The next morning was a bit easier to wake up to, as we got to add an extra hour to our sleeping schedule. Jared’s run at the stadium was at 9, mine at 10. I was happy to dress Kiro in our jumping wear, as I had just found a great deal on a beautiful 5-point breastplate that looked awesome on him. The black sheepskin saddle pad I had recently purchased came in the mail just in time for the event, and it looked great over the white baby pad. Jared walked over to my stall after finishing with grooming and caring for Northgate, “You know this isn’t hunters, right? They don’t judge you on how pretty you are!” He taunted, waiting at the front of the stall. I jeered back, “Of course! You can’t use this breastplate in hunters, silly!” He simply rolled his eyes as I unlatched Kiro’s stall and head out the gate.
Warm up went just as well as yesterday did. I rode first, getting Kiro warmed up and ready nicely. Someone had set up two more jumps in the arena, both set fairly low, around 2’6”. After making up some courses and popping over them, I could tell both me and Kiro were ready for our round later that day. This was my forte, something I had done before, something I absolutely loved to do. It was certaintly my favorite stage.
Jared mounted after I had jumped off, and warmed up in a very similar way as I had. I raised the jumps for him, to a more adequate height as he would have them for his round. Kiro flew over them effortlessly, and I started to feel a bit of jealousy. I knew how amazing it was to jump him that high now, and longed for it again. “Next time,” I told myself, “Next time we will have our fun.” I was grateful to show him at all, having to remind myself he wasn’t mine… yet. We heard the announcer call that the show jumping ring had opened, and that our first competitors were beginning their courses. From then on, Jared decided to just walk around until his turn was up. I decided to walk over and scope out the jumps.
For what the show grounds lacked in their cross country, they made it up in their stadium jumping. The jumps were all very bright, colorful, and I had an uneasy feeling that they looked a bit spooky to a horse. Just as I got there, so did another rider. The whistle blew, and I stuck around to watch. It was a big flea-bitten gray, with a cute black bonnet and matching saddle pad. He was a thin build, and matched his rider very well. They looked like a nice team, though the big gray was a bit on the edgy side. He appeared green, or just never taught to settle down. The two cantered down the long side, headed for the first jump. All of the courses were the same today, no matter the height, so I was able to tell where she was going. The first jump was a bit demanding, and harder than some of the other jumps, which I didn’t like. It was an oxer with a gate, splattered with paint all over, with some pink flowers in front of that. The horse dialed it in, and picked up pace. The rider held him very hard, but the horse paid no mind. He sailed over the jump, and did a quick turn to catch the second jump. I watched their course fly by fairly effortlessly, though they did manage to knock a few rails, gaining them 8 faults. It wasn’t until the 6th jump in the course that I found myself very, very worried.
It was an oxer, all dressed in black, with barrels beneath it. I found myself remembering the exact jump I had flipped over just a few years ago, the same as I saw before me with just a difference in color. “Oh my …” I mumbled to myself, wondering how it was possible that I could get myself over that. Just as I was about to really freak out, Jared and Kiro paced up behind me. “Hey Kat … good grief, what’s wrong? Did someone fall? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” I bowed my head, embarrassed at my fear, and told him the issue. He paused for a moment, fumbling for something to say. He finally made out with, “You’ll be just fine. You see this horse? Your horse, right here? He’s not afraid. He’s more than ready to do this, he wants this for you. You watch, Kiro is going to walk into this arena, and do a clean sweep of every single jump here. You will have nothing to worry about. Then you’re going to go in on him, and he is going to do a thousand times better than he would ever even consider doing for me. You’ve got this.” I nodded, trying to convince myself of that. Just as he was finished with his speech, the announcer called my friend and my horse into the ring for their first trip. If they went clear, they would go onto the jump off, where about half of the amount of jumps are used, and the final riders race to get the best time. I watched the ring closely.
Kiro’s ears blipped around like little radars, checking out all the new sights and sounds of the arena. He looked around quite excitedly, and Jared did his best to calm him, stroking his big, black neck calmly. The bell rang for them to start their course, and the two were off in good time. Kiro did very well for Jared, over every obstacle, though he did hesitate at times. There were a few jumps where I could tell Kiro considered refusing, though Jared’s riding skills kept him over the jumps without a single rail pulled. They came out of the ring proudly, making the course in excellent time. Jared came out beaming, Kiro with a good step. “He was awesome! He flies over everything like it’s nothing, I’m starting to get jealous!” Jared laughed, and hopped off Kiro as I jumped on. I patted the big guy I sat upon, “yea, I got to admit, he’s definitely something special!” We walked around for a little while before it was finally our turn.
We entered the ring in great spirits. Kiro was more calmed now, seemingly happy to be back in the ring, and more comfortable under my hands. “That’s my boy…” I whispered to the great horse. I knew I could talk as loud as I wanted in the jumper ring, that it wasn’t the same as in the hunter ring, but it was a habit and likely not a bad one. The bell chimed, and we made our way to the beginning of the course. The first few jumps were perfect. He flied, flawlessly gliding over every jump. He ate up the ground, taking every step with passion and grace. We worked in perfect harmony, lighting up the course. Until the fifth jump. The barrels.
They loomed in front of me dangerously. Flashbacks of the incident played over in my mind. Over and over, flipping over the jump, hooves tangled, broken bones, shattered confidence … Jared’s words rung in my head, “Your horse, right here? He’s not afraid. He’s more than ready to do this, he wants this for you…” “He wants this for you …” We were five strides out now. Kiro was aiming for the jump. He was going for it. “He’s more than ready … he’s not afraid …” I closed my eyes. I let the reins slip through my fingers, and I closed my eyes. By the time we were airborne, I no longer held the reins. They were laid against his withers, my hands spread on either side of me. Kiro flew over the jump effortlessly, and I joined him in flight. We both soared, like birds of a feather, jumping away from the barrels, leaving my fears behind me. Everything was going to be okay. I knew it in this instance, I knew that this horse would save me. Save me from the dark I’ve been hiding in, save me from falling. We landed softly, and head for the next jump with my reins on the buckle. We went through the rest of the course like that, jumping with the only contact being my legs, my seat, and our minds and souls. When the final jump had flew past, and the ending bell rang, we got a “clear round,” from the announcer, and a very, very gracious applause from all those that were ringside. I walked out red in the face, the attention embarrassing me, as I wasn’t used to such a thing. Jared look at me stargazed, “Good god Krista. You two … I can’t even explain …” I simply smiled and pat my horse, catching his amber eyes glancing back to me. He was my horse. I don’t care what anyone said; he was mine. And I loved him with every ounce of my soul.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx