Here is my first post as a personal recap of competition I have competed in. I will probably write one from Gracie’s perspective later. These are my thoughts and perspectives on the competition and in all probability have very little correlation to the actual events that occurred.
After arriving at High Point Farm and unloading the horses I march up to the registration desk to sign my waiver and get my competitor number. This is the first time it really sets in that I am about to display whatever equestrian talent I have in front of complete strangers. still, to Amanda’s surprise, no butterflies are present in my stomach. In my mind I have already done the training and the practice now I just have to implement all of that preparation. With the bucket of participation goodies we head back to the trailer to settle in for the long wait. we arrived around 9 am for ride times that start at 2 pm. Gracie got some treats from the “Bucket O’ Goodies” and it was time to walk the cross country course… It seemed like there was always “something” to be done.
Maggie, Amanda, Auggie, Jackson, Cav, and I walked the course. It was not technically difficult and one jump lead right to the next one. No real surprises except for the Easter eggs around the course. There were jelly beans and chocolate kisses in the eggs and I may have eaten the jelly beans out of them and “re-hid” the eggs on the course. Surprisingly the course was easy to lay out in my mind andI had it on the first walk through. Jump order, position, lines in and out, and even thoughts about what would give us the most trouble. Never the less, our trainers told us to walk it again to make sure we had it straight. Next came the stadium course.
Much smaller than anticipated, both the jump heights and the area to jump in. The course was a nice leisurely figure eight setup. It only had one bending line and that was soft enough to almost not be called such. Everything looked very inviting and horse friendly and I knew Gracie would not mind jumping any of it. With all the course in my mind we make it back to the trailer just in time to see a friend do her novice level dressage test. Congratulate her on a good ride and have a seat for lunch at the trailer.
Oh look, its 1 pm! Time to start warming up the horse. Gracie has a bit of an attitude when not warmed up for about 30 minutes on the lounge line. So, we get tacked up and dressed up then proceed to walk trot canter in a warm up. Gracie does splendid! She is listening and trotting nice and even, she is even getting her canter depart without jumping into it. So,up we go! Time for the rider warm up before dressage. Thanks to Maggie we have a nice slow warm up. All the reminders of hands up, heels down, slow your posting, relax this is fun right? I hear the call for rider number 40! (I am number 42) and I start to get excited. This is it. The Dressage test! Canter circles be damned we are winners!
I stand a reasonable distance from the arena as number 41 finishes her test. As she walks out I begin my warm up trot around the arena. We are just trotting but it seems like forever before I hear the whistle to start. RELAX and trot in at A, smile and relax. Track left at C, smile and relax. 20 meter circle at E, this trot is way too slow. Oh CRAP! Canter between K and A…. Our canter circles suck! COMMIT!!!!!! 20 meter circle at A left lead, ooooh this is bad.
Ride to the rail! Trot between F and B, get back to the rail! Smile and relax. Walk at C, whew walking is good. H-X-F Free walk, smile and relax, smile and relax. Trot at A, even trot, same as before. At E circle right 20 meter,smile and relax. oh CRAP!!!! Canter between H and C… Our canter circle sucks! COMMIT!!!!! 20 meter circle at C right lead, I SAID RIGHT LEAD!!!! OUTSIDE REIN, INSIDE LEG! Was that a BUCK?!?! Awww Hell…. Trot between M and B, smile and relax. Down center line halt at X and salute. WE DID NOT FALL OFF!!!! WE DID NOT JUMP OUT OF THE ARENA! We won at dressage! No time to glory, go get ready to jump.
Trailer visit to get the martingale and jump strap installed on Gracie as well as her brushing boots. Now we are ready to head off to the jump warm up! The fun stuff! Auggie gets to ride his jump course 30 minutes before me so I get a chance to relax and just sit on a horse while watching his round. He did spectacular by the way. Maggie takes me over to the warm up jumps and we do a few logs and verticals. Everything is in order, heels down, eyes up, hands up, sit back, wait for her. Then the unthinkable happens the organizers tell me that they are running out of order and that I am next. Oops! I guess mental prep is right out the window…. COMMIT!!!! let’s go! To the start box.
