted was to ride. It had already been a rough morning. I didn’t need this.
Rosa Laqrosta, my younger sister, was helping at the scene before me. When I came, all I saw was an old blue horse float, a beaten-up Jeep and my Stallion, Iridescent’s Sttardom, with a rather upset look on his face.
“Rosa…” I asked, my voice thick with worry and emotion, “What’s happened?”
Rosa turned and gave me a weak smile. That was when I knew we’d been lucky. Something bad had happened.
“It’s… a long story.” She told me slowly. “Lexie was driving, when all of a sudden this guy on his motorcycle just sped past her at full speed. It gave her a fright, so she stopped. At least, she tried too.
“When she went to slam her foot down on the brake, instead her foot hit the accelerator. They went real fast before slamming into a tree. The trailer was flung to the side, but somehow Oakie (as we call him) stayed fine.” Rosa looked at me, her face etched with deep lines of worry and concern. I hoped I didn’t look as old as her right now. Even though she’s only nineteen, she sometimes looks 40. “Lexie’s fine, and so is Oakie, but it was a real close call. We were lucky they got out scott-free.”
I nodded and breathed deeply. I had no idea how lucky I was.
And that was my morning.
I was shaken up, Rosa was shaken up, Lexie was shaken up, and Oakie too. But I couldn’t afford Oakie to be like this. He needed to bring his A-game today.
Eventually, we’d called another truck to come pick us up and Oakie, my little champ, loaded on there without worry. We only arrived 25 minutes later than planned – not bad for a possibly horrific situation.
It was my time for me to enter for my round on Oakie.
He’d recovered well, thank god, and was ready to go. Almost too ready, if you get what I mean.
We trotted in confidently. As the loudspeaker boomed approval, we picked up an elegant, flowing canter. From somewhere in the distance a mare whinnied, no doubt looking for her friend, but this gave Oakie the idea that ladies were chasing him. He swerved left, trying to find his woman, while I swerved right. He pulled against me, and desperately I fought with the reins; fighting with him was so hard. He continued to battle with me. Even though it was mere seconds and the round hadn’t even started, it felt like a war that went for eternity. Except, my solider were being slaughtered by the immense force of Oakie wanted to see his ladies.
But, somehow, the forces of Oakie collapsed under my pressure. The horse reluctantly obeyed my command, and after feeling like I was going to fall off before my round even started he cantered to the right. Gracefully moving between the start flags to start our Show Jumping round.
Later, I went and told Kylie this. She laughed and told me she knew why this had happened – why he’d suddenly given into me, while usually there was no way in heck he would’ve given in.
Kylie showed me and picture of a dapple grey mare who happened to be the one that called out. It was LREC Manatiza, one of Oakie’s fave mares. And, next to her, was a large golden stallion with rich, red mane.
The stallion was LREC Navajoe’s Tribe.
Kylie smiled when she saw my reaction. “That’s right,” she said, “Oakie obeyed you because a different man bet him to his own lady.”
Long story short, Lexie Qualls who was supposed to ride this horse was in a car crash with our Stallion, Oakie, and was too shaken-up to compete.
So, naturally, they must choose someone to throw under the bus. And, that someone is me.
It sucks, but these things happen. It’s all about how you react to these things and get yourself under control. Like, I’m usually that girl that freaks out because she’s lost something stupid and un-important and then she yells at her Mum to look and her Mum finds it within two seconds. But, today, it was different. I wanted to prove to myself that I was stronger than that.
VAL/LREC Leaucrutz is a… ‘temperamental’ young stallion. But, apparently, Lexie likes him this way. Why this is – I honestly have no clue. It’s like he’s a girl. He’s constantly having mood changes and issues.
So, he’s me. Basically.
I rode the stallion up to the front of the huge sand-based arena, watching the rider before me fly over all the obstacles. The horse looked like it was worth a million dollars. You could see the money dripping off of it.
Not literally, of course – metaphorically.
If I had a horse that dripped money – heck, it would be staying in my bedroom.
Lexie walked up to me. She looked like nothing had happened to her recently, just your normal sporty, cute chick coming to say hi to me. She was very good at covering up her emotions. Heck, she could die inside and nobody would know. No one would know that she was just in a massive car-crash.
“How’re you feeling?” She asked me. I tried to give her an encouraging smile, but I knew it just looked like Mum had given me something I hated for dinner but I didn’t want to act like a brat. Apparently, my prediction was spot-on, because Lexie sighed and shook her head.
