Friday afternoon I had a breakthrough at work. My surgical certification is coming up and a big part of it is submission of 13 selected cases. Since I’ve done work at three hospitals and two practices in my time since graduation, it was a lot of work to gather all the required paperwork and radiographs. Friday afternoon I was finally done. A big stressor was lifted off my shoulders.
So I did the best thing I could think of at the moment….I texted Trainer.
My brain was more than a bit fried at that point and at first I thought she meant to school between the show rounds. I was like “wait…come jump in a busy schooling ring for 5 minutes. That’s odd”
Thankfully I had enough neurons left to actually notice and read the text in the large orange circle and quickly figured out they were running schooling rounds after the CT ended.
Saturday was gorgeous out. Sunny, mid 60s and with a breeze. We desperately needed a sunny day around here. What was even better was that the Hubs was off work so I could get some media. Winning at life right now.
I decided for this show to put my Type A aside and not show up 4 hours early, instead opting to pull in at 11:30 with plenty of time to register, tack up, change my shirt and warm up. The best part was that Trainer was going to be there to help which would be the first time I’ve been to a show with her. It worked out super well with the timing. I don’t think I’d like to cut it that close gain, maybe give myself an additional 30 minutes or so, but all in all it worked out great.
We walked the course and it was interesting. Jumps 1 and 2 aren’t drawn right. Move 2 to the right so that it’s left standard is touching the right one of jump 1. It was a super tight turn. The take home from the course walk was to use the space to my advantage and hug the rail anywhere possible. Trainer pointed out two problem areas for other riders: horses were looking at 6 going from 1-2 and then being caught off guard by the sharp turn and then coming from 5-6 they were losing steam and a lot were breaking to trot through that turn. Going in I thought jumps 1-2-3 would be the hardest for us.
We then headed over to the warm up and Gem was amazing. Probably the most rideable I’ve ever had. Her trot was relaxed, slow and even and she took the cross rail and vertical without issue.
Trainer was pleased and so was I as we headed to the ring. I had signed up for four rounds and we discussed doing the 18″ cross rails to see how she was. If she was going well we could then try our hat in the 2-2’3″ division.
I go in and pick up a nice trot. Gem is listening. We head down past 1-2 on the left and 6 on the right as I make it to a good starting point for 1.
And Gem loses her ever loving mind.
Everything became a reason to spook. The flowers beside the fences. The hoof prints in the sand. The rail. The mud puddle. Her own damn shadow. Seriously. It was awful.
I lined her up for 1 and had no clue if she was going to go over or not. That became the name of the entire round. Would she or wouldn’t she? Thankfully she did say yes every time and I don’t think we would have gotten any refusals even if they were timing/scoring it, but it felt ugly.
Trainer said it didn’t look as bad as it felt but it sure did feel stupid. Here is the video if you care to watch us barely walk around 18″ cross rails while trying to not get eaten by the imaginary monsters. Dusty missed fences 1 and 2 on the video. This starts as I make my way to fence 3. Also, if you turn the sound up you can hear Wyatt cheering me on and me talking to Gem throughout. I believe at one point I tell her ” just go over the darn fence Gem” or something like that. I was more frustrated than anything.
The funny thing was that the turn to 1-2 wasn’t even bad. The turn from 4-5? Gross. By the time we hit 4 she had finally started to get the hint. After 4 was the only long straight stretch and it was towards home, so she took off. 5 was set at a funny angle off the rail. It was a right hand turn off 4 but then a left bend to 5 and the first go around I basically just stuffed her into 5. A year ago Gem would have noped her way out of that hot mess, but this time she went over.
Going back in the second time Trainer told me to ride both more defensively (stay more upright and in the back seat) but also more aggressively with keeping my leg on and insisting we jump. She told me not to let Gem convince me she had this and to take my leg off because that is when Gem says no.
I went back in with a plan. She had no reason to be so darn spooky and this time I wasn’t going to let her get away with it. More leg. More direction, more use of my own brain.
Dusty got the entire thing this time and it’s below
It felt so much better and I was so proud of Gemmie. She calmed down a lot and I’d say this time that half the jumps she took at an appropriate level of intensity versus over jumping everything like the first time. We botched 4-5 yet again as Gem decided she had this covered and wasn’t listening quite as well, so I decided to circle her and re approach rather than stuffing her at it.
Trainer was much happier with how this round went. Sure we were still snails out there but I did let her canter some and she continued to say yes. She wanted me back in again and to make that turn from 4-5 happen.
I was actually more nervous going in the third time than the first. Repetition usually makes Gem tense and speedy and I wasn’t looking forward to fighting her. Dusty switched over to pictures (no video) this round, so here are some shots.
I was wrong tho. She went in and owned it. Every jump came up from a much better spot, she came back to me and slowed down when asked and we owned 4-5.
The best thing was that she gave reasonable efforts over the jumps and it felt a lot smoother. I could tell she was pretty happy with herself at the end too.
When I left the ring the third time I knew it was our last round. Gem had been so good there was no need to ask it of her again.
There was also no way I was doing the 2-2’3″ division with her. Trainer agreed.
The best part? I ran into Bette! I got to meet Chimi and watch her warm up and do two rounds at BN. They looked amazing out there!!
I’m excited for next weekend. Hopefully she learned something this outing and will come out braver for our rounds at our home training facility. I think Trainer will be there too which will be great.