Thursday, 30 July 2015

TBT - A Tale of the Giant Chicken

Since Throwback Thursday is a thing now, I think I'll use it to tell some older stories of times and horses past.

Back in the swamps of time, when I was a much younger T-Rex, I rode the Giant Chicken. He was big, with mottled grey plumage and utterly unpredictable about jumping.  You know those amazing horses that can jump from anywhere?  His gift was that he could stop from anywhere, including ON takeoff.  The Chicken could (and occasionally did) stop standing on his hind legs partway through launch sequence.

Failure in launch sequence is disturbing

Of course, I did what any young T-Rex would do.  I learned slowly, verrrrry slowly.  I was sure I could fix the Chicken.  With enough positive experiences, re-training and encouragement, I could convince him that jumping was the way to go!

Come on Chicken!  Jumping is fun!!! 

And maybe changing the environment would help too?  He wasn't reliable in a ring, with jumps that fall down.  How about we switch to eventing?!?  I'd always wanted to do eventing! Cross country looks super cool!   With a rider inexperienced at XC riding and a chicken of a jumping horse, what could go wrong?

Seriously, SO stupid
And go eventing we did! The one serious advantage was that there was no penalty for trotting jumps. This was awesome because when a horse isn't reliable over fences, speed is NOT your friend.  The faster we went, the faster he could stop/prop/spin, the more likely I would end up a doing a good impression of a lawn dart.

Remember Lawn Darts?   They were awesome.  Best Darwinism experiment ever!

Canter canter canter, trot trot trot, kickkickkick. Come on Chicken!  Off we'd go. Spook at the photographer in the bushes. Hop this, evil eye that, usually with at least one stop around course.  Both of us sweating from anxiety.   Me: Is he going to jump?  Him: Am I going to jump?

Then came our shining moment in eventing.  Heading out on XC with my coach's word's ringing in my ears, "If he tries to stop keep your shoulders back, leg on and kick him over.  He'll jump it"  She really should have said "When he tries to stop" but bless her for being positive and supportive no matter what. (See Reg?  I still remember)  We get about half way around the course to a 2'9" solid gate.

SCREECH! On come the brakes. SqueezeSqueezeSqueeze KickKickKick Its not a refusal if he doesn't step backwards/sideways.  And then the miracle happens! He goes over the gate!

Except not the way you think.

 I feel/see him lift up one front leg, wave it in the air and then put it down on the other side of the fence.  Oh ... crap.  Now he is straddling a solid fence. Vet bills and crutches wing through my tiny brain as I continue to push forward, if he goes into reverse we're screwed.

Up comes the other front leg, wave and place on the landing side of the fence.  And repeat for back half of his body.

I sigh, we continue around the rest of the course. Canter canter canter, trot trot trot, kickkickkick. Come on Chicken!

At the finish, my coach's words?  "When I said to kick him over the fence, that's not quite what I meant"

You think?

Did I mention I had the Chicken for 13 years?  Yup, I was that slow to learn.

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