We were scheduled to show jump at 6:15 PM Saturday evening, but the heavens opened up around 3:30 and this massive storm hung over us for what seemed like forever, pushing everything back by 1.5 hours. It was a mess- stalls had lakes in them and the arena footing was just slop. Something I’ve never ridden Leo in until that point.
Trainer B and I were able to walk about half the course before they started sending riders in, so I stayed to watch a few rounds to know where I was going. And then I had to walk away. I watched about 7 rounds, and in all 7 rounds horses and riders were slipping, pulling rails, and just generally not having a good go of things.
Like, one pair came into the arena as the previous pair was finishing up and the horse ENTERED REARING. Lucky for the horse and rider who were ending their course, that horse didn’t seem to notice. Then the rearing horse jumped jump one and, oh ya know, RAN AWAY with the rider. Legit ran away and they galloped three laps of the entire arena before she managed to pull him up. Then she just left the arena. I felt so bad.
Since the schedule was so messed up, they were just putting riders in order as they came to warmup, so I threw Leo’s tack on to get in line. And wondered if he was perhaps a bit tired, because this is what he was doing the entire time…
But I quickly found out when we stepped foot in the SJ warmup arena that that whole “stall-licking-because-I’m-so-calm-and-bored-with-this-whole-thing was a LIE.
If there is any footage of the first half of my “warmup,” I’ll pay through the nose for it. I didn’t even recognize the horse under me…as he was flinging himself (and me) around like a lunatic. Yes, I had THAT horse. I wished I could trade for the horse that *just* reared and galloped. At one point, when he took a nanosecond of a break from ping-ponging around, a trainer on the rail said with incredible sympathy, “I’ve been where you are. You’re doing great.” The look of pity in her eyes was touching, but I had no time to dwell on it because Leo had caught his breath and off we went for round 6? 7?
And there’s Trainer B in the middle of the arena going, “Ok, now canter!”
But he was right. And Trainer B had already warned me about “Warmup Leo,” but after dressage warmup, I thought he’d been exaggerating and Leo clearly loved me too much to put me in harms way. So…lesson learned. Once I stopped just trying to survive and started making him do things my way, he was like, “FINE,” and we got down to work. Plus, by then the warmup area had calmed down quite a bit (not sure if everyone else had just went to do their rounds or if they left to avoid Leo and I), and Leo got a bit more chill.
But then I found I had a different problem, in that I couldn’t keep a grip on my reins. My Lund ones had finally gone to their death and since they are apparently no longer in business, I went with a type that looked similar…BUT IS NOT. I had gloves on and it was honestly like I had greased my reins.
So here I am, already in my head because I can’t grip my reins, I’m riding a rabid antelope, the footing is a mess, I’ve seen multiple horses slip and slide, and oh yeah, have I ever SJ isn’t really my thang?
Needless to say, Leo is a saint (yes, I’m aware that I just called him a rabid antelope like one sentence ago) because I had NO steering and he still jumped everything. I spent at least 5 strides after every fence trying to get my reins back, and pointed him at fences all wrong. I had explicit instructions to never move him up to a fence- to either sit or whoa a little so he learns to back off fences- and to fences 4 and 5, all I could see was the long one. So while, umm, ewww, at least I didn’t let my (incorrect) instincts take over. But the 2 rails were 100% my fault. I was most disappointed in how I rode the 2 stride. One and two strides are so hard for me, but in the SJ lesson we had the day before leaving for Chatt, I absolutely NAILED the 2 stride. Womp womp.
So the two rails knocked us down to 9th and I spent the hours between 2:00 AM and 4:30 AM watching the above video in slow motion and beating myself up because I definitely, totally ruined my horse forever and it’d be better for him if I didn’t take him XC the next day. And maybe I should sell him to someone more deserving. Ya know. All rational things that one thinks in the middle of the night.
But at the same time, I was the teensiest bit proud of myself. Show jumping has always been my worst phase and I still went in and did the thing, despite being more than a little suspicious of my horse’s mental state.