“Listen, Rosa,” she said, “he’s different. Different to the types of horses you prefer riding, like Skye or Pipi. You must use a lot more voice, be a lot gentler, and feel like he’s human. If you do all that, he’ll be perfect.”
I must’ve looked unconvinced or something because Lexie threw back her head and laughed. “Honestly, Rosa, you’re so funny! But, seriously, you’ll be fine. And don’t look at me like that!” She added, smirking at me. I tried to make myself look more convinced and happy.
Inside, I wasn’t. Not really.
Then, the bell rung. I jumped in surprise and turned to see. Unexpectedly, the rider had fallen off and her million-dollar-steed was galloping around like a lunatic. Sort of worrying since this arena doesn’t have a proper fence, just a small 30cm barrier around the edges.
Paramedic’s rushed into the arena, checking the rider. She wasn’t moving. Within seconds she was on a stretcher and being rushed towards the ambulance parked by the side of the arena.
Well. That wasn’t exactly making me feel any more confident.
It was my turn to go in. I hoped the huge bay stallion would be alright. I hoped Lexie’s advice would help.
I hoped I wouldn’t have the same fate as the rider before me.
It was going perfect until that one jump.
EHS Sniper, or Nugget as he is affectionately known at home, was cantering along with a brisk pace. After my ride with VAL/LREC Leaucrutz, and how great it went, I was a little cocky with this one. This gelding and I had competed and successfully placed in so many events, this was to be a breeze. A non-competitive atmosphere, simple jumps, and a nice temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. For me, and him, it was perfect conditions. I hated competing in summer. It was too humid, sticky – and, since we live in New Zealand and this was based in USA, our conditions were very different. NZ is a tropical country, whereas USA… well, its ‘not’. I’m sure you know. Our seasons are different, so if we were to be training in NZ Winter and then go over and compete in a USA Summer… Well, long story short; our horses are going to die.
The sand was covered in pebbles thrown loose from other horses picking them up in their shoes, before them being thrown loose. Even when I was cantering around, I could still smell the fresh, crisp air wafting down from the snowy Colorado mountain tops. I was relieved the weather had cleared by this afternoon; it was looking pretty glum, like it could possibly rain. Nugget is a legend, however, and will jump his heart out no matter what.
“C’mon boy, please – just the last few, please?” I asked Nugget as he violently pounded the ground beneath me. I could feel his impulse slackening, his energy slipping away into a dark abyss. But I needed that energy, that courage, that passion; I needed him for the last few fences. I knew our warm up had been too long. I knew something wasn’t right.
Thankfully, Nugget responded. He increased his stride, bounding along like an energetic brown dog. Gratefully, I thought I didn’t need to support him as much now. Just let him do his own thing.
Yeah. I was that stupid.
Around the corner, approaching the double which was to be our final fence, he lost his impulsion. He slowed right down. However, I was so ‘relaxed’ right now that I didn’t think anything of it. I let him go, let him canter along. I actually feel my mind slipping away from the task at hand, and into a different world.
I know he’s always wobbly coming up to jumps. I’ve known that since the first ride I had on him.
But I didn’t try to keep him straight.
And, in less than a second, it happened.
His head rotated to the left slightly. His neck reluctantly followed this motion, along with his chest and front legs. His hind-quarters twisted to the right, and twisted him around. He turned violently, away from the fence. His mane flung into my face, whipping me harshly, as I collided with his neck. I could already feel my legs slipping from the stirrups, stirrup leathers flying and I saw myself beginning the descent to the ground. The sand never looked less-inviting.
I was waiting impatiently for my back to collide to the ground. I was waiting for the air to claw my lungs, fighting it’s way out while it got it’s chance, and never return again. But it never happened.
What did happen was sharp pain, like violent daggers, pierced through my boots and into my foot.
I’d landed on my feet.
Nugget got such a fright he leapt from me – crashing into the poles of the jump. His hindquarters skated along the back of the pole, the right side crashing down. I didn’t let go of the reins, I was determined to hang on.
Dimly in the distance I heard the bell ring. We were eliminated. I sighed and looked down. Nugget had calmed down, but was still a little frightened.
“Come on, bud.” I said softly, leading him out with a defeating look upon my face. “Better luck next time?”
And that's about it. Thanks for looking round!