After spending Saturday night basking in the glow of our successful cross country trip, and partaking in Blue Moon and pub food (the best kind), our entire party attempted to get a good night’s sleep and prepare for the last and final phase of the event. The showjumping course consisted of a whole bunch of bending lines and a few rollbacks thrown in for good measure, and seemed like it would ride quite nicely.
When I got to warm up, it appeared to be a circus. Immediately while hugging the rail we encountered issues as another rider blazed up Foster’s bum and sent him (and myself) into a minor tizzy. I tried to regroup, and jump a couple fences, noticing that we didn’t have quite the energy I would have preferred to be jumping with. Since we were several rides out, I decided to let Foster walk around and conserve energy, and when the rider before us went in, we would do a quick hand gallop to get the forward momentum, jump a fence, and go in.
Just as started to put this plan into effect, disaster struck
(mildly exaggerating here). I began my canter around the outside of the arena, and noticed a rider playing chicken with me on the rail. In my dealings with this rider (yelling ‘Outside! Outside!’ and attempting to pass on the right as ring etiquette demands), I failed to observe the dog sitting most sneakily just outside the arena. Foster, on the other hand, found the canine highly offensive and promptly threw on the brakes, spinning and throwing his head backwards with impressive velocity, straight into mine. Completely and literally sideswiped by the events, I sat there in the saddle, head in hands, trying to get a grip on the immediate headache that was pounding away under my helmet.
At this moment, J rushed over and offered me water and helped me get a grip on myself. She also, as politely as possible, mentioned that I needed to head over to the arena, and that if I didn’t, I could be eliminated. Great.
With that, I promptly decided I was not going to fall off, I was going to go forward, and in order to do that, I was going to proverbially light a fire under my horse’s ass. I went into the arena and determined to keep my leg on through the entire performance, come hell or high water, and that was that.
Of course we started out by bringing down the first rail. I needed to have him sit up as well as go forward, so that was my fault. Coming around to fence 2, which looked oddly huge, I did my best to lift his balance and get him really in front of my leg, which was successful, but lacked some of the preparation needed for the rollback to fence 3. I’m pleased with the way 4 and 5 went, and especially happy with the way the oxer-to-vertical 2 stride rode, since our habit can be to not have enough power into the first element and then have to scramble to get over the second. Turn right to fence 7, another bending line to fence 8, which he left long and got a little flat, bringing down our second rail on course. Rollback to 9, bending line to 10, and done.
Overall, I can’t complain. Half of my division had rails, so I was not alone in my mistakes. For my part though, it’s not the prettiest riding, as I sacrificed a bit of finesse in favor of the forward going ride, but I like the pace set in the video. I know with a bit more preparation I can focus on my equitation, so that will come. And again with fitness, I was still able to come under time in the showjumping phase, even though Foster had run up a mountain the day before. Many, many things to be happy about, and lessons learned for future shows!
As our first recognized show, I thought this weekend was quite successful. A 30 in dressage, double clear cross country, and 2 rails in showjumping leaves us in a great place to improve for our next outing. We both learned a lot, and I laughed a lot, along the way. Here are some of the tips, tricks, and mistakes I learned not to make from the experience:
- Not even power cords are safe from Foster’s mouth. His stall must essentially be puppy-proofed for every outing.
- Too much blue lotion = purple tail. Snazzy, but not part of our color scheme.
- Give more time than less time for warmups, I’ll thank me later.
- Helmet cams are awesome, but they have audio- try to say less stupid things next time 🙂
- Don’t be late for the start box!
- Keep riding every fence!
- Balance up, and hind legs under!
- Bleach pens are white jods’ best friend
And the biggest lesson learned….
KEEP KICKING ON!