I passed on going to the Windridge HT this past weekend (reluctantly) in favor of going to a local jumper show so I could get around some courses. Because SJ is the worst phase for me and if I fell off, well, at least I didn’t blow an entire competition…again.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was half looking at FB leading up to the weekend to see if anyone was selling an entry, though.
But it was for the best.
The jumper show started at 9 and was half an hour away, so I planned to head out at 8. Luckily I got to the barn ahead of schedule because this is what I found:
After a quick bath and a few minutes of standing him in front of the 2 industrial fans in the barn, we headed out only a few minutes late. P was obviously distraught when we arrived at the show grounds.
If there’s one thing I can (usually) count on, it’s that when we get somewhere new, P will be a rockstar. He’s the type you can tie to the trailer and leave alone, as long as he has hay. He’s also the type that will stand under the registration tent and nuzzle you while you fill out your entry form. Ask me how I know. Ah, the joys of showing alone. But really, for all his under-saddle spookiness, he’s got some great ground manners.
Anyway, I got on just as they were ending schooling, so we didn’t get to do much. I watched the 2′ classes go so I could learn the course and it was fairly straightforward. The only jump I was little unsure about was the skinny at 5. It was really narrow and P has never jumped a skinny, so uhhhh, ok. Then 6 was a forward 4 or collected 5 to a 1 stride, which I was actually looking forward to since we just schooled that at Trainer B’s. That would be my undoing.
We went in the 2’3″ to use as a warmup, and everything was going fine until the one stride. I got in a little weird to 6 because I’m me, but then P slammed on the brakes at the fence going into the combination. I’ll get more into that below. I kicked him, backed him up and he went right over, then continued like nothing had happened. Only watch if you don’t mind the F bomb going down when P stops- sometimes I wonder who gets more irritated when he stops, me or him.
My original plan had been to use 2’3″ as a warmup, then go to 2’6″, but I decided to go into the other 2’3″ class for another go-round. When in Jumper Land, jump all the rounds you can, right? If I’d gotten there earlier, I would’ve gone in all the 2′ classes also. This time there were no stops and even coming into the combination, P felt locked and loaded. Again, weird distances were to be had by his incompetent rider, but he didn’t hold a thing against me.
Then we went to 2’6″ and unfortunately Husband didn’t hear my name being called, so he missed the first 2 jumps, which were fantastic. We smoothed out the line from 8 to 9 and while it still wasn’t perfect, P felt great. Confidence boosting all around.
I was pleasantly surprised when we got 5th place both Power & Speed classes (out of 15 and 12, respectively) because speed was not on the agenda for the day. I honestly can’t even tell you where power ended and speed began, but I’m always happy to take a ribbon or 2 or 3 or 4….just give me all the ribbons.
So here are the takeaways:
- I do wish I had watched the videos between rounds because immediately my first thought when watching any of them was, “That is NOT enough canter.” We got in to some weird spots, courtesy of yours truly, that I think would’ve been fixed if I’d asked him to go more forward. But I suppose that was the point of going to this and doing multiple rounds.
- Jumper shows can be quite scary. I mean, I didn’t have the guts to watch some of these riders go around. Some just looked positively unsafe. There was one little girl who rode in the 2′ classes who, no doubt, is a very gutsy rider. But there’s no need to go flying around a 2′ course leaning off your horse like he’s a motorcycle. If that saint of a horse had put one foot out of line she would’ve gone flying. And everyone was clapping for her. No. Just stop. That’s dangerous. I get that jumpers is about speed, but let’s keep it safe, shall we?
- P is getting his hind end checked tomorrow when we go to the vet to rescope. In the first video, coming off of jump 2, he looks stuck behind. It could’ve been the footing since it had rained and then the arena had been trampled on all day the previous day when they hosted a hunter show, but I’ve also felt this stickiness a few times at home.
- I’m baffled as to why P is stopping now. His MO used to be to stop at the first fence he was asked to jump (at a show, schooling, or in a lesson…always the first jump), or if one was particularly spooky looking. Neither was the case on Sunday. This was jump 6 so it’s obvious by now what we’re doing here, and the fence itself was a simple gate with a pole on top. Maybe there were flowers, but P has never cared about that before. It’s frustrating because there’s no rhyme or reason for it, at least to me.
- It seems I’m over my fear of heights (fence heights that is. Don’t invite me on a Ferris wheel). I chose to do the little classes for a few reasons:
- They were earlier in the day, before it was supposed to get stupid hot and/or storm.
- This wasn’t about height, it was about me getting more comfortable jumping around a course and making fast decisions. Everything just happens so quickly in stadium. In XC, if you screw something up, you typically have a stretch to fix things. In SJ, you have to be really good about not dwelling on mistakes, which is something I need practice at.
- P’s intermittent soreness and hind-end stickiness in the canter is something I want checked out before making him use himself more to get over a bigger fence. While he looks and feels sound, every once in awhile there’s just this “thing” that happens so better safe than sorry.
While I was closing my check out, they were setting up 2’9″ and I was almost tempted to go grab P and head back in there, but it was important to end on a good note, which we did. If all is well when we go to the vet, then we’ll be heading to Trainer B’s for a lesson on Friday, then to another jumper show (at another location) on Saturday!