The Dragon Goes To A Recognized Event

You read that right! Coco Chanel, the ever so misunderstood dragon, went to an actual recognized event at the end of August, and not just as a stall ornament. We were actually IN the event, guys. Can you believe it?!

Now, I know what you must be thinking. “Wow! Coco must really have turned over a new leaf if Shallary felt confident enough to enter her into an event!” Oh no. HAHAHAH. No. That is so not what happened. Here’s how it went down.

I got home from Rebecca in July, with no extra money. (Shocking.) Minimal hours at work due to the week in Montana and the 4th of July equaled a microscopic paycheck and no funds for an event. But, ALAS! Our friend Ruby couldn’t make it to the Inaugural Event at Archer, and had already paid 2 full entries. Being the fantastic person she is, she let me have them for $50 each. SAY WHAT?!

I know! Insane, right?! So how could I not go?! I emailed Heather right away, and got Delilah into the Training. I asked to get Coco into the Novice, but there was no room in the inn. Ugh. Now what? We waited 3 more days. Still nothing. Oh, and let’s not forget, at this point, IT’S THE DAY BEFORE THE EVENT. I’m leaving for Cheyenne in ONE HOUR. So I emailed Heather and asked if Coco could just have whatever opening she had available, and our options were: Intro (2′-ish) or Training (3’3″). *Gulp.*

What do I do?!?!? So I called Christian, laughing hysterically. This decision would be so much easier on any other horse. But it’s COCO. If I take her Intro, we will surely die. Can you imagine? It would be like teaching a 15 yr old kid how to drive, in a Ferrari, on a black ice covered freeway. Just let that sink in. HAHAHAHAHAHH. Sigh. Okay, so THAT sounded like a disaster waiting to happen.

So we signed up for the Training. We are, of course, equally unprepared for the Training, considering I have only jumped her twice in the last month, and have been cruising her around bareback and out on trail rides, because, oh I don’t know, I WASN’T GOING TO AN EVENT UNTIL OCTOBER. See where that gets me? TWO horses in the Training, with no preparation.

*Please note* This is not an indication of my usual prep work, nor is this recommended by myself or Christian. But… when in Rome. (Does that work here? It sounded good.)

In my usual fashion, I didn’t leave for the event until after work on Thursday night, so I got to Cheyenne at 11:45 pm. Oh, and Coco had dressage at 7:53 a.m. 7:53. Luckily, Christian got up early and fed and braided the dragon for me, and I had enough time to do a mostly civilized, if not blurry eyed and yawning, warm-up. Coco mostly walked (no jigging allowed) to the warm-up, which is a feat all on its own. Once in the ring, we had to practice standing around. And more walking. No, Coco, not jigging. Yes, walking. Good dragon. I fed it a cookie. I pet the dragon.

I always get a kick out of my warm-ups. Other people are doing all this fancy stuff, and I’m over here like, “Have another cookie, Coco. And if you stand realllly still for a minute, I’ll feed you yet another cookie.” So we stand. We snack. We walk around a bit… and we stand some more.

We did a quick run-through of our test, which, by the way, I had never practiced said movements on Coco before, and went to the ring. (I have literally spent the last 9 months convincing her to stand around and be calm. Haven’t exactly had time to practice our medium canter, extended trot, and stretchy circles with all this standing around we’ve been doing.) BUT! We put in such a civilized test. I was so proud of her. The pictures of her test turned out pretty darn cute too, but no money to buy them, of course. The results were in: 42.1 and in 10th place. Woohoo!! But tomorrow is cross country. *Gulp.*

Luckily our dressage was less dragon-like than this… This was our walk back to the barn, where I forced her to walk and stand for pictures. She is so abused.

Fast forward to cross country. We of course had more chaos, because there was not enough time to fit in both Delilah and Coco’s rides, 30 MINUTES APART, with a 25 minute hack (one way) from the barn to xc. So we got permission to haul the dragon to the xc parking lot, and while I was piloting Dillis around, our ever so trusty groom, Suzi, had arrived and saddled the dragon. Of course, Chanel hadn’t actually let Suzi put her boots on, so we ripped off Delilah’s boots, stuffed them on Coco, and gave her another cookie. I changed the bit on Delilah’s bridle* to Coco’s bit, bridled the dragon, and we were off! Only 15 minutes until we leave the start box. That should be plentttty of time. *Gulp.*

*Remember that whole, “being ridiculously broke” thing I have going on? Yeah, I have one bridle for the two horses. I swap their bits back and forth between each ride. I know. It’s ridiculous, but it’s what we’ve got to work with right now, so we just deal. Now where were we?

Ah, yes. Off to the warm up. She tries to jig, because “OMG IT’S CROSS COUNTRY, MOM!! DID YOU NOTICE ALL THESE CROSS COUNTRY JUMPS OUT HERE?! THIS IS WHERE WE GET TO GO REALLY FAST TO JUMP ONE, SLAM ON THE BRAKES, AND RUN BACK TO THE WARM UP TO OUR FRIENDS AS FAST AS WE CAN!!! I’M SO EXCITED!! SQWEEEEE!!!!!!! I LOVEEEE CROSS COUNTRY!!!!!!!😍” says Coco.

So we had to have words. It went something like this.

“You will walk to the warm-up, Chanel.”

“NOT A CHANCE! I WILL RUN SO FAST!!!!!!” said Coco.

*I weigh my options, and decide that bribery stands the best chance.*

“Will you do it for ONE Scooby snack, Coco?” I asked.

“GONNA GO SO FASSSST!!!!!”

“Fine. Will you do it for TWO Scooby snacks?” I asked.

Coco stops in her tracks.

Two Scooby snacks, you say? Why, you have yourself a deal!!”

Coco eats the two cookies and proceeds to walk calmly around the warm up. We picked up a trot, and jumped the cross rail. Not too terrible. Jumped it again. Also not too terrible. We decided we should jump the vertical since we now have less than 10 minutes before we leave the box.

Now I have got to say, the little dragon really pulled it together. She jumped the vertical, oxer, and the cross country logs in the warm-up like a pro. Ingrid reminded me I have to put her front feet down first, so as not to rocket launch over every fence like it’s 8 feet high and 73 feet wide. Anddd into the start box without drama. *Gulp.*

If there’s one thing I learned from Ricco, it’s that if the warm-up is good, you have probably used up all your luck before you go out on course. I sure hoped that was not the case. I do think we won the warm-up on Saturday, so that was a plus.

3-2-1-GO! “Ride it like you stole it,” I thought.

Hahah. I didn’t actually think that. Well, maybe I did. I can’t remember, as that part is a blur. I think I was mostly thinking lots of potty words, and probably something like “Here goes nothin’!”

So we leave the box. Trotting. She’s still going forward towards fence 1. (It’s a miracle!) But we are slowly getting pulled in by the magnetic forces of the warm-up. Drifting to the right. We start to canter- not because I told her to, but because she suddenly wants to drag me over the first jump. That’s a good sign, since the last time she left the start box, she refused to even get close to the first fence. THEN! She jumped it. I KNOW!!!! Another miracle!

We head towards fence 2. Getting more and more wobbly and wiggly. “Have we been drinking?” I questioned. I thought about it. No, I can’t remember having any drinks. Must be the magnetic forces still at work. We drunken wobble over fence 2, and off to 3. Now fence 3 was further from the warm-up and headed in a better direction for us, so it went pretty swimmingly. But then there was fence 4.

Fence 4, for those that missed it, is a lighter colored hanging log, on a change of terrain that goes from grass to sandy/slightly gravely stuff, down a pretty significant incline. (Or decline? Whatever.) So we of course are spooking at jump 4 before we are even remotely in the realm of jump 4, because she is apparently using her binoculars to hunt fences. And after I specifically told her to leave them at her stall. She never listens. Anyways, she sees the fence 800 meters away and starts having steering failure. So we do some dressage. We come back to a trot, I ask her to get round and move off my leg. We trot wayyyy up around the jump over by the property line, and I pretend that the jump does not exist. Coco wonders what the heck we are doing, as does the innocent volunteer jump judge. I holler at the concerned judge that this is perfectly normal, and don’t worry, we will eventually get steering back and probably make it to her jump before the next horse comes.

So we circle again the other way. Steering finally returns. (Miracle!) We trot to the jump, drifting left, drifting right, and ROCKET LAUNCHING over it from much too close. I start laughing hysterically, and I glanced back at the jump judge. Her eyes were huge, I think from fear, but Coco is sure that it was in awe of her raw talent and scope. I yelled back to the jump judge, “That is how NOT to jump it!” She laughs.

The earth drops away from me, and we are cruising down the decline. I made the dragon trot so that we wouldn’t leave skid marks around the turn. The next jump was bright red, with polka-dot mushrooms, which were apparently not scary until it was too late. She veered left, and we had to circle. Poo. Our first refusal. Naughty Chanel! So she jumps it. We make it over the next jump after another refusal, and I thought about retiring there. She was really being quite good, and I did get her to jump the last three jumps even though she was questioning them. But what if she ends up jumping around! That would be so fun!! 

So I circle and do some more dressage. The jump judge at fence 7 looks at me like I’m lost. I explain to her that I’m debating retiring. She tells me to just jump the darn trakhener. Seems like a good plan. So I point Coco at it, and I did have my left leg on, but apparently not enough. She runs out to the left. Ugh. Naughty pony. Come to it one last time with my left leg doing some sort of stuff down there, and another run-out. UGH.

Now here’s what should have happened if I were a better rider and the stars were aligned. I would have remembered my left knee and simultaneously smacked her with the stick on her left side as we were approaching the jump. But it’s a trakhener (hanging log over a ditch) and I can’t let go of the reins or I’ll fall off!!! (Okay, fine. My leg was anchored, and I would have stayed on, probably, but that was not a risk I was willing to take.) So our xc adventure ends here. We got the big E.

But GUYS! We made it over six jumps that we really were not prepared for, and the jumps themselves were all pretty civilized. Not too bad for never having jumped a Training cross country jump on her before. I mean, she left the start box. She left her friends and the warm-up. She fought the magnetic pull, which has been an impossible feat more than once. She was really not even looky at the jumps, just being a dork.

So CONVENIENTLY I was the last horse in my division. So I am leaving the course at a walk, headed back from the boondocks up to the warm-up. And I feed her another cookie. We stop for the score runner 4-wheeler and have a nice look around. Chatted with the jump judge from fence 4 as we waited. She said Coco has mad skillz. (She’s not wrong.) And we walked back to the warm-up, having added at least one more member to Coco’s fan club.

Are you guys even realizing how many miracles have happened since the start of this blog entry?! Sheesh! Walking, dressaging, jumping, leaving friends, I mean, how much more could a kid ask for?! Well, I will tell you. We asked to do the show jumping warm-up. Yes, just the warm-up. Because Coco doesn’t actually care about the jumps themselves. It’s a matter of us getting on the same page and finding a speed and rhythm that we are both comfortable with. It’s a matter of keeping all of Coco’s parts headed in the same direction towards the jump, making a good shape over the jump, me editing my position to go with her hugemongous jump, and landing front feet first. Oh, and not racing away from the jump like her tail is on fire.

So the next day, we wandered around and watched our friends jump and win ribbons. We poked around the warm-up on a loose rein and did an interview with some members of her fan club. Coco signed a few autographs, and we got our picture taken together.

HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A DRAGON STANDING THIS STILL BEFORE?!

Then, after Christian was done ogling over how fantastic Odie did, she came to help us jump. Coco jumped all the things, and all of the parts were coming together. We jumped the oxer at an angle for the heck of it, where I stuffed her under it (okay, twice) because I failed to make a plan. So I made a plan. She jumped it beautifully, and we returned to the walking on a loose rein. (Seriously. Another miracle.)

A pocket full of cookies at the ready, and we headed back to the barn, thinking about how pretty our imaginary blue ribbon was. I don’t care if it doesn’t show on the scoreboard. The little dragon was a rock star that weekend, and to me, she won by a country mile. 💗