The four days I was with Jared, he taught me quite a bit about the actual events. He took me to the XC course on Tuesday, and we worked on stadium on Thursday. He said the Dressage I could do easily on my own, at home. We worked on courses mainly on Thursday, making up the hardest courses we could think of. Kiro had gotten increasingly more fit, and was able to handle everything pretty easily. In fact, he was starting to look almost as buffed up as NG, which I was proud of. I had gotten lots of praise on my horse from Jared, which I was of course very happy about. After the two days of work during the week, it was obvious that we were ready to take our skills to the judges.
The trailer Jared pulled up in was beautiful. It was quite sizable, and though I had pulled trailers that size, they had never been this fancy. It was a 4 Star trailer, one of the best in the business. He allowed me to glance around the living quarter after loading Kiro. The whole thing was beautiful. I was happy to put Kiro in the area next to NG, as the trailer itself was beautifully padded, with some very nice hay in the manger. “You didn’t have to do that, I could have put in my own hay,” I noted to Jared. He said it was no problem, that he was happy to give Kiro some nice quality hay to keep him happy all weekend. I thanked him very, very graciously. The living quarter was splendid. Television, surround sound system, kitchenette, bathroom with shower … I really wanted to spend my time in it.
After tearing myself away and saying goodbye to Trina, I was awed at the truck itself as well. It was a huge dually, super nice. I had seen the truck before, though – Jared owned this truck. I was always super jealous, and I told him that. “You can use it anytime Kat, I don’t care.” He laughed at my expression, “You are the best freaking friend I’ve ever had in my life! I’d bear-hug you if you weren’t driving!” We laughed, and continued the drive. It was a few hours north, and I spent a bit of the time sleeping, playing on my phone, talking to Jared, various things to keep my mind busy. It was Friday – we would get to the event, get set up and the horses comfy, and show in the morning. Dressage and Cross would be tomorrow, Stadium on Sunday. We would drive back after Stadium. I was very excited. I had recently purchased the items specific to eventing (safety vest, arm card, plus boots and such for Kiro, etc.) and was more than ready to use them. Not to mention the fun of showing again! With my best friend none the less!
We got to the grounds at about 12:00 PM, we had left at 9:00 AM. Jared ended up waking me up again, and I proceeded to help him unload the horses and the tack. I was in charge of getting the horses out of the trailer, and into their designated stalls. After making a run to the barn office to get our stall numbers, I got Kiro and Northgate settled. We had nice spots, along the corner. We had gotten three stalls – two for the horses, one for the tack. After the horses were in their stalls, I ran back to the trailer to get their shavings and hay before taking off their shipping gear. Once the horses were 100% cared for, I helped Jared unload the tack into the tack stall. There wasn’t too much stuff, since it was just me and him, but it was enough to be a job. I offered to finish organizing while he went off and hooked the trailer up.
By the time he was back, I was finished and sitting outside the stalls on some of the chairs we had brought along. “Dang, Kat, I need to bring you all the time! Fans are hooked up and running, chairs are set out, tack is organized better than I could ever dream of … I think I’ll keep you around!” I laughed, pleased at his reaction to the work I’d done, “Oh really?” I began, with a teasingly sarcastic tone, “You will? Oh thank you, kind sir! You are ever so sweet for embracing my presence! However will I repay you?” Jared picked up the tone and decided to play along, “Hmm, I suppose there is one thing…” He said, stroking his chin and standing tall, “You could offer me a ride on your fantastic steed!” My face turned instantly from playful to very serious. Under normal circumstances, I would have no problems with Jared riding my horse. He was an excellent rider, and I knew he would never do any harm to any horse. The issue was if Kiro would do harm to him. “You know Jared, I told you about Kiro’s track record … I mean, I’m the only one he’s let on his back for more than two seconds so far. I don’t want him to hurt you…” I was bashful, I hated turning Jared down, I didn’t want to hurt his feelings in any way, make him think I thought he was incapable. He simply smiled, per normal, “Such a shame, I would love to take a spin on him. He’s fantastic. What if I promised you I would get off as soon as I felt something, as soon as you said the word?” I still wasn’t fond of the idea. What if neither of us saw him flip? But I could tell he really wanted to ride him, and Kiro had been okay with Jared in the past … “Fine, but there is one condition!”
