Finally, we reach our conclusion.
Thanks to the top rider getting time faults on XC, I was sitting in first after cross country. But we all know that SJ is my/Jack’s weakest phase, and you know, that old adage about the only place to go from the top is down.
The showjumping arena at the Virginia Horse Center had lots to look at, including covered bleachers along the far side (where the text Virginia International… is), a beautiful tall carved bear where the bush is on the map, and random fences placed in the ring that we didn’t jump. And, as you can see, they were fairly crammed into the space available. Because of this, I honestly wasn’t sure how Jack would handle it- would he ping pong visually off of all the fences, or would he be ok?
I had asked my normal trainer if there was someone she could recommend to warm me up, and she nominated Bobby Meyerhoff, who very kindly held my hand through the warm up and got me in a better rhythm before heading into the ring. Of course his main comments were a twin to what I typically hear from Holly- that is, package the canter, don’t let it get flat and big. And he had me do both verticals and oxers until we were smooth enough to tackle the last phase.
Jack felt pretty tired in general that morning, which I don’t blame him for one bit, and maybe that helped him settle more than usual in the showjumping. Other than the tap you see to fence 3, I didn’t feel like he needed a ton of extra encouragement to get around despite the brightly colored sticks everywhere. Fence 4 ended up being a self fulfilling prophecy, since I was worried about it- long approaches to a vertical are definitely my bogey fence, and this one got away from me as I did exactly what Bobby/Holly told me not to do- I let the canter get big and then got in to a weak, deep distance and boom, thar she blows.
In complete honesty though, I don’t give a damn about that rail (though I’ll be requesting to work on those lines in lessons). Jack was so phenomenal and attentive and rateable, and I felt like we both had a complete 180 from the round from hell that was the War Horse show.
I’ll save my continued gushing for another post, but walking away from the ring knowing we had officially qualified for the AECs was quite simply the most amazing feeling.