I have both a ton to say about this show, and nothing at all. Luckily (or not so luckily) for you, I’ll write out the ton I have to say in two parts. For those of you who want the cliff notes, I have both a pessimistic and an optimistic version.
Pessimistic: I spent a decent amount of money to go to my year end show, and kinda sucked.
Optimistic: I had one of those ‘learning experience’ horse shows that we all have in our journey. There were good moments, and not so good.
Those are the takeaways though. Let’s back up to the actual show.
On Friday, Simon was quite wild for him schooling. He’s actually been acting very spooky in general these past few weeks, and I had this voice in the back of my head saying ‘time for an ulcer treatment’ before the show started. At the show, I felt even more like that could be the case. He wouldn’t settle on the flat at all. Compared to the mature & fun to ride horse I had at the Lope show, at year end I had some of the worst traits of Thoroughbred. Spooky, looky, anxious, hot, refusing to flat walk. Not fun.
We hacked around a lot, and once my trainer came in to school us over jumps he settled right down. We actually schooled really, really well on Friday. All the jumps were the “hunter” jumps, but they had lots of fill and all the way up to 2’9″ I felt pretty confident. Even though we had a rocky start schooling, we ended great.
Saturday came, and I decided to scratch the 2’6″ hunter classes I signed up for in that ring. Truth be told, I was very nervous all day… even though schooling went well. I thought, “Okay. I’ll just concentrate on the jumpers and not worry about the hunters. That way I won’t beat myself up for a missed lead change or adding, and I’ll have more fun overall.”
So we waited. I watched the hunters, took my horse for a walk, and photographed some friends. Even on our walk, he was a bit wild eyed.
Then they started setting up the jumpers, and we walked the course. At that time, my nervousness grew from cautiously reserved to seriously worried. When we walked the course, several of the jumps were still set to 3′ (I didn’t know it at first) and I couldn’t shake how absolutely giant they all looked. Big coops, rolltops, walls and flowers. So. Many. Oxers. Wide oxers. Combinations and oxers everywhere. I wanted to quit before I even got on.
But I had come to this show to show the jumpers, and that’s what I should do right?
In the warmup, Simon was fine. More anxious and nervous than usual, but he didn’t do anything naughty or bad. I was holding him too much from nerves, which my trainer got after me for. We did some more warmup jumps with me being much softer, and he calmed down. I wasn’t upset at him for being antsy, because I knew my nerves were not helping him at all and he was just channeling what I was feeling.
The first course was optimum time, and besides the two frightening combinations (I hate combinations) it was pretty inviting. Still, I can’t describe to you how scared I was waiting to go. I couldn’t talk to anyone. My breathing felt weird. I have never been so terrified going into a class in my entire life. If I am ever that scared at a horse event ever again, I’m getting off. Period.
However, I stayed on and went in. The course was a little wild & wiggly. He tried to swerve right in both combinations, but I rode him through it.
In the two stride, we did a very bit S curve and added the three but it was okay.
In the one stride, I said “NO!” and got him back left and we did the one with no problem. I was (still am) very proud of myself for riding through that first one stride.
Yes, my leg was swinging and I was loose all over, but it wasn’t terrible. In fact, it was kinda okay! We had one rail, but were still close to the optimum time so we managed to get a 5th out of 12.
I was mostly pretty happy. I think I actually left the ring saying, “Yay! I didn’t fall off!” and everyone laughed.
Note to self: Never say this again until the horse show is finished.
Edited – Forgot to share video!
You would think after doing pretty okay in my first 2’9″ jumper round that I would be more relaxed, but all the waiting around before the 2nd made me more nervous again. I was still terrified. The fear hadn’t gone away, and it was about to get worse.
My second course was a timed jump off round.
Going into it, I thought as I cantered to the first jump that, “I’ll just be cautious and clean like Beezie!”
Note to self again: Never compare yourself to Beezie. You are not worthy. Bad things will happen.
First jump we had a rail. Second jump was a left turn past the in-gate straight to a big brown oxer. I cut the turn too close to the oxer, and only had about a stride and a half square to it on my approach.
We chipped. Bad. My amazing horse did his best, but the entire jump came down.
Me and Simon were both completely frazzled, and I stopped. I petted his neck, and then did a tight right turn to pick up my canter to get to fence 3, a solid coop vertical.
Note to self again again: Never say in the course walk, “That fence doesn’t worry me” because said fence and I will become closely acquainted soon.
Freshly scared from crashing all the poles, Simon and I CRAWLED to the coop. So slow. We canted up to it and added added added… I gave no leg and just learned forward and my horse said, “Nope. Can’t.”
And I slid off.
It was the softest fall ever, and somehow I managed not to touch the jump I was oh so close too. I wasn’t hurt, but extremely embarrassed and extremely upset at myself. I held onto him the whole time, so when I got up he was right there next to me. For some reason, I remembered being told that you should run your stirrups up before leaving the ring. So I did.
THAT TOOK SO LONG. EVERYONE WAS STARING. WHY DID I DO THAT? I JUST WANTED TO GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE. (Sidenote: Can someone verify if you should really do this or not because if I ever fall off in the ring again I’m just going to run away as fast as possible)
After I fell, I talked to my trainer and tried not to cry. She basically said I should have forgotten the crashed oxer and pushed him way forward to the next jump. We decided to school a few jumps in the warmup area. He felt a little hesitant, but I asked him to go and he was fine.
I untacked him, took a walk and cried. I wasn’t upset that I fell, because that’s part of horse showing and it happens to all of us eventually. I wasn’t that upset that I fell in front of a ton of people after being featured on COTH a few weeks ago (although the ego is bruised, I admit). I was upset that I upset my horse so much. That I know how to ride mostly at home, but nerves got the best of me in a huge way and I really let him down. Not only did I let him down, but I left him with a lot of my worry too.
We got back on after the show and schooled again in the ring, because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to walk in Sunday morning and get around after that disaster. My trainer set the jumps back down to the 2’3″ – 2’6″ height, and we zipped around with no problem. Simon felt a little unsure, and a little weird but he went when I asked and we schooled fairly well.
The rest of the night I laid up in bed and worried myself sick – literally, I came home from the show Sunday with a fever and am now taking all of the cold medication possible. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I sucked in both hunters and jumpers, and at some point you have to admit that it’s you – not your horse – with the problems. I was worried what would happen Sunday, but that’s a tale for another day.