Today was the first horse show I've actually planned on attending in about two years.
Sure, I've gone to a few others over that period of time, but realistically? It's been about two years since I've seriously shown. 2011 was a big year; I spent 70% of the summer wandering around horse shows and enjoying the hell out of myself (while also carefully growing some ulcers...) and moving up from the 2'9" hunters to the 1.10m jumpers during the span of the season. In 2012, my darling horse managed to tear his check ligament about ten days prior to the start of the show season, which put him (and me!) on rehab duty until October, effectively missing out on any horse shows. In December, I purchased a new horse - a not terribly experienced 7 year old Dutch gelding who had shown to 1.15m, and had a lot of room to move up. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons (chief among them being his disinterest in putting up with my amateur-ness) I sat out most of the 2013 season as well. I finally got fed up and leased a lovely, hand-holding ex-event horse for a few horse shows, which led to doing the 0.90m Olympic cycle after a few brief meltdowns about whether or not I was still capable of jumping three entire feet.
Beyond that, during the 2013 season, our head trainer - someone whom I held dear to my heart - left my barn midsummer, and we were all at loose ends under the care of the assistant. She Scotch-taped things together until it was announced... drumroll... that the barn's new head trainer would be a current Olympian.
For some reason, this dragged me from general angst and depression regarding our wonderful sport of showjumping and caused me to have a revelation, of sorts - I wanted to *be* the kind of rider that an Olympian would spend their time on. Somehow, this evolved into "I'm going to be a Grand Prix rider, DAMMIT" and "SEND ME TO ANY FENCE, I WILL JUMP IT OR DIE TRYING." and "WEF OR BUST BITCHES!!!!" Indeed, a far cry from where I had started four years previous, mildly interested in learning how to jump a horse, and not really caring if I ever attended another horse show.
The Olympian, who to this day intimidates the motherloving f*** out of me, despite being an incredibly nice person, spearheaded an interesting exchange of horses that led to me riding three separate equines (along with the one I still owned) over the course of about two months. Somehow - I'm still not sure how the world managed to align this one! - this ended with me going back to the horse I'd leased and shown in 2011 and rehabbed through 2012, Riley.
This wasn't an unwelcome proposition in the slightest, since I'd managed to form quite a partnership and relationship with Riley, whom I consider something of an equine soulmate. When I first started with him, he was a green six year old who was still working on learning walk to canter departs, and we really built a great relationship with one another.
However, he'd been out on lease, and had some medical issues which required attending to. It took a few months, and since this all occurred whilst Shiny New Trainer was off riding in Nations Cups down at the Winter Equestrian Festival, it worked out. By the time he returned in April, we were as ready as we could be.
In the month he's been back, we've had a few pretty interesting experiences.
- A week after his return, we jumped 1.20m in a course without really even thinking about it and I went "gee, this is fun"
- This then morphed into jumping 1.35m (it was on the "out" of a six stride line, to qualify...) without really thinking about too hard about it, and going "holy SHIT that was fun"
- I managed to get my saint of a horse to dump me into a 3'6" square oxer because I LIKE TO PULL
- I managed to not die from this terrifying (seriously.) experience and live to jump a 3'6" oxer which was something like 4'6" or 5' wide because my trainer loves nothing more than to torture me/us. My therapist says he carefully observes how to challenge me without killing me, which is a much more positive way of looking at it, and seems a lot nicer. But who knows, really........
- I have managed to jump actual 3'6" courses and been pretty okay with it.
- Doubles and triple combinations no longer scare the total shit out of me. They're not my favorites, or anything, but they're not that bad anymore.
- Somehow this has morphed into enough bravery to hack all over the farm (and horse show, for that matter) which is something that used to scare the crap out of my poor shriveled soul and now seems laughably easy
- I've inhaled more secondhand smoke than I care to admit, thanks to a certain trainer who has a cigarette forever present. And I not-so-secretly enjoy it. Uh, hi, I have a problem.
So? On to horse showing, and a year filled with inspiration and fun... I'm sure it's going to be a wild ride!