Today, however, I showed. I entered both 1.0m classes, which should have been NBD for me. For some annoying reason today I got really, really nervous about it, though. When we were walking, I was staring down some of the oxers and going, OH MY GOD WHY ARE THESE SO BIG. Yes, back to that shit again. In watching one of the 90cm classes that went previously I was thinking they looked like 1m, and the 1m looked like 1.10m. In reality I think they were just maxed out. A 1.0m square oxer is not a super tiny thing, not when you're standing next to it.
I ended up having my first real experience with our New Assistant during the course walk for the first course. She was helpful and obviously knows her stuff and I enjoyed her quite a bit. So that's a good start!
I hopped on Mr. Riley and got to warming up and it all started very nicely, lots of really good jumps until we got to the final oxer toward the end and I just freaked out. For some reason I was having a lot of difficulty finding *anything* off the right lead and tried to steady, then steadied too much, and ended up just breaking to a trot and halt three times in a row. Trainer was annoyingly silent and just told me to figure it out which I was feeling very happy about. Finally the fourth time I totally buried him but we made it over and then we went down to a vertical that I also jumped like crap and then Trainer said "let's go." I felt anything but ready. We had some time and I just kind of completely lost it while waiting to go in, like hysterical sobbing kinda thing. I felt really unprepared and horrible. Barn Manager eventually wandered over and did her usual pep talk and I told her I just really, really wanted to go back to the barn, which is not something I'm actually serious about ever, but was today. She was like, fine, you can tell Trainer you aren't riding then! And then he wandered over, and she was like, are you going to tell him? And I told her to shut up and Trainer lightly poked fun at me sobbing and carrying on like a moron and then suddenly it was my turn and I stopped crying and sorted it out.
I was terrified, *knew* I was going to fall off and ruin my THIRD helmet this summer and just... I don't know. I haven't lost it that badly in a really, really long time. But I swear it's like someone different shows up when I get in the ring. It's kind of bizarre. I showed Riley all the scary things and then got started.
I originally planned on approaching jump one, an oxer coming up the middle of the ring from a decently long approach, off the right lead, but decided instead to approach from the left since my right lead oxers weren't going so well. We came up on this okay, but I second guessed my approach, legged him up a little too much and then had to steady the last three strides and we were a little bit short, but it was a decent start after what had happened in warmup. Of course jump two was a triple bar (NEMESIS) off a short inside turn and I was totally panicking about this because of course the last time I showed I fell off over a triple bar and, in fact, it was THE EXACT SAME TRIPLE BAR (same jump colors and construction) in almost exactly the same place. I was one sad cookie when I saw that. However, I used an opening rein and kept my canter through the turn and it came up just beautifully off a slightly forward canter. From there it was a nice six (which walked in six and a half, but rode very nicely in the six for me) to a vertical, then a left turn to a sort-of short corner and a two-stride oxer-vertical. We hit the oxer slightly short, which was fine and set up the distance to the vertical out beautifully. He jumped through this combination really well and I was actually quite pleased to see the work we've been doing with teaching him about shorter distances paying off. In the past, he jumped like a frog and sort of scrambled over them when they weren't perfect, but he's starting to figure out how to actually plant his legs and use himself better. Quite gratifying.
Next up was a lengthy gallop to an oxer on a no-number long bending line, then a swift rollback to a Swedish oxer (second nemesis.) The oxer came up a wee long but easily out of stride. I felt that I rode the rollback well, saw the patient distance to the Swedish, cleared it quite nicely and then bent in eight strides to a vertical. From there, a right turn took us to a skinny set on the diagonal, then a steady bending six to a vertical-oxer one stride. We were patient to the skinny, which set up the steady six well, and were quite good through the one-stride. From there it was a quick turn left to a vertical, then six strides to the last oxer. Well, it was a Speed class, and my horse has a big step, and we had a big jump in to the vertical so.... I asked for the five and there it was. He jumped the line like the superstar he is and actually jumped the oxer very well - then went flying off into the sunset. When I finally brought him back to earth he was prancing and snorting and arching his neck; it was totally adorable, he was so proud of himself. And I was proud of him too! It was definitely one of the nicer rounds I've ever ridden. I was REALLY pleased with the smoothness and flow of the whole thing - particularly after our horrifying warmup.
EXTREMELY PERFECT PONY
Trainer thought my freaking out was hilarious after the fact, which... bleh. I dunno. I was kind of annoyed by the whole situation but I was in that kind of mood today so I don't really know what to make of it.
Anyway many hours later my second 1.0m class finally got going and we somehow ended up literally going last in the order. Our warm-up was good until we hit another oxer off the right lead and the same thing started happening. This time I went over to Trainer and asked him WTF was going on and for some help. He suggested doing some lengthening and shortening, but in shortening to really keep my leg on and push Riley's hind end up and make him actually collect instead of puking on himself. And also to look up the last stride. We did this and were immediately successful - I just wish it had been suggested sooner but at least we got it fixed eventually!
I was much less nervous going in the ring and felt pretty in the zone.
Jump one was a diagonal way at the top of the ring, a vertical from the left lead. We hit this nicely. Jump two was an immediate rollback to the Swedish, which was a bit tricksy since it meant you had to have good rhythm and pace right away and could easily lull you into being too slow. We got to this jump really really nicely and were right on pace. The next line actually walked in a nine but I moved up slightly and got it done in eight since it had been very easy to do in the class previous. After this we turned right and jumped up the middle of the ring over the single oxer, which was quite lovely, then a left turn to the line coming toward the in-gate. I got there really well, then steadied hard for the six, and he jumped out of the line really beautifully. From there, a left turn to a skinny that came up quickly enough, and I came forward a hair then sat back too soon to try and get the steady six done for the next line, and so he caught the rail behind - totally my fault and my only real irritating mistake in the course. But we got the nice steady six done, he jumped through the in and out great, and then it was a long gallop back to that inside turn leading to the triple bar. I felt I had little choice but to go inside since the time allowed was tight enough and everyone who had gone outside to that point had gotten time faults, so inside it was. However I saw it literally nine strides away, which is pretty much impossible around a turn but somehow magically occurred. We hit it on the PERFECT forward momentum, and it honestly felt like the best jump of the course. Then I didn't steady quiiiiite enough until the last minute and we were tight in the six stride, but through it fine, and left turn to the two stride to finish, which I hit a squidge long but was NBD, I just steadied a mite in there and came out well.
Once again please be gentle when observing videos :)
I was really pleased with both my rounds, with the accuracy, the flow, and general feeling of having nailed it. My second round *felt* better while I was riding it... the rhythm and pace felt more jumper-y, I felt super tall and strong and unshakeable, my leg position felt really good and Riley felt fantastic. I don't think I'll forget the turn and jump to that triple bar for a long time, though it doesn't look like anything too special on the video.
All in all very pleased with the day, now I'm off to bed to do it all again in about nine hours!