After such a wonderful first day, I was feeling pretty good about day two, if slightly exhausted. The day prior to my classes wasn’t quite as long, but I still wasn’t on my horse until almost two, and by then I was just about ready to be done.
Both of my courses were power and speed, which meant I had a much longer course to remember. Fortunately neither course was overly complicated, and mostly looped back and forth across the ring again. A quick course walk with my trainer and then I was up on my horse and ready to roll for my first 3′ class. Val definitely felt a little tired, but still had a springy step and felt pretty happy again to be out and about doing his job. No sourness about being pulled out again which is exactly what I want to see on day two. we jumped a few jumps, and I worked hard to keep my shoulders back to avoid the situation I’d created the night before (is this looking like a theme yet?) and I hit my warm up jumps pretty perfectly.
Val was again phenomenal for this course. He wasn’t quite as lit up as the day before, but was still totally on point and we hit pretty much everything right where I wanted to. Of all of my courses all weekend, I think I was thinking through my ride the most on this course. There were a few long distances I knew were coming, but I remembered to help keep him off of the jumps so we didn’t roll a pole off of the verticals, and we went clean and fast for 3rd out of 16.
Lots of pats, some cookies, a quick sponge and a short walk and Val got tucked in to hang out for the rest of the class and the two after.
I got to see barn buddy with her baby thoroughbred do her move up class which went great, and then I hopped back on for our last class. Wee!
In warm up, I did really well at remembering to wait for the closer spot rather than leaning for a long one and getting a chip, but Val and I were both starting to flag. Even tacking up, I was running on fumes. Not a great way to go into a bigger class. We went in the ring, and I started with a perfect pace and canter. It was nice and forward but not running, and the first two jumps came up really well, even though number two was out of an awkward corner. Val moved up nicely to the oxer and gave me a great effort.
As we were landing though, I had this brief moment where I realized I couldn’t for the life of me remember how many strides there were in the bending line to the double. So instead of just riding like it was a single to a single, I totally abandoned my horse. He fishtailed while I tried to steer without any help from my legs, and then when I saw the long (and crooked) distance, I leaned on my horse’s neck. So of course he put his feet down again and barely climbed over the vertical in.
Being that he has limited experience at this height, especially with the way the tend to spread the oxers at this show, Val bailed, and I don’t blame him one bit. Unfortunately, I was too tired to even know what was happening before it was too late. I blame J’s cousin who had asked just the day before the last time I’d fallen off. Also the fact that I used the brand new pad I’d won the night before. In hindsight, that was just asking for a slice of humble pie. It was just so clean and white!
**shout out to barn buddy’s bf who filmed the whole fall and didn’t drop the camera as soon as things got hairy. Lol.**
I had the presence of mind to hold on long enough to get clear of the jump and sort of slide my way quickly down my horse so that I barely even patted the ground. Poor Val though is horrified when he loses me, because he doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body, and he ran off to trainer and beg forgiveness.
I popped up, dusted myself off, and even put my jump back up, to my applause and cheering from the jump crew. Not the cheering I was hoping for but better than nothing I guess?
I climbed back on my horse and hopped over a couple of oxers in the warm up ring before calling it a day, since there were no other 3’6 classes to enter for the day. Val was the tiniest bit sticky over the first fence, but all he needed was a cluck to hop over. I ended on an oxer where I really asked him to move up out of the corner and take a bit of a long spot, just to make the point that even if it makes it a little harder, he can leave the ground from there, and needs to do so when I ask or things get uglier. He hopped over and I felt as good as was possible about ending on that note.
Over all, I’m pretty disappointed in myself for making that same mistake twice, both times in a bending line to a double. I know better, and while making the mistake once is forgivable, doing that to my horse twice means I just wasn’t thinking, and that’s not ok. There are certainly lots of reasons for why I wasn’t thinking quickly–I was tired, it was a long weekend, moving up is hard, etc. etc.–but my horse expects more of me, and I expect more of myself.
So we’ve got our work cut out for us this winter. I plan to set up several bending lines and wherever possible add a double to the out, though our ring is only so big. There’s going to be a lot of work on rateability with my horse, and that hind end needs to get under control so we don’t fish tail so much on course. His canter also need to improve so that it’s coming from behind more and doesn’t get so short and tight when I try to package him up. Part of this will involve some rehab type stiff this winter.
I need to do some longer courses so that I can get through a long weekend without frying my brain, and I just plain need to get strong after seeing some of the landing photos where I’m landing in a heap/catching him on the back side of the oxers.
I also need to nail down why my right side wants to get so scrunched, and really get my leg underneath me all the time so it’s more effective.
And the biggest thing of all? I need to trust my eye more, and nip that leaning for the long ones habit in the bud. Once in a while is one thing, but this has been an issue for a while, and it’s only going to make things harder and harder as we continue to progress and try to move up. So we’ve got a brief break where things will be easy and low pressure, but then the pressure is on. After cleaning up in the 3′ and 3’3 the past two weekends (which also booth felt and looked small), I know this move up is appropriate, but it’s hard, and it’s my job to set my horse up for success. Come the 2017 show season, I will be ready for the rated adult jumper divisions!
On the plus side, we did ribbon in every class that I finished, and since all of the classes were add back, all I paid for out of pocket after our winnings was the office fee, the stall, and a few of his bags of shavings. That’s the most money I’ve ever won at a show, and that was a definite win. I still consider this to have been a successful move up show after all, since my horse was brave and never once spooked or felt worried about the height other than a general feeling that he noticed they were bigger. Despite my mistakes, he bailed me out more than once, and I just used up my quota of mistakes this weekend.