For some reason, I thought I had typed up a post about our brief but dramatic foray into the land of the 1.10m, but as it turns out, I hadn't. I suppose it's worth its own post, so this is not all bad.
The beginning is as good a place to start as any. Thursday morning, despite the aid of extended-release Ambien, came early at around 6:30 AM. Since the 1.10m quite literally ran at the very end of the day, this was not an ideal wake up time. I was feeling okay enough to suck down breakfast - this could have been due in part to having eaten nothing other than a small but mighty breakfast in the past 48 hours - and then attempted to distract myself with the following, rather unsuccessfully:
b) computer games
c) the dogs
d) horse show videos
e) texting anyone who would respond about how much I wanted to puke (this did not lead to very many responses, if anyone is curious.)
I finally just gave up and drove to the horse show around 11, figuring that if I wasn't riding, at least watching other people ride would be Fun and Relaxing. Right? RIGHT?!?!
Upon my arrival I was cheerfully informed that Trainer would be peacing out in about 30 minutes which led to extreme panic about who would coach me for my 1.10m debut. In due course I was assured he would be returning and directed to either enjoy a delicious shot of the alcohol of my choice or take a Xanax. I chose neither. Perhaps that was my first mistake?
This all led to a long, looooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooong day of watching various jumpers jump jumps and picking off my nail polish since I couldn't figure out what to do with myself. There was also some pacing and some purposeful walking the mile trek between the barn and show rings multiple times.
At some point around the hour of darkness (ha) the 1.10m class finally walked. I walked it myself, noting the one rather tricky line of a bending seven or six to a dobule that had been somewhat killing people all day, then Assistant appeared thirty seconds before they closed the ring for walking and we slowly meandered about while the first horse in the ring's rider glared impatiently at us. Trainer also showed up around this time, enthusiastically stuffing poutine down his throat, and directed me to tell him the course. He was not remotely amused by my pet names for the jumps ("first, this enormous oxer that appears to have teeth...") and our horses appeared in short order. Since I was sort of moving backward, he decided to do his young horse first then come back to school me. This turned out to be rather fortuitous.
I flatted fine, did all the right things to prepare for jumping, then we started to warm up. And here is where it all began to unravel. I saw the short one, then the pull-to-the-base one, then the OH-MY-GOD-PULL-HARDER-TO-THE-BASE one, followed by the "you cannot fucking pull to the base again OH MY GOD GALLOP GALLOPPPPPP" followed by basically three more fences of crazed galloping. This eventually culminated in coming through the turn to what might have been a 2'9" (if that) oxer, basically kicking Riley and making him run as fast as he could toward the jump, where he proceeded to save both our lives by chipping in at the last minute. This resulted in me losing my reins, my crop going flying and me more or less landing on Riley's neck as he threw in a few little crowhops to prove his annoyance. He had his Scowly Riley face on, which does not come out too often but when I do something disconcertingly stupid it will appear.
I had managed to pull up somewhere at the end of the ring, face burning with shame, and totally lost it. We're talking hyperventilation, couldn't breathe, involuntary tears, that whole bit. And of course, Trainer's quiet French-accented voice wafted through the air, "Come see me."
So I did. And I stood there, not looking at anyone, and he kind of studied me for a minute and said, "it's okay, just take a breath." So I did. And then took another one, and we just stood there for a minute. And then he ignored the Full On Crazy and said, "so, we need to work on establishing the rhythm, no? We will work on the flat now." He then gave me some of the directions noted below in the post about our lesson, which I don't really feel like re-typing, regarding the use of full and half seats and told me to go canter and work on this. Forward, back, REALLY back, then forward, then back, then normal, now canter the jump. OK, a little too much, back to normal, now forward, now back, now around me, now forward, now normal, now jump. Very patient, very calm, very low pressure.
By this point, I had missed my call for the round by a factor of about, I don't know, five rides or something, and the in-gate person was asking where I was.
Trainer very quietly adjusted the fences upward when I was coming around the corner and (supposedly, though of course I noticed) paying attention and we finished on a very rampy oxer that might have been 3'3", but that was about as good as it was going to get.
Walking down to the ring, he looked at me very seriously and said, "All you need to do is jump two jumps. That is all. If there is any point when you do not feel comfortable, circle. I do not care. If you land or if you are going to a jump and you don't feel good, make a circle. It does not matter. Today is just about a challenge."
Okay. Even I could deal with that. Maybe.
We were alone with the Barn Manager the last minute or so before we went in, and it really, REALLY hit me that I had to go next and jump this course. So I proceeded to REALLY lose it, sobbing and just totally unable to function. Apparently I totally scared Barn Manager, who quite literally forced me to repeat the course to her, then she sent me off.
I sent Riley in the ring at a walk, a sluggish one at that and he seemed mildly concerned about this and very quiet. After I started to trot, he puffed back into Show Ring Riley and I felt like I had a horse under me, and then the buzzer went, and... it was time to go.
I set off in a canter toward jump one, a slightly spooky barn-and-cowboy-shadow vertical, which Riley sized up and decided he didn't like that much. I kicked on and went over it nicely, then moved up slightly for the five strides to an oxer coming out of the line. On landing it felt HUGE and I'm pretty sure I landed somewhere in the vicinity of Riley's ears. But we shook it off and went toward jump 3, another tremendous oxer on a rollback off the ingate. I found a lovely forward distance to this, followed by a dog-leg turn to the left to a nice vertical. Then I had to set up for the tricky line, the seven or the six to a two-stride combination, oxer on the way in. All day this had been tripping people up - it was either a get-it-done six or a stay-the-hell-out seven and many people had come in, not made the right decision either way, and done six and a half. I had walked and, based on Riley's stride and my interest in not getting the deep one to an oxer combination, decided to do the six. And damn if I wasn't proud of how we landed, looked, and locked on to the perfect six strides. He jumped through like a champ, then we turned left after a longish gallop again. Here, I made my first real mistake, and did an "OH MY GOD I SEE THE REALLY FORWARD ONE", told Riley to GO and ended up leaving a stride out where it really should not have been left out and causing one of those really cute 3-legged jumps that everyone loves, but somehow staying clear. This also led to me sitting like an idiot, not getting him back until four strides before the next jump, another massive oxer, and getting the front rail. Not a huge deal, though. From there we turned right to a line down the outside, a big black and white oxer, and Riley (or me? I'm not even sure) stuttered off the ground which led to him overjumping it by about two feet and some very strangled sounds emanating from the video. From there, five strides to a one-stride, which was absolutely perfect somehow, then another dog leg turn around the outside to finish on a skinny vertical, which we cleared.... to.....
And we finished.
Shout out to Riley for putting up with his psychotic rider. He was a superstar, jumped like a total hero, and the thing I noticed (after I'd taken off my Panic Glasses) was that jumping that height felt unbelievably *easy* for him - where it hadn't before. So there's that....
There is some photographic evidence from this class, but most of it is pretty ugly.
However. It must be said, again, that we finished. This is the first 1.10m we have actually ever completed. I am so very proud of Riley, and yes, even proud of myself, though I wish I could have ridden like less of a total asshole. But hey, it is what it is.
1.40s here we come...?