A lot of lessons were learned at the show. I could have walked away from this experience dejected. I mean, I just got my butt handed to me by a bunch of 8 year old girls in literal pigtails on lesson ponies. My time was slow by a full minute. Gem tried to leave the arena upon entering. I had a total of 4 refusals between the two rounds. I forgot where my fence was.
But we jumped. Every single fence. No rails down. Even with a crowd of people hanging on the rail. Even with a crap ton of flower filler. Even on a height we haven’t ever even schooled. Gem said yes. The refusals were my fault. I didn’t set her up right or I stopped riding. Maybe a better/more forgiving horse would have said yes anyway but we all know by now that isn’t Gem. And yet she said yes 20 times.
That’s pretty amazing.
Beyond that though I learned some things.
First, the next time I’m signing up for every freaking class possible to stave off the bone numbing boredom that hanging out for hours on end at a h/j show by yourself creates. Hubby was off entertaining Wyatt and I just stood there. When I saw the class schedule I had no clue what half the classes were. Now I know. Sure we would never win in the hunter equitation over fences 18”, but damn that course looked easy. Outside line, diagonal, outside line. Sign me up for that next time!
Second, I ride better over bigger fences. I was more nervous going into the 2’ class having never jumped a course set to that height before and maybe that is why, but looking through the screen shots my position is way better during the 2’ round than the 18” one. I think it has more to do with the fact that Gem required a stronger ride, I was more secure having just done it before and therefore I dug in and got it done. Plus Gem had to actually jump instead of zooming over which helped me too.
I talked to Gem. A lot. Kinda loudly too to the entertainment of the judge and spectators. I talked to her the entire time. “Ok Gem we’ve got this. Jump it!” “Sorry Gem! My fault let’s try again” “We look like fools out here but come on let’s finish this thing” on and on. I even told her I was a wimp. I talked and she responded by being more present. She looked around a lot less than normal and was more focused. Point taken and thank you to blogger of 3dayadventureswithhorses for the suggestion on another one of my posts. It helped a lot!
I really believe that the cross country schools are helping our arena jumping 1,000 fold. I may never be brave enough to enter a HT with her, but the schooling will continue. It’s made her a better jumper. It’s made me braver and more bold. We were coming to the yellow fence 5 in the 2’ round and I knew she hadn’t liked it before. With one refusal already I wasn’t going to let her say no there. She twisted and turned her butt and I stayed firm in my leg pressure and didn’t give up. She jumped it.
18” verticals, even on a short or odd approach, no longer bother me at all. I made her jump them from a standstill no issues. The 2’ course began scary but by fence 3 I was down for it and by fence 7 I was laughing out loud, giggling to myself and having a blast. That’s a major change from 9 months ago when I wouldn’t even jump a 12” cross rail.
Other than the boredom factor, which could have been lessened had Wyatt’s class not been #6 and mine 16, I quite liked the jumper show. I liked that you could enter multiple classes and just keep going. I liked that it was only $10 a class. I think I’d like to keep going and building our confidence. I also think that Gem could be a really good jumper. She is fast, athletic enough to take the inside turns and this is a game she understands the point of. I’m just not sure I’ll ever be brave enough to let her do it.
All in all it was an amazing experience. It wasn’t perfect and I’m pretty sure we only beat the girl who fell off in the 18” and the girl who was rung off course in the 2’ round, but I don’t care. I throw all my ribbons away anyway (did I just hear all my readers have a collective stroke?). I left happy. Gem? Well she seemed ok with it all. I’m ready for the next one!