Since I’m suffering from major horse-show-hangover still, my normal one-giant-huge-recap post is going to have to be broken into a few pieces.
I’ll start at the end though. At the end of this show I am so, so proud of my horse. No, we didn’t come home with arms full of ribbons, and we didn’t even go as well as we normally do. But he proved to me how much he is willing to take care of me, and try for me, and that’s something you just don’t find in a lot of horses.
OK, back to the beginning.
My schooling Thursday over the 3’3″ fences ended up being pretty craptastic. There was a ton of traffic around the jumping arena, and pairing that with the fact that I was there by myself, staring at these huge airy 3’3″ oxers meant that I started over-riding things, and we have a couple really ugly jumps. So of course in my efforts to end on a good note (we did), I spent a lot longer riding than the 25 minute ride intended. A lot longer.
No I don’t ride this hunched- rolling my shoulders to get loosened up!
Then Friday we get to the show, and I realize that hunters have a very special place in their hearts for fillers. Fillers, and in particular, astro-turf. Astro-turf boxes, astro-turf poles, and of course your run-of-the-mill roll tops were everywhere. These fences looked giant too! So, I hopped on the less than plucky pony (since he’d jumped two days in a row so far), and jumped again. Another super special ugly fence that I thought might give me a black eye, another couple to end on a good note, and we called it a night.
Foster in his hunter get up (i.e, cross country saddle with no pad) and me in the full hunter outfit- FS jods and all!
So, the Foster I got on Saturday was already super tired from my cocked-up jumping efforts the 3 days previous. This was absolutely not the way I had planned things, but there it is. So I decided to bring everything down a notch. Instead of Adult Amateurs 2’9″, we did Special Hunters 2’6″. Instead of a 3′ and 3’3″ jumper class, we did 2’9″ and 3′. I still wanted to make this a positive experience, and that seemed in the best interest of everyone.
Donning our ‘hunter’ bridle and new show shirt!
Special Hunter 2’6″ was interesting. Considering how tired we were, and that jumper classes were ahead, I was glad to see the expected outside line to diagonal pattern of a hunter course. Since we were still mastering leads over fences, I just did simple changes. Here’s how that went:
Somehow we earned ourselves a 4th place ribbon for that class, even though he jumped over his shoulder almost the entire course.
Then tired pony had to to his first jumper class. We waited around for ages, continuing to expect them to be done and moving on any minute (since when does it take 45 minutes to do 3 rounds in a jumper class? what the what?). Foster proceeded to get even more tired. It was a proper jumper course though, full of roll backs and a few related distances. We went in a little low on gas, and again, Foster jumped over his shoulder and even started bringing down poles (unusual). You’ll see in the video a few simple changes, as well as a few times when I say ‘eff it’, and stay on the wrong lead in order to keep his momentum up.
The last class of the day was our 3′ jumper class. I knew we were running on fumes, and I decided that if he started crashing fences, we would pull up. With all the waiting and not knowing how things worked, I’d been in the saddle for over 4 hours, and we were pretty ready to be done. But I did realize that he would need some more speed (especially since he did the last course at a snail’s pace). No bothering here for simple changes that would slow us down, we were just going to see how it went:
Ha. While we were moving more forward, that’s about all I can say for this video. It took everything I had with my legs to get him going, and he tried so hard to do what I was asking. I still can’t stop laughing at our almost-disastrous attempt over fence 5. Instead of jumping over and across the oxer, my poor boy jumped straight up and landed immediately on the backside of the fence, sending me sky rocketing out of the saddle as a result. Somehow though, we were able to recover and scrape through the rest of the course.
And so ended Day 1 of our hunter/jumper initiation. Foster, while absolutely exhausted by this time, saved my butt all day long. While it was some pretty shitty riding on my part, he piloted me around and did his job with a pretty good attitude. Proud does not even begin to describe how I feel for my horse.
Up next, wishy-washyness and more hunter goodness.