Monday, May 20, 2013

What Was I Thinking? -or- Our Debut Over Fences (part 1)

Holy cow!
Be warned, this is a novel of a post...

For practice, we braided. I was going to wear a coat and everything just to make sure all was in working order. It’s been a while since I showed all out, and I have some new gear I want to be sure of… Overnight, she rubbed half (the MIDDLE half!) of her braids out (despite a hood), so I decided to scrub braids and show coat. Trailer had a flat! Good thing we scheduled extra time…

So, where’s the warm-up ring? No warm-up ring to speak of… We just rode in any open, grassy area… hopped over a tiny XC log in the middle of nothing in particular… So she remembered her gaits, correct leads, and that she is capable of jumping tiny things…

The cross-rail course looked so cute! We started with the 2’ hunters. I mean, she jumps 2’6” to 2’9” at home… Free jumping 3’ without even trying…

And let’s talk about preparing for this show! About a month ago, the Psycho mare lost her confidence when she stepped on herself going over a jump. When I say she stepped on herself, it looks like she scraped her back hoof straight down the back of her front leg from knee to fetlock! We took a week to let it start healing, then made it a point to boot up every single ride… Just as we were ready to start jumping again, a rule change at the barn made jumping in the indoor arena prohibited. At all. So, after much discussion, that was adjusted to jumping ONLY Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings between 7:30 and 8:30… Um, I get up at 4:45. My bedtime is 8:30. Why couldn’t we just jump somewhere else, you ask. Normally that would be fine, except that the spring rain we so desperately needed just would not go away. Ever. No turn-out. No outdoor arena (quick sand?). No grassy lot. No jumping. Two weeks before the show, we took a chance in questionable footing (super sloppy sand), and jumped over a tiny (12”?) rail just to remind the Psycho Mare that we do go over these things. Besides, eventing horses need to be able to work under various (even less-than-ideal) footing conditions and terrain. Once she remembered how to jump anything at all, we called it good for the day. The rains continued, and the focus on dressage remained. The week of the show, I managed to get in my one-and-only jumping lesson with the trainer. The exercises were great and incredibly helpful! I practiced the same things the next day. I had a straighter horse, but the jumping form from her was… well… inconsistent. Since we were just going for experience, I decided “at least I can get her over the fences” and figured we can work on form later. Trainer said, “Oh, yeah. Make sure you pop her over an oxer before you go so that she has at least seen one!” Guess what didn’t happen?

The 2’ course looked inviting. I noticed the fences looked more solid the further along the course we went, ending with a stone wall! I was slightly concerned about that wall, but mostly excited.
No, it wasn't quite that high when we jumped it...

I knew I could keep her straight (relatively). All I had to do was get her over them. Well, enough leg should take care of that… Into the ring we went! Here we are to make out debut over fences! We cantered to the first fence (a rail with some flowers under it) and she stopped!!

She never got wiggly. She didn’t slam on the brakes. She just collected herself to a nice round stop and looked at the flowers. Oh, no. This is not OK. She has to get over it! So, I grabbed mane, threw my heart over, and thumped her with my legs… and she hopped it! Hooray!

We trotted to the next fence. And stopped again. She didn’t try to step sideways or backward. It was always this nice, round, forward-moving stop… But it wasn’t over the fence! **thump** and over we went!

We did this for all 8 fences, including the stone wall. Now, I’m wondering if I should scratch the jumper classes we were going to do, and maybe even the entire 2’3” division…

I regrouped and went in for my second course, which was pretty much the reverse of the last course. I trotted the first fence, she cantered out and hopped right over the second fence… I was elated as I turned for the next line… and then I realized I was riding THE WRONG COURSE! They were generous and let me start over. =D

For the 2’3” division, we had more flowers show up, and she looked at each new thing… However, she looked at them while we were in the air jumping over it! Silly mare!

She quickly figured out this whole idea of courses: jump in the middle, stay on the straight line, jump in the middle of the next one!

She took a well-deserved rest while we cheered a teammate, then we came back for 2 jumpers classes: 2’-2’3” and 2’3”-2’6”. I studied our next course, and got really concerned about a particularly hard-looking turn… I had never asked her to jump so much twisty-turny stuff… Well, we were here for the experience, so away we went! I didn’t worry about time, I just kept her together and focused on tight, balanced turns. She didn’t even blink over the turn I was concerned about! It was the most fun ride I had ridden all day, and I had been having a ball in every one.

Remember how we never rode over an oxer? Like, ever? I considered the stone wall we had been riding all day an oxer. They had also been putting up 2 rails over the brick coop thing. She didn’t seem concerned about it. In our last course, however, we had to jump this:

Never jumped an oxer?  Do the swedish at your first show!

She was so confident that she knew what was going on, she didn’t even look at it until the last stride.  I felt her eyes go as big as saucers!  She threw in an extra half-stride to study it a little harder making her take-off spot ridiculously deep…  and pulled the back rail with a slight rub.  I wasn’t riding for time, other than the tight turns, but it turned out that we were nearly 10 seconds faster than every other ride.  Unfortunately, we were the only ones to pull a rail.  I could not be prouder of the Psycho Mare who started the day stopping at every 2’ fence and finished with a very respectable and handy 2’6” jumper course with only 1 rail down out of 57 jumping efforts!

You mean, we got a ribbon?
And who can complain about loot (or ribbons, at least)?
The goal for the day was to stay on and make it over the jumps!
We are *SO* ready for some cross-country schooling now!
More pictures from the show coming soon...


  1. Can't complain about ribbons at all! Sounds like y'all had a really positive experience and she just got better and better... can't ask for better than that :)

    1. I could not be more proud of her! She has a sharp mind and just keeps getting better.



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