We walked into the smaller practice arena with our mounts in-hand, fully tacked in their respective gear. Jared called back to me as he unlatched the gate, “It’s a good thing we are the same saddle size, because these two have majorly different builds! No way my saddle would fit on this guy! I really like him though, he’s built just about perfectly for Stadium.” I simply laughed and nodded, watching Kiro closely for any sign of disapproval. He let Jared lead him almost as calmly as he let me, which I was very happy about. Kiro did continuously look backwards to make sure I was there, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, that’s for sure. He looked back to me now, watching me as I held Northgate. The big bay was just about the same size as Kiro, but didn’t have the same power as I felt in my big black. Maybe it was the coat, maybe it was what I saw in Kiro… who knows?
I wanted to get on Northgate first, so that if Kiro took off with Jared, I could grab him. I was hoping for the best, expecting an average amount, but prepared for the worst. It’s how I had always been taught to look at just about everything, and it had gotten me along pretty well. I mounted NG, and immediately noticed two things – one, how much thicker Northgate was than Kiro, and two, how comfy Jared’s saddle was. I cued NG to a walk, and he listened immediately. His stride was pretty normal, not powerful and eating as Kiro’s. I’m sure if I asked more of him, he’d provide. I would test it out later, but for now I paced easily to grab Kiro’s reins to keep him steady as Jared mounted. After he was on, he had to remind me, “Now Kat, I do know how to ride. You can let go now,” He smiled jokingly as he said it, not being mean about the statement at all. I finally did let go, though very reluctantly. He asked my horse to walk off, cuing perfectly; and Kiro listened, without a hitch. He strode on, pulling his hindquarters forward, working beautifully. I had to just sit and watch for a moment, enjoying watching him move. So that’s what it looks like when I ride him! I was so happy to finally get to see. It was beautiful, and I was very pleasantly surprised at Kiro’s behavior.
I watched for a moment more before asking NG to move to the rail. After some pace work at the walk (he was very adjustable, it was obvious how experienced he was), I asked for a working trot. He was less enthusiastic than my Kiro was, just like before, and I had to really push to get the same sort of feel Kiro gave me as I rode. Even then, there wasn’t as much connection. I could tell why Jared loved him so much, though – I don’t know how much more you could train a horse. I was almost convinced into stripping his tack and riding him bare, just to see how amazing he really was. I was honored to get to ride him. His canter was the same way – flawless. His stride was huge when cantering, though it was clear he had to be taught to make the stretch. I wondered what Jared thought of Kiro, and eventually I was forced to pull NG to a walk so I could watch them.
What I saw was really breathtaking. They worked in synergy, dancing through the arena like a fine tuned machine. Kiro was just amazing. He stretched into a large stride in everything he did, using every muscle in his body to its full extent. His muscles riveted as the sunlight sparkled upon his coat, highlighting each and every little move he made. The whole thing was beautiful, like watching a god spin and twirl right in front of your eyes. Jared asked him of everything perfectly, and Kiro provided. I was jealous at first, hoping I got the same response out of him as he was giving Jared. I was forced to snap out of my daydream by Jared’s voice, “Can I take him over that jump?” There was a jump set up along the side of the arena, standing at around 2’6”. I nodded enthusiastically, “please do!” I really wanted to see him jump. At this point, I was just standing in the middle of the arena on Jared’s horse, watching. “Sweet, thank you! Feel free to do the same!” I nodded, but stood a bit longer so that I could see Kiro. They came up on the jump with great pace, quick but controlled, and before I knew it they were flying. Kiro had perfect form. He bent his neck over the jump just a tiny bit, squared his knees perfectly, and took Jared’s automatic release in perfect stride. I could have just stood there all day, watching the two fly. But eventually, I got the curiosity at what Northgate could do. I pushed him into a canter, which he took immediately. Coming to the jump, I could sense that he wanted more rein, and I gave it to him. He seemed to be correct, as it appeared the stretch would fit perfectly. I used the same release as Jared did, and we were airborne. It was so quick, just a hop over the jump, before we had landed again. It was kind of lackluster, to be honest. I could tell that’s what he was trained to do though – get the course over with, in short time. I brought him to a walk again, to let him cool. The horse was very nice, but not quite Kiro. Soon enough, Jared did the same and we switched.
