As the Hotwalker Turns: The morning after

With horses, things can go from “I’m the king of the world!” to “I’m choking on a slice of humble pie” in the matter of seconds. Katy Groesbeck recaps her weekend at Twin Rivers Horse Trials.

From Katy:

So just last week, Leslie says to me “wins are far and few between.” Well, after starting off this weekend at the Twin Rivers Horse Trials with a 24.1 and 15-point lead in the Advanced division after dressage, I’m not gonna lie, I was ready to call her bluff. My horse had never gone better, I was feeling up to the challenge of the cross-country course, and I had my game face on.

However, little did I know that I had sealed my fate Thursday afternoon while going on the first of three course walks. Although I had been careful to differentiate the routes of the very similar Adv. and CIC3*** tracks at the sunken road, I had failed to notice that fences 10b were different for the two divisions later on, at the first water. Without consulting my map or really even acknowledging the number on the fence (most of the fences bore BOTH the HT and CIC blue numbers; I took little notice of the three pretty stars staring at me on THIS fence), I walked the line that I had ridden just the month before.

Well, Saturday morning I sure ate a heaping slice of Humble Pie; it seems that show committees have pretty good eye-sight and can tell when you’ve jumped the wrong fence. I was fortunate in that they did not pull me up until fence 16, giving me the precious chance to test my horse over some of the toughest questions on the course; he answered ALL of them brilliantly, and I have never been so proud of this horse. I must admit, I was pretty stoked with the grit of my own riding, too.

Anywho, I was staring a double-clear run square in the eyes when in my peripheral vision I see a man waving his hands wildly in the air. To start, I have to say that I can’t believe the bravery this man showed in standing in the way of a hurdling cross-country machine, petite though he may be.  Then, after realizing that this man was signaling me to stop, I thought, “Oh no! There must be a rider down on course!” And then, “…..I’m the only horse on course; I’m pretty sure I don’t remember falling.”

And then the man, as mercifully as he could, informed me that I had been eliminated. The look I gave him in response was pretty wide-eyed and blank. Say WHAT??!

“You jumped the wrong fence at 10B.” Now I’m wondering if I really DID have a fall, and maybe blacked out in the process. The guy must be suspecting me of either concussion or retardation at this point, because I clearly have no idea WHERE 10B is, let alone that I jumped the WRONG 10B.

I stammer a bit and look at the fence closest to me: number 16. I do some quick subtraction in my head and glance back at the course.

“You mean at the water?”

“Ya, you took the wrong fence leaving the water.”

Blank stare. Stunned silence.


Slightly embarrassed and hugely bummed, I walk off course and pat Wort on the neck; he was great, no matter what. I give myself a moment, consider crying, and decide it’s just really not worth the tears. We both live to ride another day, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he is capable and proven himself to be an upper-level-worthy horse. All in all, I am satisfied with the ride and glad to have had the chance to test ourselves.

It seems that in the last six months, I have had to endure some pretty tough lessons like this. I’m not sure why they’ve accumulated in this time span, or why they’ve come at less-than-ideal moments, but I have to say that they have all been valuable lessons that have gone on to make me better the next time out.  And I have to be ever-grateful that the only thing injured in the process of learning these tough lessons has been my ego (and also my checkbook).

So this time I go home without a ribbon, but I know I’m still going home a winner.

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