Saturday night I drank one glass of wine, had bread and cheese and about 5 bites of sorbet before I passed out at 10:30pm. A good night’s sleep helps a lot, and I drove to the show early Sunday morning determined to have a better attitude.
Of course, that better attitude didn’t include being nervous for my first ever medal class.
The 2’6″ Medal runs first thing with no warm-up. I could have gotten up super early to school the fences before the show started (a lot of people chose to do this), but my trainer didn’t think it was necessary and since she held my hand the entire weekend I pretty much try to do what she says. We had to switch warm-up rings from the day before, and Simon was really really nervous in the new place. Add giant puddles on each side of the fence from an over zealous water truck, plus a really nervous Lauren and we headed to the show ring both on edge.
When Simon’s on edge, he chews his tongue, chomps the bit, stomps, won’t stand still, etc. When I’m on edge, I get aggravated at Simon. Waiting by the in-gate he started pawing, and I lost my temper and popped him on the shoulder. Not hard mind you, but it wasn’t fair to him either. My trainer quickly jumped on me and said that was no way to calm my horse down.
I sheepishly said she was right, and ignored him instead. Of course she had him settled down in a few minutes with this magic bit trick she does. He loves it. He melts into a puddle when she calms him down that way, so I ignored him and took some deep breaths to calm myself. Going into the ring for the medal, my goal was to not loose my temper and ride better than the day before.
I started off with the wrong lead. Deep breath, fix it, don’t panic.
Then I had a close one to the first fence. Still not the end of the world.
Then I chipped an add in the only line of the course. Okay, at least there are no more lines right?
Then I turned it around and rocked a tight rollback to a touch bending line. Okay, so it wasn’t a perfect medal but I started bad and ended better. I also got to breathe a big sigh of relief and relax because the rest of the day I felt no pressure. As my trainer and I agreed, we like calm Lauren better than nervous Lauren.
After a break, we warmed up again for the remainder of my classes. One 2’3″ schooling hunter, and three 2’6″ classes. Simon warmed up completely relax, my show nerves were totally gone and I felt like a rock star carrying a nice pace through the warmup and getting some really solid jumps from him. Also, please note that while waiting I told my trainer and a barnmate nearby that the jumps looked tiny. Tiny! Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiny! Who am I? Where has Lauren gone?
Our first course, 2’3″ Schooling, was probably the best of the day. I came in a little strong on the five stride coming home by the judge, but the diagonal line was quite pretty. The big flaw was not getting our lead change in the hind, so we cross-cantered the last fence. Still I was pretty pleased with my Simon pony and myself.
Green 2’6″ hunter wasn’t nearly as nice. Simon was getting a little more nervous and building in speed, and this course started our Sunday series of lead change issues. We got the outside five very easily, but cross cantered to the diagonal and three legged jumped in and then chipped out. Not pretty.
In the 2’6″ modified equitation he was really started to get anxious, and I have a hard time riding him at this pace/height when he’s not relaxed. When he’s nervous he looks to root his head down, and my tendency is to try to pick him up with my hands instead of just using my core/seat to pick him up. We had more trailing lead changes, not enough in the diagonal, and I got frustrated and see-sawed him a bit too much a bit too close to once fence. It wasn’t a disaster, but it definitely wasn’t a great course.
For our last 2’6″ hunter course, my trainer told me to do my best to ignore his anxiousness and that it didn’t look as bad as it felt. I aimed to do better with sitting up, and less with my hands. By that time Simon had decided he didn’t really need to do lead changes anymore, and cross-cantered and swapped the entire course. I did much better not fighting with him, but by the end I was really frustrated with the whole lead changes thing. When he landed wrong before our final courtesy circle, I sat up and pony kicked my outside leg while looking the direction that my trainer told me to for the lead (so my body would stay up and not look down) and low and behold… beautiful lead change. If you watch nothing else of this video (we lose the diagonal line but it wasn’t pretty so you didn’t miss much) fast forward to 1:10 to see my best lead change ever.
That concluded my Sunday, and though there were no ribbons or loud woots of amazement… it really did go a lot better than Saturday. The goals that I wrote for the show were:
Not be so nervous– With the exception of the 2’6″ medal, my nerves were very much under control! Get at least one course where we get the strides every time– This happened twice if you include the galloping course
- Complete an equitation class without majorly eating it on a distance — Not so much!
Remember to count!– In counting we trust
Overall, it really was a great learning experience and we certainly could have done a lot worse with this new division and way of go. Yes, I was disappointed that I have no satin pictures to share with y’all… but when I mentioned to my trainer that I was a tad frustrated her reply was basically that we could maybe be frustrated if this was our 10th show doing this, but it was the first!
And you know, she’s right. I know all the elements are there… I just have to put them together. It is going to take more than another few lessons or another few shows, but I think it’ll happen. If it doesn’t? That jumper ring is looking mighty tempting…
If nothing else, I will have shadbelly pictures to share with you soon because it’s hunter derby time this weekend folks!