Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"That's Horses"

The alarm goes off at 4am on Saturday, and I force myself out of bed and head outside to feed the horses. I haven’t had much sleep because my sister’s dog has been running laps of the backyard barking at mice ALL NIGHT, but at this time of morning it doesn’t make much difference. Once everything is ready, I wake up Dad and we load the horses (and dogs) and head to State Championships. It’s a 2-hour drive and I think about catching up on sleep, but my little dog is on my lap smiling at me and I know that if I close my eyes she’ll try and kiss me, so I stay awake. We arrive at 7:30am, just as they announce that the course is ready to walk. I drag Jangles off the truck and quickly brush and saddle him, change into my riding clothes and literally run to the oval to walk the course. I have a strong history of losing my way during competitions, so I take the time to memorise the track perfectly, planning my turns, visualising where we will be galloping to make good time.

Jangles warms up beautifully. Mum has been exercising him at home, and he feels good – fit and full of energy. We are reigning state speed champions, and we have a good chance of going back-to-back. The course is not ideal – lots of long stretches and very few turns, but I have confidence in Jangles.

Jangles does not have confidence in himself. We approach the first fence and he carefully jumps over, making an extra special effort not to touch the rails with his toes. I ask him to speed up and he does, a little, as we head towards fence number two. We find a good take-off spot, but at the very last minute Jangles decides not to jump this fence, and our chances of winning disappear in front of my eyes. I line up for a second try, but Jangles has already made up his mind and he refuses again. We are eliminated. All that is left to do is make the walk of shame out of the arena.

I check my watch once I have packed up for the day – it’s 9am. Sigh.

As they say, “that’s horses”.

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