Remember all those things I was so worried about in my last post? I shouldn’t have worried about any of those things. My horse was a star this past weekend. We had some bobbles, and we weren’t our most competitive selves, but I’m really happy with the entire weekend as our first show back in the ring. Also, shout out to Niamh: that Starbucks gift card really came in handy this weekend!
Friday I took my horse for a brief lunge in case he was feeling silly, but after 10 minutes to work out any stiffness from the trailer ride and any goofiness, it was clear that Val was feeling really reasonable. So I tacked up and hopped on. We had a nice long warm up with lots of bending and leg yields, and though he was a goof over the first few jumps, we leveled out and ended feeling brave and well behaved.
Saturday I was only signed up for a 2’9 class as a warm up, a 3’3 class, and tentatively a 3’6 class, depending on how Val and I felt. Since he lives out 24/7, I made sure to give him a solid 15-20 to just move around on the line and do whatever he felt like.
Our warm up went about how I expected. (Also I forgot my gloves. Oops. I’m going to blame the half mini-bottle of Prosecco that was
forced on me put in my empty coffee cup by Lauren.)
That is, he walked in nervous, and was a little all over the place, but not terrible. we had one stop at fence two because he was staring at the timer on the wall and never even got straight to the fence. I gave him a tap with my crop, then told him he was OK and made him leg yield toward the jump before circling back to it. Though we had a few other hairy jumps, nothing was super unreasonable, and we went clean other than our one stop. I also rode the whole course with reins that were 2-3 inches too long which didn’t help anything, but we worked it out.
By the end of the course, poor Val needed some time to get his hamsters back on their wheels, and after a walk to cool off and relax, he went back in his stall to munch on hay and nap.
When I pulled him back out for our 3’3 class several hours later, he was dozing in the corner of his stall. He was super sweet while I tacked up, and then I hopped on (with gloves this time!) for a short warm up. After popping over a vertical that was set at 3’3 we went right into the ring.
We got to do the same course again, which was pretty nice. We picked up a nice canter and rode down to the first jump, feeling pretty good. For whatever reason it looked bigger to me than what we warmed up over, and Val just barely touched it and pulled it down. Bummer. I didn’t even hear him touch it, and only heard the rail thump to the ground.
Since we weren’t really trying to win, I wasn’t concerned, and focused on my ride to fence two, since that’s where we had issues before.
I really pushed with my inside leg to my outside hand and insisted that we get to the middle, and it wasn’t pretty, but we went up and over and kept cantering to the next fence.
After we had our conversation at fence two, everything was really good. Each time I cantered by the gate my trainer yelled at me to sit up (What? That works? Who knew?) and we hit almost everything out of stride. He was brave and again had no rails other than the first. In fact, after that one rail, he jumped extra hard over everything else.
By the time we finished, I could tell I was running out of horse, and even though we were completely capable of doing the 3’6 class, Val might have felt over faced simply because he was tired and he jumps so much harder than he has to some times. Since the point of this show was to have a really positive experience, I opted to scratch.
With that decision made and a really nice trip in the bag that earned us 5th out of 11, we headed back for a rinse and snuggles, and lots of cookies. Once Val was put away, I popped open a cider to clean up my stuff, prepare for Sunday, and wrap Val’s legs for the night.