Monday, 2 June 2014

Horse Showing In Springtime

Long story short, I got a little swept up in the nonstop action (and, you know, ensuing exhaustion) to make updates after that first day of the show.  So a recap!

After my 80cm warm-up class, we moved up to 90cm (which is about three feet) the following day.  This went extremely well, and led to moving up to the 1.0m (3'3") division for the weekend.  This surprised me - I had anticipated being at 90cm at least that weekend, if not for a few weeks, but I felt prepared enough and the 1.0m looked oddly tiny, so after the suggestion was made I decided to go with the flow.

So I did the 1.0m Jr/Am division on the weekend.  Saturday went extremely well - I was thrilled with my videos, and happy with the way I rode and the way my horse went.  We finished with one rail in the first round, an immediate jumpoff class, then led the second class (a speed round) for some time before eventually being bumped down to 8th.  I was fairly happy with this - the division is enormous, usually with 50 or 60 entries, and I hadn't intended to really ride for a ribbon, just have some good rounds.

I did the 1.0m again the next day, this time with a barn mate, and had a mediocre first round with some time faults (grrrrr) which eventually landed us another 8th place.  The horse show organizers decided to run both 1.0m classes at the same time, since they were going at the end of the day and there were two jumper rings available.  Unfortunately, they decided this AFTER we had walked and were warming up for the first class - which meant that we missed the walk for the second class.  This was not exactly ideal.

After we finished up with our first class, we rode over to the second ring and Trainer read off the course to us from the gate, then watched two horses go in order to figure out the striding in the lines.  This all happened in the span of, oh, I don't know, three minutes.

Remember that whole thing about how I don't remember courses well, and take an obscene amount of time, walking, and gesticulating to memorize them? Keep this in mind, dear readers.

The course was a Power and Speed, which means you complete the first section of the course (usually seven or eight jumps) and if you're clear at that point, move immediately - no stopping in between - to the Speed portion, which is another six or seven efforts.  They're really fun, and probably my favorite type of class to ride.  However, I landed after the last jump of the Power portion and realized I had absolutely no idea where I was going.  I looked around frantically, hoping the course would give me a clue, and almost figured it out soon enough - but there just was not enough space to pull my bewildered horse around and direct his nose to the center of the jump.  So, we circled around and proceeded to finish the course in good style.  I was actually really pleased with the second part of the course, minus our foible!  I guess we weren't the only ones who royally messed up, either - somehow we wound up 7th.

The next week, we shipped in on Tuesday and I did a 1.0m schooling on Thursday.  My horse was, to put it mildly, quite fresh and landed after the first jump in the course, put his head down, crowhopped a bit and refused to steer at all (some of the video stills are pretty hilarious) which resulted in missing jump two, an oxer on a bending line to the left of jump one.  So we circled around, jumped, and he proceeded to drag me around the rest of the course.  It somehow looked fantastic on video, but I was probably in control, oh, maybe 25% of the round, if that.

After coming out of the ring for that one, Trainer was (inexplicably....) very happy with the round, despite the fact that I ALMOST DIED, and suggested I move up to 1.10m on the weekend.  At which time I almost barfed all over his Parlantis and looked at him with horror in my eyes, declined that lovely suggestion and decided to stick with the 1.0m - which led to, "well, if it goes well on Saturday, we'll just move you up on Sunday instead."  This also led to much "WHY AREN'T YOU DOING THE 1.10M?!" from my barnmates, and I wavered slightly, but stuck with my decision.

Saturday dawned and I arrived at the show to find chaos.  My friend had moved up that morning to the 1.10m, and unfortunately was a bit overfaced, resulting in a nasty fall and the medic.  Another barnmate was warming up for her hunter division and ended up on her head, which led to her being taken to the hospital.

That stuff? FREAKS ME OUT.  In the worst way.  So I kind of (okay, totally) lost it and started sobbing, and couldn't mentally get my shit together.  It was a rough morning, and I was really happy with my decision to stick with the 1.0m.  It was hard enough pulling myself together to do a class I felt fairly confident doing, and really not the day to move up.

But I warmed up, then went and rode, and it was okay.  I didn't ride my best and got a lot of distances I didn't love.  I guess it didn't look as bad as it felt, but my negative voice was working overtime.

My second course was better - not great, but better.  It was a mentally exhausting day, and when we were done, I hopped off my noble equine and collapsed in the sitting area, and allowed the grooms to take care of my horse, which isn't something I usually do.  After multiple bottles of Gatorade and a short nap I felt much better and spent a little time with friends + Trainer at the exhibitors' party.

Sunday, I went down to our first 1.0m class, and informed Riley that if he was a good boy we wouldn't do the second class.  Our warm-up was okay - a little slow but I was hitting my distances bang on.  My friend, who had crashed the day before, did the 1.0m division with me and decided to go in the ring first.  Unfortunately, his horse slid into an oxer right in front of the gate, then got a little sticky in some of the other areas of the course.  This freaked me out and caused me to start hyperventilating quietly near the gate, but also acted as a wake-up call that I needed to give Riley a wake-up call.  So we trotted in, I gave him a swat with my stick, and off we went.

It was imperfect... but it was a redeeming sort of course.  I thought "FORWARD!" and forward we went. It wasn't my best course.  But we got the job done, and I felt like I was really involved.  We had, uh, a bit of a gap into a triple combination - not my best decision - but made it out alive and finished well, ranking 8th at the end of it.  A crappy ribbon, but I was pleased nonetheless, because we SURVIVED, and even flourished.  Shit happens in this sport, and it really is all about how you deal with it.

Toddling back to the barn, I passed Trainer, sitting on his golf cart, who looked at me and said "GOOD!"

So I guess it ended okay.

We live to fight another day.

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