The show has gone well. Yesterday not as well as Thursday, but solid rides for Mick and Lauren. Today, they headed into the 1.0 meter (approximately 3’1″) division called the “Low Adults”. This is the division she will ride in the finals coming up in three weeks. Lauren has traditionally had issues with this division. They have successfully jumped 3’6″ inch courses for the last four years. But when we go into the division and call it “the Lows” something psychologically comes over Lauren and she does not do as well.
Today maybe five jumps into the course, Mickey refused. He stopped and Lauren went off hard into the jump. We have done this scene multiple times in the past. Lauren came out of the ring, angry and embarrassed. She was mad at Mickey but it was her approach to the jump that made him stop. At this height, she needs to set up him for each jump or he is not going.
Lauren wanted to quit. She said she was so tired and Mickey was worn out. Probably so. I told her that was fine but we would not come back to ride finals. She needed to go back in the ring and try the 1.0 meter class again. We could not give up, then come back in three weeks and think she was going be successful. She did not like my answer. Her trainer gave her some tough love. He told her if she rode well, Mickey would jump well. Neither Dev or I were giving her an easy way out.
To the degree I can understand this as I have never faced a three-foot jump, I get that galloping at high-speed toward a solid object on the back of horse is frightening. Lauren has been thrown countless times. Been hurt many times, as well. I understand that giving up is easier than facing down her fear.
Dev and I looked around to find Lauren before her next class. She had disappeared. I was not convinced that she hadn’t gone back to stalls and given up. Then I spotted her at the far end of the arena, she wasn’t happy but she was hanging in there.
I sat next to a dear friend who assured me Lauren would be okay. I wasn’t so sure. Neither was Lauren. The first jump was good. Mickey stopped and refused at the second jump but Lauren stayed on. She got her crop, hit Mickey once to get his attention, circled around, sailed over the jump and finished her course. Dev said that Mickey was jumping as well as he ever jumped and Lauren rode like a pro.
Facing down your fears, when you want to quit and give up takes courage. Nothing about this sport is a given. Equestrian sports with the strong connection between horse and rider are exceptionally difficult. What other sport do you share with a thousand pound partner-counting on them to keep you safe? Lauren showed courage (we kind of forced her into it) today and I couldn’t be prouder.