Today’s caveat is that this entire blog is really just about riding, horses, and more riding. If you’re not into any of those things, this may not be the day for you. It’s also really long, and with only one picture. SO. LAME.
I’d love to start this blog with a bright and shiny view of the world, how wonderful it all went, how I walked out of the ring with two blue ribbons amongst streamers and confetti like I had won the Super Bowl. That is how I picture winning a blue ribbon would go down. Alas, this blog will not be about confetti but about how my very average riding combined with a pooped horse resulted in some very pedestrian rounds.
I woke up on Sunday morning feeling like what can only be described as crap. The bronchitis was still hanging on, unwilling to bend to the will of the antibiotics. I was exhausted from all of the excitement of the week, and I wasn’t sleeping all that well due to my nerves. As you can imagine this was not setting me up for the best show day ever. On the bright side I was just too down to even feel nervous. I say bright side, but in reality if I’m really that puny where I can’t even be nervous, it’s not a good sign.
Nonetheless like a good rider, I soldiered on to the horse show (wow, I’m really making this sound like I’m being tortured here. As a reality check I was still in Wellington, still showing in at the biggest show of the year, and still surrounded by some of the most amazing group of horseflesh I can imagine).
To further my apathy (pity party started again), the show day began with a flat class, followed by my final two over fences. Problemo numero uno. This shouldn’t sound like the end of the world, but it kind of does to me. DC is actually a pretty nice mover. We’ve won our fair share of flat classes against good company and tend to at least be in the ribbons. I know this is WEF, and the ‘good company’ has become ‘great company,’ but I still feel like we had a chance to be in the pastels. A probability that was greatly diminished by having to start first with the flat.
Our plan for the show day changed from day 1, and DC started with a little lunge followed by me heading to the ring for the 8am class start time. Since we were starting with the hack, hacking in the ring prior to showing was not as important (bonus). I arrived at the ring 15 minutes early, and proceeded to hack around in the warm up ring to a lovely, quiet, relaxed horse. When we were called to the arena for our flat, DC walked into the ring and showed every ounce of his greenness. He was a bit nervous, a bit up, and a total fussypants with his mouth and head. My lovely, quiet, relaxed horse had disintegrated into one that was doing some bit chomping, lacked consistency or quality in any gait, and was clearly nervous in the ring.
This is why I like to start with jumping, he doesn’t really get nervous in our over fences classes, and by the time we hack after having jumped he’s relaxed and tired. Going the other way around just doesn’t make for a great hacking horse which does not translate into any pretty shiny ribbons. It just wasn’t meant to be today.
After our hack we were posted order, 12th in the rotation. That’s another unique thing about WEF, barring any horrible conflicts (which they’re not super accommodating of); you go in posted order for all classes, period. It’s a double edged sword, there is no angling for a place in the order, and no horses moving all around, but it also then lacks flexibility of being able to move up or down depending on how your horse is going.
After watching a few trips, we went to warm up. Problemo numero dos. It was just one of those days where NOTHING WAS WORKING. The first five times I tried to get to a jump something happened. A person, a horse, a horse in front of me, another person, another horse crossing my path and preventing me from getting to the jump. It was really no one’s fault, but still frustrating and throwing off my timing and rhythm. On top of that, it meant that my already tired feeling horse did not benefit from an extra 5 laps around the warm up ring as added an exercise in futility of getting to the jump. Extra energy is not something DC specializes in.
When we finally made it to a jump (party!), it was just ok. I mean it wasn’t awful, but all of the cantering had worn on both of us and it was just kind of meh. That’s honestly how the whole day went. Meh. We jumped that direction a few times, and then switched to the other lead. Once again I tortured poor DC with my inability to get to the jump b/c of various reasons. The jumps after those additional 3 laps around the rings were actually quite nice (only by the grace of God) and we decided to go on that.
From here, I’d love to tell you only about our first jump in both rounds, as they were beautiful. But after the first jumps, we still had 7 to go, and those 7 is where the trickiness belied me. The first round started (as mentioned) with a beautiful vertical on the left lead. We then headed to a long approach to an oxer on the right lead. I got there in what I thought was a beautiful spot, and beautiful it was until DC took a big old look at that oxer creating a gap I wasn’t super prepared to support him over. So we jumped it, but I’m not going to say it was amazing. The next line was actually not bad, but then the second line wreaked havoc on me and my horse. Problemo numero tres. I pulled on the in, we jumped in short. Then down the line, I didn’t leg, and then I pulled, and then I legged and then I pulled, and then I legged. It was 8 strides; there was a lot of room for mistakes. In the end, the result was an ugly add jumping into the sun. Oops. To the last 2 stride, DC had lost all faith in my abilities (wouldn’t you?) and took over. Probleumo numero quatro. Unfortunately due to my aforementioned puniness, I didn’t do much to pull him back together and just let him lean on me and not balance down to the jump. The two stride actually worked out fine, honestly just by luck, but he landed on the left lead and needed to do a change. The changes on DC are automatic, easy, and an afterthought. However a horse that isn’t balanced, isn’t pushing off his hind end, and has taken control isn’t one that is really set up for a change. So we missed it. Sadness abounded.
I walked out of the ring to Matt saying “well that happened.” Which was a great summary.
The result was this picture over the last oxer of the weekend, taken by a barn mate of mine.
So. Worth. It.
DC is letting you all know that that jump had an Astroturf pole, and it was big and intimidating! Note the accompanying Astroturf wall, and though you can't see it, Astroturf topper and Astroturf ground line.
In the end, I think our day 2 show experience, although not confetti filled, was a good learning experience, showed me both strengths and weaknesses for both DC and I, and hopefully set us up for success next weekend. It also gave Matt some pointed material to work on in between weeks. I also met my goal and was not last in a single class. I hope I can keep this up in the next two weeks as well!
I headed back to the barn with my sweet sweet horse, fed him a bunch of treats, and told him he was the best. Again, I wouldn’t be here without him, and his talent.
Sadly, it was time to go home to Austin from 82 and sunny to 34 and raining. I really had forgotten what winter was all about in one short week. Going to the pool seemed like a much better option, but alas work had different ideas.