Yesterday, I bought two pairs of skinny jeans. Appalled by the thought that I’ve become a hipster, I consoled myself with “Well, at least I bought them at Wal-mart.” But then I realized that that means that I bought them ironically, which makes me even more of a hipster. *le sigh*
Back in November, Lila and I left the sub-freezing (and by that, I mean -12°F) weather of Colorado for a few days in warm Las Cruces, New Mexico for a horse trial.
Here’s our dressage round:
Here’s our stadium jumping round:
Lila was great in cross-country too — bold and forward. I was particularly pleased with how we jumped the ditch: I stayed up, and so Lila jumped it without a second glance. Alas, I don’t have any video because the USEF has banned helmet cameras due to safety concerns. (Hopefully, that will be temporary.)
We ended up in 5th place… which isn’t bad. If we’d just not had that unlucky rail down in stadium, we would have won. Them’s the breaks!
After being dormant for some time, the ridiculous website and Facebook page of “Checking Premises” has been removed. I can’t say that I’m surprised. I’m certainly not unhappy. The bad news is that the dogmatic wing of the Objectivist movement persists, and after the encouragement / tolerance it received from official quarters in recent years, I don’t think it’ll be dying the ignominious death it deserves any time soon. Still, at least it seems quieter these days.
In any case… whatever. Over the past few years, I’ve realized that the various problems in the Objectivist movement are really just very human problems, and I’ve seen them replicated in countless other communities, ideological and otherwise. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to do my own thing, knowing that I’m making countless people’s lives better in the process. That makes me happy!
Just one last thing, because it’s just so awesome:
Phantom: The sun is setting. I’m worried.
Me: We’re all chill, nothing to worry about here. We’re just on a nice quiet hack.
Phantom: I’m still worried. My buddy Lila is missing me. I miss her.
Me: It’s okay, lovebug. Lila will be okay, and you’ll see her again soon.
Phantom: OMG, THERE’S A MAN FOLLOWING US BACK THERE.
Me: It’s alright, he’s just going for a walk, like us.
Phantom: I DON’T BELIEVE YOU. I NEED TO LOOK AT HIM. HE’S STALKING US.
Me: No, let’s just keep walking, love.
Phantom: NO NO NO NO. HE WANTS TO MAKE ME INTO A LAMP. I JUST CAN’T HANDLE THIS. AHHHHH!!!
Me: Oh sh*t…
Last week, I flew to Cincinnati to buy this behemoth known as a “toterhome” — it’s a big, big truck with living quarters attached to the cab, plus a bed in the back long enough to attach a gooseneck trailer. Her name is “Helga.”
Toterhomes are mostly used by people who race cars, but I’ve seen a few at most horse trials too. Basically, I’ll use this to haul Martha Deeds’ big four-horse trailer when we’re competing in horse trials far from home, as well as for our month-plus trip to Aiken, South Carolina. (In Aiken, I’ll live in it.) It’ll give us more living space and more amenities than Mart’s trailer alone, including a kitchen and bathroom. Also, Paul and I will be able to go on treks with it, with or without the horses. I’m even using it for this weekend’s clinic with Eric Horgan, as the horses and I will be staying at Mart’s.
It’s quite something to drive, but I managed over 1200 miles in a day and half for the trek home — including through some city streets and gnarly construction.
Now I just need to buy myself an “I love fossil fuels” t-shirt!
Here’s the video from my helmet cam of Lila’s cross-country round at the Greenwood Farm Horse Trial in Texas. (That was last Sunday.) In sum, Lila jumped wonderfully boldly from a gallop for so much of the course — until disaster struck! — and then we recovered to complete the course nicely.
Here’s the video, but you might want to read the description below it for context before watching.
The bold jumping that Lila gave me throughout this course is exactly what I’ve been struggling to get from her for some months. Her hock injections, plus some changes in how I rode her, made a huge difference.
In particular, I was so proud of her (and me!) for how we jumped the trakehner. Trakehners are logs set over ditches, and this was a max height log (2’11″) over a deep ditch. Lila isn’t great with ditches, and I’ve always been freaked out just by the thought of these fences. We’ve not ever schooled over them, although we jumped a log with a half-ditch under it in the horse trial at Santa Fe. (We didn’t do that very well, however.)
Over this trakehner — which you’ll see right after the white fence — I cantered her into it with plenty of gusto and determination, and I kept my eyes above the horizon. She jumped it without the slightest hesitation, and you can hear just how pleased I was by that.
Not too long after that, we had our minor disaster at the log fence headed into a gully. I was quite tired heading up the hill into the pasture. (My stirrups were a hole shorter than they’d ever been, which was good, but extra-tiring.) So I didn’t sit her down in the way that I should have in the few strides before the fence, and I probably didn’t give her any leg. I was just a passenger, and that’s never good.
So as you can see on the video, she stopped suddenly in the stride before the fence, and I was thrown forward, hard. I ended up in front of the saddle, arms wrapped around her neck, with my face looking close-up at her ears. I really really didn’t want to fall off, so I shimmied backwards when she raised her head and neck. That took just a second or two.
As soon as I sat up — still in front of the saddle — Lila decided that she’d had enough. She began cantering back up the hill, and I started getting pretty scared as she went faster and faster. I realized that I could have a pretty bad fall unless I stopped her pronto, so I put on whatever brakes I could, stopped her with some difficulty, and then wiggled myself back into the saddle. You can hear the panic in my voice during that segment. Yes, that is funny! Laugh away!
Then we jumped the fence properly, and we finished the course just fine. (Well, the ditch to the brush was a bit rough, but we got through it.) The only casualty was my glasses, which I never did find.
Despite that bit of craziness, I’m soooo proud of Lila for jumping so well. Obviously, I need to work on my balance and endurance in my cross-country two-point, and that will get done in the next few months. (It’s already underway!)
We ended up in last place, but that’s fine. Lila showed me a whole new level of potential on this very difficult course — the most difficult novice course we’ve ever done — and that pleases me greatly.
Here’s some video from late July — when Martha Deeds, Jill Garzarelli, and I schooled cross-country at the Colorado Horse Park. This was Lila’s first time over training-level fences. We had a few refusals (e.g. at the corner), but she was really great overall. Who would have predicted that my lazy, opinionated, on-the-forehand draft-cross would be such a capable eventer?!? She’s my girl!
I like this:
About 10 years ago, I sat down with Phillip Dutton and asked him what I could do to be more competitive. The first thing he told me was to “never underestimate how long it took me to get mentally strong enough to be this good.” He didn’t say I needed better horses, more lessons or more money. None of those things hurt, but they will not take the place of mental strength. I think other sports focus more on this than eventing, but we need to realize how integral it is to our success.
Personally, I feel like I’m gaining experience in all the varieties of mistakes that I can make every time I compete. I figure that so long as I’m making new mistakes, all is well. Also, once I start competing Phantom, I’m going to have to make a whole new slew of mistakes, just because she’s so different from Lila.
So when I get impatient with myself, as I often do, I need to remind myself, “never underestimate how long it took me to get experienced enough to be this good.”