Atta Girl! - Part 1
Eric Lamaze & Hickstead after a clear round at the Masters tournament at Spruce Meadows!
The clatter of Blinker's horse shoes on the cement behind me was faint compared to the sound of my pounding heart beating in my chest. I could barely hear the jingle of my spurs on my boots as I lead Blinker, my 16.2hh Thoroughbred mare, down the aisle of my stable.
As we walked past the boxes each horse popped they're head out as if Blinker and I were royalty. I had to force myself to stand upright by bracing myself on Blinkers neck, which was working well since she was ready to go and was walking slightly ahead of me.
I was lucky to have a horse like her, I may be the most nervous person in the world right now and she knows that, but she's not going to let it affect her. She's going to do her very best and carry me through this round of oxers, verticles, and maybe the odd liverpool clear and fast. I just know it.
I took a quick glance over my shoulder and saw an empty aisle behind me. Where could everyone be? The stable is usually pretty loud with the hustle and bustle of everyone getting they're horses groomed, mucking out stalls, loading horses, and basically just preparing for show season.
Blinker whinnied as we had reached the end of the stable aisle. Ahead of us I saw everyone, the workers, my coach Andrea, my parents, siblings, other riders, and my friends all gathered around the jumping ring. Sadly, that's where Blinker and I were headed.
Suddenly, I got even more nervous. I'm never nervous when I go riding, I'm a confident and accomplished show jumper and rider. The only time I'm nervous is if something's going to go wrong. I pushed all those negative thought's aside as I pulled myself atop Blinker. She flicked her black ears back and forth showing that she was ready.
I gathered my leather reins in my shaky hands and brought my body into correct position. I could draw a perfectly straight imaginary line down my shoulders to my heels. I clucked to Blinker and she moved forward into a smooth walk towards the ring where I met up with Andrea.
"Nervous?" she questioned.
"It's alright to be nervous ; there are a lot of people here today that want you to do well. But forget about them, you'll do great! Your more than ready for the show next weekend." She gave me a pat on the back and whispered, "Atta girl Lilly!" That was her 'punchline'.
I squeezed Blinker's sparkling white sides with my heels and she brought herself into a powerful trot. I posted to her movements for a couple laps around the ring, letting her get a good look at the jumps. I brought her into a rocking canter and switched our direction. I could hear people murmuring in the background and lost my focus for the slightest second and Blinker fell back into a trot. Cursing myself under my breath I reminded myself not to lose focus.
Gathering Blinker into a walk I nodded to Andrea, and then started our course with a slow canter around the ring. I gave Blinker a sharp nudge with my heels heading into the first jump; a four foot vertical. She immediately lengthened her stride and gathered herself to soar over the jump. I tightened the inside rein bringing her to a square oxer. Her hooves contacted the ground on the other side with the jump still fully intact.
It was almost as if Blinker had wings. She listened to my every cue and soared over every jump. I felt extremely confident we could finish this course clear and under the time limit. All my nerves were gone. I smiled to myself as I pulled on the left rein towards the three jump combination. We were four strides from the first of the three when my smile faded and everything went blurry. My legs trembled from my nerves.
Blinker's hooves pounded faster and faster until she was in a full gallop. I tried pulling her up but she wasn't slowing. I realized she was responding to my legs that were squeezing against her sides to keep them from shaking. I tried to relax my legs but it was too late.
Blinker propelled herself up over the jump with me one step behind. I ended up catching the bit in her mouth to keep myself from falling but I made her lose balance. Her polished front hooves clipped the top rail and Blinker's hind legs caught it as we went down. I lost my seat and fell forward onto her neck as we landed. Blinker took off at a thundering gallop and she bolted towards the next jump which came way too soon. Blinker took off too late knocking down all the rails as we ascended and all the while I was hanging onto her neck.
I tried to pull her in a circle but she'd chomped down on the bit in fright and wasn't slowing or stopping. The final jumped loomed ahead and was coming all too quickly.
I didn't think she would attempt to jump this one but I was instantly corrected as she tried to jump too early but ended up skidding and throwing her hind legs up violently and tossing me over her head as she flipped over on top of me. I was able to roll out of the way before she crashed on top of the rails of the jump... and me. Blinker rolled to her side to try and get up.
I tried to stand and make my way over to the thrashing horse but a horrendous pain in my arm stopped me as I fell to the ground. It was then that everything went black and the only noise I heard was my heart beating.
TO BE CONTINUED...