I went into this show thinking three things:
- I was excited to try out the lessons I had learned at the Hunter Pace the week before.
- The 2’3″ jumps in my home arena were looking big, and I was scared of the fence height.
- It was really hot and really muggy and I was afraid of having enough horse.
The show was only about a ten minute drive from our barn, and we were entered in the first afternoon class of the day, so it was a very late morning, as shows go! Getting up at 9 is way better than getting up at 4:30 – no complaints there.
Robbye got on the trailer on her first try – using her big girl brain right away! – and when we got to the venue I put her chain over her nose before we got out of the trailer. This strategy worked really well – though she was much less dramatic than she has been before, I still was able to feel well in control when she started screaming and her brain shut off.
We took a long walk around the venue, and received lots of compliments on my crazy horse. I have to admit, Robbye’s certainly nice to look at when she’s all puffed up.
By the time we returned to our trailer, Rob was much calmer (!!!) and our warm-up round was being called to prepare. Perfect timing; I wanted to do most of my warm-up in the ring to preserve her energy…and mine.
Our warm-up in the warm-up ring was completely undramatic. No bucking, no bolting, no screaming. Nice transitions, nicely forward, just a couple small fences then it was time for our warm-up round in the ring!
…And it was great. Robbye enjoyed the hell out of the round. She galloped out, locked onto every fence, and completed very cute little simple changes. She didn’t even consider running out of anything, until we approached a slightly weird-looking fence and I chickened out. I saw it and just knew she was going to run out, and I’m sure that’s the only reason she did! But she took it on our second try, and I was very pleased.
Best of all, the jumps didn’t look large to me at all. The fill didn’t frighten me, and I was much more nervous about the show environment than I was about the fence height. Confidence wise, I hope I’m finally getting back to where I was before my fall.
At this point the heat was just unbearable, and you could practically swim in the air it was so humid. I knew I wasn’t going to have any chance of qualifying for the division high points, and I really was just there for the jumping experience, so I scratched from the flat class. I’m very happy with that decision, since Robbye got to get entirely untacked while we waited for jumping to resume.
For our first judged round, Rob was just as awesome as in her warm-up round. Very forward, nice little simple changes when she didn’t land on her leads, and having a lot of fun. Sadly, there was a weird, scary sound on our approach to the same fence she had run out on the warm-up round, and I really just let her run out on it again. GAH!
For our second judged course, I was determined to earn a clear round. Didn’t have to be pretty – damn it I’m never going to be a hunter and neither is she! – but I wanted it to be a zero-fault round.
The “Annye-thinks-it’s-scary” fence was the second to last jump. We had jumped clear up to there.
As I landed from the fence before it, I immediately began talking to myself. “We’re going to get this jump, Annye. First try, Rob. It’s not scary. It’s like 2′ tall. We want a clean round!”
And…over we went.
As we landed, I yelled, “Good GIRL, Rob!”. Maybe we would have placed better without it, but I was just so happy. We haven’t had a jumping round without any runouts, stops, or rails in…two years, probably. We’re finally getting to the point where I’m brave enough and she’s submissive enough to complete courses without making those kinds of silly mistakes.
That feels SO. GOOD.
And we ended up placing fifth out of nine, which I’m quite pleased with. Simple changes, yelling, and all.
I still feel silly celebrating such a little fence when last year I was doing 3′ courses. But I’m trying to get over it. Truly, we’re at a better place now than we were last summer, even after our crash.
And it really does feel good to get “not-last-place”, too.