I really do hope that the title “Derby Time” initiates a rendition of “U Can’t Touch This” in your head like it does for me. In fact from now on I imagine myself walking into the ring singing (rapping?) “Can’t stop, derby time. Ohhhoooohhooohhooooo oohhhooohhhohooohhhoo”
So, yes my first show day in Colorado after a fun filled week of work and more work was Derby Day. I have to say that it is not my ideal situation to get no prep rides and go straight into the Derby. I need practice. It’s not like I’ve been practicing almost every day of my life for 25 years, no not at all. Matt and I discussed it ahead of time, and we agreed my best course of action was to do the Ch/Ad derby instead of the National. Less entries, less pressure, more fun.
Let me start by saying this, for some reason in my head, the National and International Derbies were running in the derby field (an arena normally reserved for jumpers), and the Pony and Ch/Ad were running in Hunter 1. I arrive at the horse show at a leisurely time of 9 am (yay for a sleepy pony and no hacking), and meander up to the ring expecting to find the pony derby running. What I found instead is no ponies in sight and a derby underway that was most definitely horses. I think to myself OH GOD THEY STARTED EARLY, I NEED TO GO GET ON RIGHT NOW.
So instead of doing the sensible thing and asking the paddock master what the deal was, I RUN back down to the barn to get ready, get DC, grab my saddle for TJ, and then hurry back to the rings. It did not help that Tino was all, yes Anna, yes get on right now!!!!! TJ was starting his day with the 2’3 Rusty Stirrup Hunter, so he would meet me at the ring after he was done (more on this in a minute).
I walk (rush) DC up to the ring at a speedwalk pace, only to get there and see…ponies in hunter 2? Professionals in hunter 1? So in a very confused and panicked way, I do finally walk up to someone who actually knew what was going on (paddock) to ask what the deal was.
Me: (very casually) “um what is going on?”
Paddock: “with life, with the horse show, with the ring, can you be more specific?”
Me: “your ring, what happening how near now?” (essentially I’m incoherent with panic)
Paddock: “um well, National, I have 20 trips left.”
Me: “oh um ok thanks bye.”
Right.....my derby was in Hunter 2, not hunter 1. And yes, so in a blind panic I drug my poor horse to the ring for no reason whatsoever. Lesson of the day, ask before action.
I took DC back to the barn for a little more relaxation and the plan of another hour before I even walked the course.
The course itself was pretty friendly, and even though there are options listed, they were not height options, just options to choose between the two jumps.
I got a plan together with Matt and Meghan for the two horses, and was listed as 5th in the order on TJ. As I mentioned earlier, TJ was also in the 2’3 rusty stirrup with his new leasee, so in his ever so champion ways, he went directly from the 2’3 division to the derby with me. He warmed up great, and although we didn’t do a full warm up since he had already done a full division down below, he felt awesome. My plan was to do the inside jump of option 2 to the outside jump of option 3 in 9 strides, then the inside jump of option 6, followed by the left side of option 10 to finish.
On TJ jump 1 was fabulous, but he was looking off the rail at jump 2. I applied leg, not much response, more leg, still not much. EVEN MORE LEG, and got a huge flyer of a jump and a very hard rub. It was a gallop 9 up the hill to jump 3 (as expected, but even more so after the flyer). Jumps 4 to 5 TJ landed left, and I pulled right for the bending line. Since we are just a bit out of practice he swapped in front to the right lead an then back again. 6 to 7 was nice. We jumped in the in and out at jumps 8 and 9 well, but he ticked both of them pretty hard. Finishing on jump 10, he was quite strung out after landing off the in and out, and honestly, I did not do a good job putting him back together. TJ strung out is not a good thing, he’s so damned long, I imagine it feels like riding an orca and trying to find a distance. The result was another flyer at jump 10, combined with a swap at the base. Given the issues, we scored a very respectable 70.
DC was in the lineup at 15th, so he once again made the trek to the ring to get ready. He got there a little early, and Tino entertained my boys while I watched a few trips go.
I warmed DC up and he felt completely awesome. Very much on our A game. Even if there was some HIGH drama going on around us due to the stress of two derbies going on at once. Bad idea.
We started out beautifully at jump 1, and learning my lesson from my looky horse earlier, I changed my turn to jump 2, also resulting in a beautiful fence. The canter up the hill to jump 3, I got less of a gallop and more of an open stride. Given that it was an unrelated distance, I was able to change my mind mid line about the number of strides I wanted to do. Unfortunately I had eaten up all of my room trying to make the 9 happen, so ended up with a tight 10 strides. DC had a beautiful bending line 4 to 5 and 6 to 7 was gorgeous. So far so good, right? Down the hill to the in and out, we jumped in great, and I was super happy with that jump…and then…we just absolutely clobbered the out. WTF???? I mean DC is known for over jumping by a foot, not so much for hitting jumps. Out the door went my great score, and handy round. We finished nicely on 10, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was REALLY disappointed in the rail. Scoring a 46 was not exactly in my plans.
As I waited for the last trips to go, TJ’s score hung in for the handy. With only one horse to go, I was still in 11th, which means we made the second round!!! You have to understand the number of times I’ve just missed the cutoff on TJ to understand how excited I was to have made it. The only complicating factor was the fact that he still had a Rusty Stirrup eq on the flat and under saddle to do down below.
They held the flat classes for him while I finished my second round.
I started with a GREAT right lead to fence one, followed by a super super handy inside turn to the trot fence 2. I was supposed to go to the inside option at jump 3, but had to do a lead change so changed my plan to the outside option. Then I did another handy turn inside the tree to the option at 4. We then went all the way around the ring to a great fence 5 and 6. I was very focused on my roll back to jump 7, going inside. Unfortunately my focus on the rollback made me not focus on the ermmmmm lead change that was necessary. Oooops. Darn. We completed the lead change late, and then had great fences 7, 8, and 9. Too bad, otherwise it was really nice. We scored a 68.
He ended up 9th and one out of the money, but I did get a long pretty ribbon out of the deal!
TJ then headed down to finish up his trusty rusty stirrup classes.
In summary the most amazing horse ever walked away with two firsts and two seconds in rusty stirrup over fences, won the hack, got 4th in the eq flat, and in between was 9th in a derby. Have I convinced you yet that he’s the best horse ever??? Especially considering if I could pull my head out of my arse we probably would have easily been in the money in my class. Not bad for a horse I haven’t shown consistently in over a year.
After finishing with my derby, I had no less than 4 conference calls to do that afternoon, so I did what any respectable working rider would, and found a quiet place to watch the international derby run, while doing my calls at the same time. Multitasking is key.