I Love my Horse!

I’m not sure, but I might have said that before. Oh well, it never hurts to say it again. Actually, I just wanted an excuse to show off this picture of me and Crossbo from this month’s team chase. I don’t have very many good action pictures of me with any of my horses, and until now, I had no jumping pictures of Crossbo. Now I do, thanks to Jim Lane, who has taken a lot of wonderful pictures and very graciously permitted me to use this one here. Check out his work at The Photo Lane.

Actually, although it may not be obvious from the picture, an equally good caption would be “Crossbo saves my ass … again”. We may look like we have the situation well under control, but that’s all his doing. I had a foreboding sense of an impending train wreck as we approached that wall. If Crossbo had any doubts at all, he never showed it.

I’d been a little rattled by our refusals at the first two jumps. No harm was done, except for that to my ego. But it was so out of character for him that it had me wondering what was wrong. We had a couple of clear jumps after that to soothe my nerves before approaching the wall. But as we approached it, I was worried about the fact that we didn’t jump many walls this season, and something unfamiliar was even more likely to spook him than the familiar coops.

In the back of my mind, I heard Julie‘s advice after our one and only mishap this hunt season: “Give the horse in front of you plenty of room, and let him go! That would have been very appropriate here too, except we were well past the point where I should have thought of it. At this point, there was no way I could accomplish both of those.

When I cleaned Crossbo’s bridle after the final hunt, I assumed we wouldn’t need any serious brakes for whatever riding we might do this summer. So I took off the ported Kimberwicke I had been using at the end of the season, and switched back to the Waterford snaffle we started the season in, before Crossbo realized how much fun hunting is.

When we first started the race, I wondered if I was going to miss the Kimberwicke. Then I thought “Naaah .. this event is all about speed.” And most of the time, that was right. But as the riders in front of me slowed for the jump, I briefly thought brakes might be nice. But then I decided I was past the point where I would want to apply them. That might just throw him off balance, and that wall would hurt more than a coop if we crashed it.

So I mentally replaced the conjunction in Julie’s advice, and realized I could give the horse in front of me plenty of room, or I could let Crossbo go. Hoping Anne would forgive me, I told Crossbo he was going to have to figure this one out himself.

I still don’t know how he did it, but somehow he collected himself enough to avoid jumping on top of Anne, while maintaining enough momentum to clear the wall effortlessly. And not only that, he managed to avoid trampling the photographer whom I almost didn’t notice because I was so busy praising Crossbo for saving my ass yet again. If you check out Jim’s gallery of pictures from the event, you’ll notice he shot the next team from a different angle. I’m not sure whether that was because of our close encounter, or he was just looking for variety.

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