Thursday, 24 July 2014

Horse showing is fun... right? RIGHT?!?!


Je arrives in beautiful Québec to beautiful horsey show.  Magically happen to arrive at the same time as everyone else driving in.  Not sure how this happened since they managed to do 2/3 of the drive before I actually got out of bed.  We all tack up our very cute ponies and go for a hack.  It turns out the rings are all open for flatting - which basically NEVER happens in Jumper Land, but was a very good thing indeed since the rings are spooky as hell.  We went approximately all ways but forward for a little while before Riley settled in and gave me a really lovely flat.  Following this we hacked around the (enormous) show grounds a little and proceeded to go just about every way but forwards once more.  You win some, you lose some.

The day was not (of course, it's a horse show) without drama.  My barn originally had 11 horses going, and ended up with only six present, due to varying forms of disaster (colic, sickness, riders pulling out at the last second for god knows what reason.)  Along with this one of the owners, coming to observe, managed to lose their SUV off the back of their motor home not once, but twice, and ended up stranded on the side of the road for most of the day Tuesday.  Apparently there was a lot of wine involved after that happened - bonuses to being a passenger in a motor home, I suppose.  Mr. Riley also managed to wake up with a laceration along his forehead, who knows how he managed THAT, but didn't seem bothered by it.

Because Riley was Mr. Perky Pants we decided I should show up and flat at the unrealistically painful hour of 7am before the show started.  Trainer musingly put us in the 90cm (3ft) to start as a warm-up class "because I have not seen you in a while" and you know, my reputation of sucking at riding apparently precedes me.  I'm all, wutever, it's 3ft who cares it will be fun/stress free/etc.  And still took am Ambien at 8pm in order to make sure I got a solid night's sleep.  Because will be Champion or something.


Alarm goes off at some disgusting hour, I check out my hotel's free breakfast buffet which appears to contain only pastries (though a substantial collection), juice, fruit, and no coffee (which is UNACCEPTABLE, amirite.)  It was very nice by most standards but for someone who doesn't eat carbs I was less than entirely enthused.

Appear at horse show, very casual, hop on waiting Pony (sometimes having a groom at the horse shows is REALLY NICE) and have a *lovely* flat.  Hop off Pony, walk course, hop back on Pony, casually wander up to warmup.  Stress level low, life is gravy, and warmup proceeded to go like so:

Trainer: Let's change a bunch of shit about your riding RIGHT NOW!
Me: Okay! It's only 3ft and I haven't seen you in two weeks and we're at a new horse show in a new place, what could possibly go wrong!

Can anyone see where this is going?

After a less than totally awesome warm-up we headed down to the gate and went in the ring.  Trainer is all "DO THE ADDS" so I'm like ahright I will make this look like the most awesome equitation course that ever was.  Bearing in mind that we also changed Riley's usual show bit to something a wee stronger which might actually make the adds possible.

So we go in, I pick up a casual canter, and he charges the first jump.  I'm all, NOT COOL and set him back and we do the add... plus two.  (Ugh.)  It looked very lovely but obviously I had zero rhythm.  Come around the corner, jump an oxer, then a rather evil bending dog leg in some random amount of strides (8-11, depending on how you rode it) to a vertical-oxer in and out. And here is where things went horribly, horribly wrong.

I was like, lol casual canter! Oh let's move forward oh wait no shit okay let's chip!!! Oh fuck now I think we have to do two strides in this in and out oh well it will be fine c'mon Riley! And he was just like, "lol?" and slammed on the brakes and spun left hard.  So I went flying off and used my head as a stopping point on the way down and landed directly between the front and back poles of the oxer.  Fantastique, non?

I had to sit there for a moment to make sure I wasn't dead, which of course gave the medic time to come screaming up, so there was this whole to-do but long story short I was fine.  Come out of ring, Trainer spends a lot of time going over all the things I sucked at doing (which was a very long list of which I heard approximately nothing since I was really busy trying not to break down in toddler-like tears) and then he's like ok let's get back on and do it again.  And I'm like, oh great.  Can we at least jump some jumps first.... so we went back to the warm-up ring, jumped exactly two verticals and then went again.  I'm all, you know there is literally no way this could happen again, I have gotten the worst out of the way, ha ha everyone falls off whatever.

Can anyone guess what happened next....?

That's right. Twice within about 10 minutes, the same fucking jump on the same fucking course, at THREE FEET.  I am mortified and irritated and angry and terrified all at the same time.

