Overall? We did the hunter derby! I had a lot of fun doing it and checking that (hopefully first of many) item off the bucket list. That being said, it was not without any shenanigans.
I headed to the show grounds at a reasonable time to meet my trainer and the horses. Since this was a one day show, we didn’t have stalls… which usually isn’t a problem. Historically Simon has been great tied to the trailer. Historically.
On my way I got the following text message:
Once I arrived at the show, my trainer warned me he had been acting pretty weird about tying in general. She went off to school some of our other riders, and I attempted to lunge in knee high grass. Though Simon is really never a crazy guy on the lunge line, he was especially dead Saturday morning. Grass > Trotting. I had to chase him with the whip to get him to trot, and getting any decent amount of canter out was just not happening.
After lunging, we headed to the ring with the hunter derby set up. They allowed hand walking for an hour, which was a great opportunity to walk the lines, let Simon see the jumps and be terrified of the height and width of every oxer. And there were so many oxers.
I had been warned of these oxers, and we’d been working on more at home… but nothing compared to seeing them up close. A barnmate tried to make me feel better saying she was sure some of them were set to 3’… yeah no, just gigantic 2’6″ – 2’9″.
Simon though could give 0 f’s about the jumps or the ring. He strolled around like a gentleman and nibbled about 50% of the jumps.
Thoroughly petrified of about 50% of the jumps in my ring, I took Simon back to the trailer. I tied him up, and started to head to the office to register. There was a registration cut-off in about twenty minutes, and if I didn’t confirm my derby entry by then than I wasn’t going to be allowed to enter.
He wasn’t even tied for five minutes before he started pulling back, and that’s when I lost any ounce of horse sense. See, I always tie horses with a quick release knot. Always. Simon was tied with a quick release knot when he started pulling back, but I didn’t quick release it. What did I do instead?
I grabbed his halter with my right hand and said “Whoa”. Like an idiot.
Simon did not whoa.
Simon sat on his ass and waited for his halter to break… with my hand stuck inbetween his nose and the leather strap. By the time I remembered I had a quick release knot and went for it, the halter snapped and my hand wrenched free and I dropped many, many f bombs. I apologize to any short stirrup kids in the near vicinity. We caught him quickly without any drama, but my hand was not looking good.
One of my barnmates offered to register for me so I could sit at the trailer and babysit my horse who can no longer be tied. When everyone left, I had a little meltdown and did what any rational adult would do – cried and texted my husband a SOS please come immediately.
After some tears, I was able to calm down. I could bend my finger, but it was a bit numb and super swollen. We went to the EMT (might as well earn my $35 fee) and got an ice pack. They told me it was either sprained, deeply bruised or a hairline fracture and to take it easy. By take it easy, I assume they meant ride? Because that’s what I did.
Honestly once I realized that my hand wasn’t seriously f’ed up, my biggest disappointment was that I couldn’t braid. I had planned to braid in my downtime before the derby, but with a sausage finger that hurt when I bent it… that wasn’t really possible 🙁 Sad panda.
Before the actual derby, we were allowed a ticketed warmup. The warmup had a limited course where we could jump some of the derby jumps as well as let our horse see the ring.
Trotting in he immediately gave a hard look at the trot log, and I sighed. My finger was fine so long as I didn’t need to close it on the reins and didn’t bump it. If I bumped it left or right, there was a huge searing pain. Luckily for me, I had giant jumps to distract me from the pain.
The overall consensus of my warmup round was that I rode really well to the jumps that intimidated me (ie giant oxers). Since I kept a lot of leg on, Simon was okay with a longer spot and I felt really with him. Our big snafu was the outside line. The combination was set for a two stride to a five stride bending, and I didn’t have enough coming into the two. We chipped the two, and then chipped out of the five. Not great for sure, but it was just warmup so I told myself not to worry about it.
I was just pretty happy that we jumped everything. Of the two option fences, we chose both low options in the warm-up. The oxer high options looked huge and even though I wasn’t worried about the high options on the singles, we decided it would be better to start nice and easy for Simon.
Ticketed warmup out of the way, I started to feel a lot better than the derby. The finger incident really rattled my confidence, but I did the very best I could to push aside expectations. There were 26(?) in the 2’6″ derby section. I was slated to go towards the end so I had plenty of time to watch some rounds and unwind. Looking around, it was pretty obvious that we were the newbs here. I was competing against pros who rode jumpers, horses who showed in the 3’6″ at A shows fairly recently, and lots of really nice packer types who had more miles at 3′ than 2’6″. For us I just wanted to get through in one piece and have a good time doing it.
For those details you’ll have to wait until tomorrow though!