I’m writing this post on Sunday evening with Pascale passed out on the couch next to me. We are both very tired from a long weekend of horse showing. This weekend was one of those “learning experiences” shows for me, and while I did not take home any satin to hang in the new apartment I did really enjoy myself. I think I posted something on Instagram to this effect, but I’ve never had so much fun losing before. Simon was as good as gold, and for a few days I was (mostly) able to keep the sadness away.
But I bet you’re more interested in how it went and less interested about my current level of sadness – so let’s get to the show report!
Summer Circuit shows are unique to our CTHJA local series in that they also run on Friday in addition to Saturday and Sunday. This would be the longest horse show Simon or I have ever attended. Additionally, they offer a lot more jumper divisions than usual. While I temporarily thought about adding a 3′ jumper division, I decided it would be best to stick to my 2’6″-2’9″ jumper division and keep stress as low as possible. Now realizing that I rode more at the horse show in the past four days than I did in the entire month of July, I think that was a wise decision.
Doing just one division meant that I had one jumper class each day. Easy peasy! How could I mess this up?
Oh, in lots of different ways.
Friday afternoon I was very pleased to be done with a super busy work week, and grateful for my half day. Simon was a bit of a wild child warming up. There was dolphin leaping, “expressive” canter departs and overall lots of nervous energy from him. He was dragging me to every fence in the warmup ring, but not in a good way. I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t sure what kind of horse I would have once I got in the ring either.
The class was optimum time, and I watched the rider before me go. She appeared to be moving really slowly with less pace than what Simon and I have been doing in our lessons. When they announced her time, it was close to perfect. Knowing how fresh my horse was, I walked into the ring thinking “Slow!” and made a plan to go deep into all of my corners.
Well, I went deep into all of my corners… and whoaed. They never announced my time, but when I looked at the video even guessing where the timers were had me way, way too slow.
Still, I was happy with my ponykins. Once we got in the show ring, he relaxed and did exactly what I ask. There is some expressive head tossing when I asked him to whoa, but that’s probably because Simon has a better internal clock than me and he was trying to say, “Mom! We’re going to looooooooooose!” We did lose, but I was really happy with my horse and determined not to beat myself up over poor riding choices this weekend. I decided that getting to the show was the achievement, and I was not going to let mistakes keep me from having a fun time.
Saturday’s jumper class was power & speed. Knowing how slow I went on Friday, I was determined not to make the same mistake again. This time we were going to go for it! No holding back! Guns blazing! Thoroughbred race horse style!
You might be able to see where this is going.
Simon warmed up great, and I waited for the class feeling pretty nervous. The fences were set a lot more impressively than the day before, and while I wasn’t scared of the height… they did look large. Also, I wanted to win! There were some tricky options in the speed phase, but Simon turns so well that I knew we had a shot if I rode correctly.
I did not ride correctly.
The power phase of the course was okay, but not fabulous. The pace wasn’t quite enough and we chipped/added several times. Still, it wasn’t bad at all – speed phase is where things got hairy.
Turns out that when you ask your horse to go faster and turn tightly you should not lean forward with your body. Are you shocked? I know I was. Simon was so game and tried his heart out for me. He did everything I asked, but as the course went on I got more and more discombobulated. I leaned, lost my balance in the saddle and had my reins all over the place. When it came to the left rollback that I decided to go inside for, he turned so sharply that we actually overshot the turn. It could have been saved if I was sitting up, but instead I kept leaning more and more until we were at the jump and I was all the way on his neck basically.
I was thinking “Lord please don’t let me fall off,” as I stared at the jump.
Simon was thinking, “I’m pretty sure my Mom is going to fall off if I jump this, so I’m just… not.”
So we had a stop. Whomp whomp. 100% my fault and I turned him away and he jumped it three strides out no problem to finish the rest of the course. Even though my ride was less than stellar, I got some great pictures and couldn’t have been prouder of my horse. He did everything I asked with gusto, but I just asked a lot of things incorrectly. I left the ring again with another “learning experience” under my belt.
Also, after I almost ate it into the rollback jump, I turned to the audience while I circled him and said something like “So close!” They looked at me with sheer horror. Not a smile or a “Way to hang on!” I think I scared everyone watching by that particular jump.
Even with the big goof, I did my best to laugh it off without being too disappointed. It was fun to be back in the show ring again, and there’s nothing like a horse show to let you know all of your short comings! Tomorrow I’ll conclude with my last jumper class, and as an added bonus… we return to the hunter ring for an equitation medal!