Sunday was the second and final day of the horse show… also, the best day! I woke up with an agenda that terrified me – show a 2’6″ division for the first time in my life. I know for a lot of seasoned horse showers, this isn’t a big deal. People at my barn tell me that it’s not a big deal. My horse still practically canters over the 2’6″… but for me, it’s a really big deal. It’s the division I always thought was attainable for me, but never could make it happen. So I was a ball of nerves Sunday morning both because the large oxers kind of terrified me and I was attempting (and this is cheesy) to fulfill a showing dream.
I signed up for the 2’6″ Modified Equitation and Hunter II course. I warmed on the flat by myself while my trainer finished with the jumpers, and waited for her to pop over some warm-up fences. It was the end of the division so the warm-up ring wasn’t very crowded – therefore I could tell her (and anyone else who would listen to me ride) that I was terrified.
And it’s true, I was.
I knew Simon could do it, but I worried about making a total fuck up of the entire thing because I was so worried. After cantering a smallish vertical she asked me to jump the 2’6″ (aka gigantic) oxer in the warm-up ring… which I might of made a face about. She said that my horse was a 12 foot long animal (he is not so small) and that he could stand over the entire oxer with all four feet on the ground. Hmm, she has a point about that doesn’t she? I cantered it a few times, took a deep breath and went in.
I’d like to tell you that it was beautiful, but it wasn’t. In both rounds I was nervous and I made some nasty spots and some good spots. What I did a good job of though, was keeping a forward momentum. If I want to jump bigger fences, I can’t ask my horse to crawl can I? We were good at that. I was also doing a lot better at breaking at the hip. My trainer’s advice before I went in was to press down over ever fence, and gallop away. I tried to do that, and for the most part it was okay.
Our eq course was just “nervous” and I imagined looked like it. Our hunter course started off kind of awful. Simon took off long once (the right choice) and I wasn’t prepared for it, so I got left behind a bit. A few fences later I saw the long, leaned for it, and he was like “teehee I’m gonna chip!” and chipped… so I got jumped out of the tack baaaaaaaad. It’ll be a good “fail friday” picture for Instagram 😉 After that, I got my shit together and tried riding and the rest of the course looked okay.
Overall my 2’6″ adventure went fine! I didn’t die, the jumps weren’t gigantic, and I had fun! I think my horse had more fun too. He had a spring in his step that tells me he’s going to like doing the strides and bigger fences next year.
After the 2’6″ triumph, I went back to the barn to wait for our last two classes of the day – 2’0″ Beginner Hunter II and 2’0″ Beginner Eq. They were the same courses in the same ring with teeny jumps in comparison, so I wasn’t worried about it. In fact, I was actually walking into the ring feeling pretty good about myself! I set a goal of relaxing my contact to the fence, letting Simon have his “bright” pace, and doing much better on my leads.
The first course was eq, and I felt really good about it. There were two fences I was a tad close on, but nothing ugly and we either landed or got skip changes on every lead. Hunter II was also nice, and had similar results. It was one of the few times during my showing this year that I felt I earned the “woops” that came from my cheering section after the rounds. In fact, everyone from my barn did great and we all returned to the barn feeling good about ourselves and confident some ribbons would be happening.
And they did! Out of another big class (I didn’t check, but I’m assuming 20+ because they double pinned) I picked up a 6th place and my barn mates got a 5th and a 2nd. Truthfully, I was hoping for a little higher but I have to remember that Beginners is kind of a strange division. You have a mix of adorable ponies, seasoned show hunters, and wimpy adults like me! For a horse doing the ads with no clean changes, 6th is just fine!
To sum up a very long series of show posts, I’m so pleased with this year. I feel like Simon is my little diamond in the rough, and that as long as I keep working hard we can improve. Last year at the same show I was scared over every 2’0″ course, had nothing but simple changes, and botched up my distances BAD at least once on every course. This year, we moved up 2 divisions and pulled some ribbons in tough competition. Most importantly, we had fun and my horse enjoyed his job as much as I can tell! That’s probably better than a blue ribbon at the end of the day 😉