This time it was probably only 60% my fault - I had a slow distance in, and then kicked and he was just like "UM LOL YOU'RE HILARIOUS HAHAHA FUK U" and slammed on the brakes and then went trotting off like an Arab.  I hit the dirt (in the same imprint, basically) and was just like, are you serious? REALLY?

So this time I came out and Trainer kind of stared at me with concern (which is different from the usual where he laughs at you when you fall off...) and goes "hmm tomorrow I will school him."

There is a silver lining to all of this: due to whacking my head and ruining my $700 SpeedAir (sobbing. really.) I got to buy a new helmet! Which my credit card hates me for. But I'm now the proud owner of a Samshield! I think it makes me look like a bobblehead but the choices were a bit slim, and I was so NOT dropping $800 on a new SpeedAir.

Some 20 minutes after I rode (or really, didn't ride) the skies opened, the thunder cameth and the entire show was rained out and cancelled for the day.  So I went back to my hotel, sulked for a while, then took a really nice nap before going out for drinks with my barn fwends.


After threats of making me show after Trainer rode, I showed up at the truly ungodly hour of 6:30 AM.  I mean my hotel didn't even have breakfast going at that hour.  So unfair.  I walked my course then cooled my heels for awhile waiting for Trainer to actually show up, discovering during this time that they were only allowing single trips in the schooling classes since they had double the entries for the day due to the day prior's raining out.  This perked me up greatly, since it meant I didn't have to ride - and this turned out rather well since my neck, shoulders, left rotator cuff and upper arm, left hip, tailbone, right hip, right thigh and right calf all have rather spectacular bruises.  But mostly it's my neck and damn it hurts.

Trainer eventually put in an appearance and hopped on Riley.  He's never actually jumped him before... he flatted him exactly once back in November, so I was really looking forward to observing.  Trainer has a reputation for being able to ride absolutely anything and make it look like a million bucks, but Riley was extremely unamused.  He basically flattened his ears and sulked his way around the ring warming up until they started jumping, then Mildly Happy Riley appeared, but he was still sucked back and kind of going backwards and looked very annoyed by the whole process.  I kind of had to laugh since I'd forgotten how pissy he gets when new people ride him.

We all trooped down to watch him sail around the ring, and he was extremely grumpy and sticky.  Irritable chips, wouldn't come off Trainer's leg, going backwards.  Coming to the first in and out, an oxer to vertical, Trainer basically bashed him with his legs and cowboyed him forward and then he jumped through it nicely; same thing with the second in and out.  Trainer finished with a bit of a scowl then proceeded to inform the gate person he was going again.  Which was easily the most entertaining part of the day, since they argued back and forth for about five minutes, something like "I want to go again" "well no we're only doing single trips today because there are so many people." "But your ring is empty.... if I go again right now it does not matter I will inconvenience nobody."  "Well no you can't." "What you don't want to make money? Come on we are here to school. Just let me go again this is ridiculous." "Um no you can't" "Radio the office and tell them it is me." <Gate guy does so, drops the name in the process.>  "OK you can go...."
There was a lot more to it than that but we were all sitting up on the hill watching and dying of laughter.

The second round was oodles better, I could still see him being sticky and then spurting forward and then dropping behind the bit again but it was infinitely better than it was.

Trainer finished, hopped off, murmured a few words about him and then looks at me and goes "he is tricky eh?"

Um so long story short I'm very lucky to have a Trainer who can do that and make it all work.

But now I have to show tomorrow.

I'm stuck between mild apathy, mild terror, and mild nausea.  On the one hand I feel okay and on the other I'm pretty sure as soon as I get on I'm going to crap my pants.   I really can't win.  And I really don't want to break my new helmet on its first ride.

Pray for me.


  1. Omg you handled that so much better than I would have. I would have burst straight into tears at the second fall and then picked a new hobby... like showing cats... or goats. Hang in there! You guys will be great tomorrow :)

  2. I was so MAD after the second fall that I made sure my horse was okay and then stomped off and nobody would talk to me for 10 minutes! Not my usual M.O. but jeeeeez... neither is falling off twice in one day! Believe me, I'm definitely still considering taking up cat or goat showing, or perhaps basket weaving or knitting. I pretty much made up my mind to quit riding for about three hours yesterday but time is a great healer ;) And there's something about being at a horse show that makes you want to jump! Anyway, thanks for the well wishes, I hope you're right!! :)

  3. Oh my gosh! Cray - cray drama!!!
    Glad you're ok & got a shiny new helmet in the process. Wishing you well wear with it.
    I'm keeping everything crossed for a more straightforward day of showing this time!

  4. Yikes, two falls in one day. Yay for the BNT though!