Jumping Past Cancer: A comeback story, part III

Susan Corwin has been blogging for HN about her quest to complete her first mini horse trial since completing chemotherapy just two-and-a-half months ago. This is the grand finale!

From Susan:

This morning I stumbled upon a list my husband started.  It simply reads:

Dec 10:  Lump found

Dec 13:  Dr. Jennings exam

Dec 14:  Mammogram and ultrasound

Dec 19:  Biopsy

Dec 23:  Dr. Deweese consultation (surgeon)

Dec 27:  MRI

Dec 29:  Genetic test

Jan 3:  Dr. Thornton (plastic surgeon)

That’s where the list ends, but there is one date I want to add:

Aug 5:  Successfully completed Open Novice at Spring Run Mini-Trial and came in a very respectable fourth place!

I had very low expectations for my dressage but was still pretty “deer in the headlights” tense, until, da da da… I messed up my test and went off course.  “Ding, ding,” word with the judge and all my tension melted away.  I guess messing up washed away all the pressure I had been telling myself not to feel.  With the two point error and losing points in one of our strongest moves, “the halt,” by not stopping on G, I still managed to pull of the best dressage score we have ever had: 37!  (Still trying not to do the math to see what it might have been.)

Very glad that was behind me, I put Monty away and having 2 ½ hours before X-C, I chilled out in my air conditioned house.  God, it’s great to live here.  I eventually walked stadium (in my back yard).  It was a challenging course with lots of questions, but I felt totally confident.  I had “walked” X-C (well, drove my car around X-C) the day before and I felt confident there as well.

X-C ride time at 10:36 and by then I had three full-time grooms.  Now I know how Karen O’Connor feels.  My always wonderful husband Bruce, the amazing aforementioned Lindsey Tucker and my great friend Patti Naiser all at my call.  I guess now that I think about it, that may have been excessive for one horse and rider LOL.  So when it came time for X-C I changed out of my shorts and tee (I got out of dressage stuff moments after I left the ring) and put on my X-C costume.

Now let me pause here to point out another huge benefit to living here.  My garage turns into my very own personal wash stall with hot water, tack room, tack cleaning station, staging and mounting area.  So when I casually strolled out of the A/C to my driveway, my wonderful, magical elves had my beautiful horse coiffed, shiny and all dressed for X-C.  (Now, please don’t hate me for this.  Trust me, this isn’t usually how it goes, but my elves love me and wanted me to save all energy for the jumps!)

I decided that warm up would consist of a vigorous trot to start and warm up jumps would be on-course jumps #1, #2… and #3 if necessary.  Now, Monty isn’t exactly a total packer by far and one of the drawbacks of being at home are all the new, scary decorations.  So for at least a few jumps, he would suck back, I would boot him and he would fly at and over the jump.  Not the smooth technical ride that I was hoping for, but bless Monty when I say “go” he GOES!

The jumps were no joke Novice.  They were max I’m sure, especially jump #12 called “the brush”, but mostly referred to as “the steeplechase” fence.  Heading into that, Ice Cube was playing loudly in my mind:  “You can do it, put your back in to it… You can do it, put your a$$ in to it!”) while simultaneously my own voice was screaming in my head, “And don’t look at it woman!”

With a huge leap we cleared #12.  (He doesn’t know about brushing through brush yet.)  The rest of the course rode great.  Seventeen jumps in all, up hills, down hills, water and me huffing and puffing with a huge smile on my face at the end!

Next was stadium.  I was supposed to go right after X-C, but decided for some more A/C instead and into outfit #3.  #1 and #2 lay drenched on my bedroom floor.

Up to stadium and I told myself it was like every other jumping lesson and I was going first as usual.  Warm up over one cross rail and two halts made my brow furrow.  He didn’t seem at all as tired as I was after X-C.  He seemed stronger… “eeeks!”  Oh well, came this far, can’t let my legions of grooms and Ice Cube down now.

Jumps #1, #2 and #3 were somewhat harrowing and I was distracted a bit, so I way missed my line to #4.  But in the immortal words of Tim Gunn on Project Runway; “Make it work people!”  So we took it at an impressive angle and finally Monty got interested.  The course got smoother and smoother and by jump #10 we looked like we knew what we were doing… and we were DONE with a huge round of applause from my wonderful Spring Run family!  We might all be competitive, but when it comes to family we always pull for each other.

Divisions ranged from Baby Starter to Open Novice and the event was a resounding success:  completely full with others scratching at the door.  My husband, who is the safety officer, was never called and although there were lots of green horses and no end to the entertaining antics, everyone stayed firmly attached to their tack.

Fun and lots of learning were had by all!  Thank you to the Harrises, Nina Bryant, Debbie Hinkle and all the countless volunteers and the best working students on the planet for making it all happen.

Later that day it occurred to me that the X-C schooling session I had with Rachel Zoller Sketo last Saturday, about which I made my first post, had been the first time I have jumped in almost a year.  Gulp, maybe Beginner Novice would have been smarter.

To learn more about Spring Run Farm, please visit www.springrun.org.

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