Yes sir, I am number 42. He responds with,”30 seconds”. Waiting… “15 Seconds”. Move into the start box. “5,4,3,2,1…. have a nice ride.” Off we go, trotting to the first jump on the cross country field! It feels nice. No trainers, no other riders, just me and Gracie. Hey Look! That’s jump number 1 it looks so far away. We can enjoy the ride. OH! It’s right here already. Half halt and push her over the jump. JUMP STRAP! whew, 1st one down. The second jump is dead ahead. Lined up, on approach, boom! Done! No problemo. #3 is all the way down the hill and across the field. I can’t even see it. I know where it is though. La la la, trotting the course takes forever! Oh, snap! where did jump #3 come from! Line it up, sit down, push her over…. JUMP STRAP!!!! Still on the horse!
#4 is a left turn toward a green box like jump. Probably the tallest on the course at 2’3″…. I have a feeling she is going to look at this one all the way…. so I sit down and COMMIT to pushing her over the jump. Wheeeeee!!!!! Big air and I was not ready. I get left behind in the jump and her rump pushes me over and out of the saddle…. Thank goodness she has a long neck because that is where I end up. Gracie is not happy but, we are still in this thing. Everybody gets right in the tack and we trudge on up the hill to #5 a palisade! She loves these but, after the fiasco at #4 let’s not take chances.
Sit, push,JUMP STRAP! Clean as a whistle. Up the hill some more to #6 a baby log! This one was great! someone even got the epic slow-mo of the jump!
#7 was a hill or water option, We chose the boring hill side. Enough excitement for one day. #8 was the last jump into the stadium portion. A COOP!!!!! Now, Gracie doesn’t like coops. She has refused and run out on them before. With that in mind, I set up with the expectation she will run out or refuse. I give her good solid leg on the right (the run out side) and solid contact with the left rein. I am ready for this jump! Except she doesn’t do anything funny! She pops right over like it is no big deal! Here I am expecting some resistance and get none! Guess what happens… all that preparation only serves to throw me off balance! Out of the tack I go again! Losing a stirrup, my seat and, my composure. We come to a grinding halt as I try to find my stirrup and calm myself. Now, let’s do the stadium.
Everyone is back on the same page, Gracie and I are ready to go on with our jump round. I point her at the first jump and we trot up to it and Gracie thought we were done. She came to a dead stop and picked her head up straight into my face. Ouch! Well, that was my fault. But my saddle feels funny. I look down through watery eyes and see that my saddle is no longer on my horse’s back but sitting on her right side! Oh crap! My saddle is off of her back! Don’t panic, COMMIT!!! Stand in the stirrup, fix the saddle, move on. Point her back at the first jump. Push, sit, COMMIT! Again she stopped dead. Hmmm… Only one refusal left before ELIMINATION… We will not be eliminated. One more time. Line her up. Kick,kick,KICK!!!! Up and over, JUMP STRAP!! On to #2, Kick,kick,KICK!!!! Up and over. #3, Kick,kick,KICK!!!! Push with your seat! Up and over. #4 Kick,kick,KICK!!!! Up and over. #5 Kick,kick,KICK!!!! Up and over. Last one! #6 Kick,kick,KICK!!!! Up and over. And we are done! Not eliminated, not perfect, but done! Now we wait for results.
Back to trailer to untack and relax. We will place somewhere from 1st to 6th. We will get a ribbon. After horses are walked out and watered the group heads to the scorer’s table to await results. Gabbing and small talk happens and then they post the scores…. I can’t read them because Amanda and Maggie are standing in the way. Amanda looks at me and says, “you got 3rd!!!”. My response, ” I got WHAT!?!”.
How did that happen? We had a horrible jump round. We had a decent dressage. But we got 3rd! Success! Ribbon and prizes collected and basking in the glory of finishing.
This was fun and I thinking have to do it again. Maybe with a tighter girth and longer stirrups. But all in all a rousing good time. Thanks to my instructor and trainer for the pushes and the insight.