Day 10 was all about redemption. I woke up with an “I AM NOT A TRAIL RIDER, I JUMP HORSES OVER STICKS FOR FUN AND I WILL DAMN WELL ENJOY IT” attitude. In other words, I needed to shake off the Colorado blues, and go out and ride my best. I felt like this was a grand plan until I walked up to the ring to inspect my courses. It was handy day in the A/Os, which is a class that I can either nail, or completely blow. It never seems to be anything in between for me.
The day was set up with no warm up, and the handy going first. As I looked at my courses, and the jumps in the ring, my hands literally started to sweat. I was staring down my biggest fear of all, which is a canter directly away from the in gate to the DREADED hay bale jump. On the bright side it was not astroturf. On the not so bright side, DC and I have a history of jumping hay bales which is not pretty. I don’t know why, but he finds them to be the SPOOKIEST kind of jump out there, second only to giant astroturf walls.
I think at that moment my text to Matt read something incoherent like.
Haybales, ring, canter, handy, 911 911 911 911.
I’m only exaggerating the appropriate slight amount.
You own the haybales.
At this point I feel as though the haybales own me and not vice versa, but I’m glad someone is confident.
I toddled around basically doing nothing except thinking about the dreaded haybales until it was time to show. One track mind.
When I did finally get on, DC felt absolutely great. We had experimented with a different hoof packing and a little bit of electrolyte and vitamin paste, and honestly I felt like he was moving and feeling about 100% times better than the day before. He was never ever sore or off, but his body just felt looser and more comfortable. The technical footing is great for being all weather, not so great for feet.
After warming up, I walked up to the ring, took a deep breath, and was sent off with a typical Mattism “Have fun rider.” I stepped into the ring, and immediately picked up a beautiful right lead for an approach to the DREADED hay bales. Good canter, good canter, there it is, the jump, there it is, slightly gappy DC jump NOW. And jump he did.
I know, it seems like I’m making a bigger deal out of these haybales than they ended up being, but honestly, it’s 80% a mental game for me, and this was a moment that I FREAKING CONQUERED. After that, the world was my oyster. I had a lovely left lead roll back to an Oxer, a fantastic inside turn to a vertical in of a line, followed by another lovely right lead roll back. Next was an inside turn up the inside line, to an immediate left hand turn to the trot jump (trotting only 5 feet away, go me). The finish was a long bending line, I was a little close coming in and a little long coming out, but quite honestly it was hands down the best trip I had turned in in Colorado. I even got a whistle from Matt. Whistles are hard to earn. As I walked out of the ring, he says to me “Haybales, owned.” Truer words could not have been said.
My second trip was also quite good, though I did have one bugger of a swap to a left lead line. But overall, super. I jogged 2nd and 3rd. Well, I jogged, DC dolphined, played, squealed, and then took at least 5 normal trot steps so the judge could watch. Thank God.
Someone was both feeling super proud of himself, and super good.
For me, I actually managed to jump my horse over sticks in a reasonable way, which seems to be the singular goal.