“I like him a lot, Kat! He’s really, really fantastic. The only thing is that … he kind of does everything how he wants it. You try to tell him what to do, and he won’t have it. At least, that’s how he was for me. I couldn’t get him to adjust his pace at all. I know he has it in him though, because he did it for you flawlessly every time we practiced!” We both mounted, me after hugging my boy. Jared looked at us with this look of … content? On his face. I couldn’t quite place it… “What is it?” I asked, to which he just shook his head, “He’s your horse alright. He loves you, you love him. You’re perfect for each other.” He directed his gaze from the horse, to me, “You are both fantastic.” That got a pretty sheepish smile out of me, “You are too; both of you, marvelous.” We stood there for a second, before finally turning to work with our horses.
We schooled each other for a little while longer, commenting and directing based on what we saw. Eventually, we decided to call it quits and let the horses rest. We got back to the barn and tied in our stalls, chatting while we got the horses all taken care of. “So,” I began, “tomorrow is Dressage and Cross. How much time do we have after Dressage? I’d like to get him as rested as possible.” I pulled off Kiro’s tack and made my way to the tack stall while getting Jared’s response, “Pretty good amount of time, maybe an hour or so. But you don’t want to just put him in his stall. I would take his saddle off if he gets too hot, but to be honest, you need to keep him walking.”
“Because you don’t want him getting completely cool before Cross Country. You need to have his muscles as loose and stretched as possible for the event. It’s by far the hardest one.”
“So he can’t go in his stall at all?”
“No, he can, just not for long. You can let him get a drink, let him eat a few bites of hay, but you need to start warming up about a half hour before you go in; nothing tiring, just walking and some trotting. No cantering, it’s too tasking.”
I nodded to myself, as it all made sense, “Okay. Thank you! Are you going in before or after me?”
He came into the tack stall now, finally finished with NG, “After. I’ll be right there at the start gate when you take off, and at the end when you finish. You’ll do great, you’re more than ready.” I took a deep breath, the show jitters starting to settle. “If you say so.” We checked up on the horses once more before deciding to go out for something to eat. We grabbed some burgers at a fast food joint, talking show talk as we sat in the truck and ate. I didn’t realize how much I had missed showing. The schooling, the commotion, the nervous butterflies, hanging with show buddies … The only thing missing was Trina. I hoped she would eventually come to my events … but of course that meant that I would have to tell her what was going on. I quickly decided to spend a few more events in the dark before telling her. It was for the best, right?
We ended the day chilling out on the couch in the LQ trailer, watching a movie. The TV did have satellite, but there was no luck in finding a signal. We settled on watching another horse movie, one I hadn’t heard of. It was pretty good, about a girl showing in Hunters, so I could relate to it. Once it was over, Jared explained the sleeping situation. “So, there’s only one bed in the gooseneck part, it’s a queen. This couch is a pullout though, so you head up there and I’ll get this out.” I nodded, and sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for him to pull out the couch. Once he had set up the sheets and the pillow, I started to get down. “Woah, what are you doing?” He asked, puzzled. I returned the expression, “Going to bed? I thought I was sleeping there?” Jared laughed, shaking his head, “No! You’re taking the mattress, I’m sleeping here.” He started to climb into the make-shift bed, but I protested, “No way! You own this whole thing, you brought me, you are showing in bigger classes than I am, you sleep up here!” Jared shook his head quickly, and jumped into the bed before I could, “But I’m already so comfy here! I don’t want to get up again!” He said, laughing the whole time, obviously amused by his little trick. I just shook my head, “You’re impossible! You will sleep in the mattress tomorrow!” I demanded, but all I got in response was a very fake snore. I rolled my eyes, and turned in for the night, eagerly awaiting tomorrow morning.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx