I am going to write this and it may be long, but at least it will help in part to get it out of my chest.
First, I have to thank all of you for the kindness and warmth you have shown to me. It has meant a lot and it is helping me with the pain. Your advice has also been great. At "your" insistence I went to the funeral, I missed the wake, more about that later.
I started jumping when I was eight years old, and reached pro-level at 16. Once, I was one place away to be selected for the Panamerican Games. It was an accident on a horse that made me quit the sport at the level I had reached. A horse I was training fell on top of me and basically my right shoulder was destroyed. I say destroyed, because the damage was so great that after two surgeries there are still things I cannot do. Fortunately, I am a leftie. But, to remain close to the sport, which I love, I started to take up students, just a few and train them. I don't have an Instructor's Certificate, issued by the International Equestrian Federation, but heck, I started at eight and stopped at 26, so I don't need a paper to tell me wether I can teach or not. I know more and have more experience than a lot of people with that piece of paper.
I'd like to explain why I said no, she's not ready when asked, although I was not her regular instructor, I got paid to ride her horse when she would not be available, and to give her lessons when her main instructor was not in town, which was often. It was a hobby, it's not my day-job.
Some of you here may think I'm demeaning other sports, please don't think that. Fence jumping is a very unforgiving sport. I like to compare it with flying. You need a lot of thechnique, but you also need a particular mindset. You need to learn how to focus, concentrate, develop an instinct. For example, if Pete Sampras had to play with an unknown who it's his first Grand Slam, who is the one with the pressure? Of course Pete Sampras. Why? because if he looses the match with that guy, he will loose many things. The papers will not be too kind, his ranking may go down, some sponsors will be asking questions. The other guy, has no pressure, because the worst that can happen is that he looses to Pete Sampras. Everybody will be very understanding, after all, he lost against Pete Sampras. But Pete Sampras cannot give himself the luxury of letting the pressure get the best of him during his match, because then for sure he is going to loose.
That is why I said no when asked. She was good, but she still needed to develop, learn, or achieve, (whatever you want to call it) that mindset I'm talking about. When you are competing on top of the horse nothing matters, the only thing is you, the horse and the fences, you NEED to be 5 minutes ahead of everything. I can tell when someone is riding 200 yards away from a fence that that person will not make the jump. You see it on the face. It's a matter of concentration, more than the correct technique. For some it takes years to develop that mindset, others more fast. She was good, and the competition was at the correct technical level for her, but she just did not have the mindset yet. I knew because she was my student kind of regularly. Jumping in a competition is not the same as jumping when you are at training. For starters, there's public. While she was good when training, at competition she was nowhere close for competing level.
As I said, jumping is a very unforgiving sport. It's rare for people to die, but you see a lot of fractures, dislocations, head trauma, stitches and a lot more. Hers was a freak accident, but, still, she was not ready to be in the ring at competition. That is why I said "no" when I was asked. But, the father the guy with the certificate and her disagreed. I feel guilty because I should have pressed my point. after all, I trained her occasionally. Now, when my contract is up for renewal I am going to add a clause where it says I HAVE the last word on getting someone on the competition. If they can't give me that clause, I'll quit. I am not going to be overruled by people who just think that jumping is getting on top of the horse and letting it do everything. It will not happen again, at least, with the people who train with me.
Her father was very proud, if she wanted to compete, he would be delighted, and sure as heck no one was going to contradict her. More so if it's the guy without the certificate (me).
I knew it was going to be messy, but it never passed my mind that she would even get slightly hurt. Let alone die!!! I thought that she was going to make the normal mistakes and be eliminated from the competion or not making it to the next round. I should have thought more about the consequences.
She started ok. But, when she reached the 5th fence the horse stopped and intertia threw her down and to the side, it's a common ocurrence, it's happened to me countless times. But her neck hit the bar and that was it. I have the image on my mind, over and over, in slow motion. When I saw her on the ground I knew. She was lying unnaturally, strangely, and the sound. I had never heard that sound before. It was like a thick dried tree branch snapping suddenly. It made me sick, I had to turn away because I thought I was going to pass out. Then watching the EMT's, working on her, her eyes open, but they were just staring at nothing. She was not breathing, her heart had stopped, CPR
did not work, I have those images, sounds, cries, the father running into the ring, her eyes, they are all inside me. I can't sleep, because if I sleep I relive the nightmare. One instant she was on a horse closing on a fence, the next, she's lying, unnaturally, her eyes open, vacant, on the ground. Like that, an instant. It just doesn't go away, it's on my head over and over, I'm not eating even, I'm just not hungry, If I hear a similar sound or see a horse I get sick.
Why did it have to happen? She was young, nice, feisty, intelligent, attractive, it's simply not fair. You don't die when you fall!!! I had never seen anything like that. I can't understand why she fell that way, why she had to die? It feels like a nightmare from which I'm hoping I'll wake up. But I don't. She's simply gone. At least it was painless, but still, why?
I followed your advice. I went to the funeral. It felt good seeing her differently, lying in a natural position, eyes closed. She seemed asleep. The atmosphere was very heavy, a lot of cries, tears, but I saw her at least as I remember her. I talked to her too, that also felt good, I prayed in the corpus presente mass, it helped having everyone around feeling the same pain. It was good advice.
I have my fiancee, she was just a friend, but, she was MY
STUDENT, even though it was on an irregular basis. My fiancee is being very understanding, she's letting me be. I'm glad we are together.
Still, I don't know if I'll go back and teach, what if I make a wrong decision with a student and get the same result? I can't deal with that right now. I don't even know if can ever see a horse again.
The mindset, she did not have it yet, WTF was it so difficult for the father and the instructor to understand? I should have explained.
|Quoting QFA380 (Reply 7):|
This may also be taken out of context, but how badly did the horse come out? I am just curious.
It was fine, it's rare for a horse to get injured significantly in this sport, as opposed to horse racing.
|Quoting ABfemme (Reply 4):|
Go to the funeral - you owe it to her and her Father
I went to the funeral and the mass, but I'm furious beyond mad rage at him. HE
OVERRULED ME and know there's the result. He must be in a lot of pain, of course, maybe later I'll go to him and talk, just not now, I want to KILL him. I understand that if I'm like this, I can't even imagine the pain her family must be in, though.
Thankyou for that good advice, I am already seeing a psychiatrist, I'm not ashamed of it, It is helping much.
Again, thanks a lot for your understanding. It's great that I can come here and "talk" about it, it releases some feelings, even if temporarily.