You know, it amazes me how much my mental attitude has changed over the summer. February 2018 I took Gem to the FRC Schooling Rounds at the 18″ cross rail division. We trotted everything. I circled her between fences a few times. We made it over the course without knocking a rail. I left each time feeling like a complete and total jack ass. Sure we went over everything but it was ugly and messy and I felt like a complete joke. A part of it was the company I was keeping. A part of it was the fact that I was on a 20 year old mare that I had been riding for almost a decade and here we were barely making it over 18″ sticks. I can’t remember if it was this show or the jumper show prior to it that I literally said out loud during the round “Gem we are a joke, lets get this over with”. I retired her after that.
Saturday I drove back to the FRC Schooling Rounds and entered the 18″ barely there, cross rail division with Eeyore. We trotted most of everything, knocked number 7 hard because Eeyore likes to jump by braille (TM by 900DollarFacebookPony) and I left that arena feeling elated. I felt like I gave him a good ride for where we are and I was proud of both of us for going int here and getting it done.
Trainer AB was at the rail and had a huge smile on her face as we exited. She said she couldn’t have asked for better and that we were done. I was a tad disappointed that I only got one round in as I really wanted to go again, or even better go in at 2′, but the sun was relentless at 12 pm and Eeyore was overheated as it was. Our warm up had taken an hour, Trainer AB had taken him around the course first and he was pretty darn over it all by the time I got on for my round. He deserved to be done.
I never felt like an idiot or a joke on that course. I felt like I was having fun. A lot of fun actually and I didn’t give a rats butt if they were ground poles or 18″ or 5′. Eeyore was being a GOOD BOY, a hot and tired GOOD BOY, but a GOOD BOY nonetheless and thats all I could ask for from him at his first show.
The atmosphere that a year ago would have made him come unglued, was taken in stride. He walked away from the crowd of horses to stand in the shade without complaint. He stood at the trailer without rearing, though he did paw until Dusty threatened his life and then he settled down to sulk.
I have thoughts and feelings about the warm up. It sucks. People are rude. I wanted so very much to run over one specific trainer, but alas she moved out of my way. Sigh. That would have been the icing on the cake for me. I could have done without the same trainer, who really just needed punched int eh face lets be honest, standing at the rail and flapping like a bird, screaming nasty things at her poor kiddo students and then clapping loudly right as we went by her. Poor Eeyore just about had a stroke over that and I couldn’t blame him for it.
My own need for everyone to follow the rules, be organized and polite did not cope well with the horrors of the 18″ division warm up. Trainer AB, ever the Type B laid back persona, told me to use it as motivation to move up the levels as the warm up tends to not be quite so awful the higher you go. Kids on half wild ponies with trainers who stand right in front of the jump you just called out your approach to and refuse to move making you either run them over (my choice though Trainer AB said it would have been in poor form) or pull up right in front of it. Riders who don’t get the whole “pass left shoulder to left shoulder” thing. Riders who don’t understand that the jumps are flagged to be taken in one direction only.
But….even with my eyes the size of dinner plates and my anxiety at an all time high trying to navigate a small warm up arena filled to the brim with children only half in control when I myself am only half in control…we did pretty ok in there. Eeyore w/t/c both directions without throwing too much of a fuss. He only acted out once when a horse flew past us and it took him by surprise. Otherwise we managed to tackle the cross rail in warm up and not run into anyone on accident (or purpose, sigh).
Trainer AB wanted to take him over the course first as a good introduction. Neither of us had ever taken him over more than a gynmastic line and had zero idea how he would do. The crowd at the in gate, those waiting around in the shade, the announcers. All of it was a big question mark and given how he can sometimes be a bit of a jerk for a lesson where he likes to buck at the gate and decide he is in charge, we both decided that her in the rions first wasn’t such a bad idea.
It wasn’t needed though. He was AMAZING. He could have cared less about the crowds, the noise, the brightly colored jumps. Right now we are working on him not flying around on the forehand and dragging us to every jump, so she trotted every fence and had a nice round. She told me to do the same for my round and while I had some issues – he nearly halted after fence 1 and we were on the wrong canter lead coming around to fence 4 – I left feeling on top of the world.
I’m not sure where we are going from here or what our plans will be. Trainer AB mentioned a CT, so I think I’m going to look through the schedule and see what I can sign up for coming up soon.