Having ridden five clear rounds at 70cm on Magic (yes, five) I finally decided that it was time for him to jump graded. We picked a small and low-profile show nearby for this, which fortunately ran a training show as well, so I could haul some of the kids along too.
Magic was nervous for exactly 5 minutes of his initial warm up, where I rode him around the training warmup with the kids to make sure everyone’s brains were on. After that he went straight to work, lolloping over the tiny crosses and looking faintly bored. He had one fairly dramatic spook, nearly landing on top of Vastrap and his lease kid, but got over it remarkably quickly. Then, to my dismay, I found the way to the graded warmup. It was terrifying. A twisty, windy little path leading past the Manure Heap of Death, traversing the Cursed Stable Yard, heading into the Dark Woods and then passing (gasp!) the Water Feature of Doom. Magic doesn’t even do hacks. This was a spooky trail of terror and I was pretty sure the entire show was about to go severely downhill. Resigning myself to our fate, I left the kiddies with the Mutterer and began the trek.
I needn’t have worried. Magic was, obviously, petrified. So was I, but we kept it together just fine. All he did was stop and stare at things, snort once, and then keep going when I asked. We made it to the warmup in one piece, whereupon my stomach did a nasty little flip; the edge of the warmup was a few trees and a fence away from the main road, down which trucks and motorbikes were roaring and screeching. Once again, I wrote off the show in my head, and once again, Magic was a pro. He sort of wiggled his ears at it and then went directly to work, the angel. He really is starting to grow up. We had a lovely warmup, with one random little stop at the oxer (we both just fluffed the stride; he came right around and popped over it again) before I quickly walked the course. It was lovely – a decent height, but going easy on the filler. The only really scary thing was the second element of the combination, which had quite dramatic wings and was an oxer, but it was a two-stride and I had a feeling Magic would be just fine. Wings aren’t generally an issue for him.
There were only two horses in the class, which kept things even more low-key. The first horse jumped an easy, powerful clear, and then we were cantering down to the start of our very first graded showjumping track ever. Magic locked onto the first fence and took me straight over and all was beautiful from there onwards, except for the first element of the scary combination. I didn’t see the distance and just looked up and hoped for the best; Magic squished in a tiny half stride and a bunny hop, reached the second element at the most ploddy canter ever, and flowed over it without further ado. The rest of the course just slipped by under him and we were into the jump-off. This was simple, over the first 6 fences without any funky turns, and we basically went straight back in and did it. The other horse had a very careful clear round. I asked Magic to go up a gear and he hit a really nice forward rhythm, which carried us beautifully around the course. With his better stride he jumped the combination without batting an eyelid and I knew he’d done well when we galloped through the finish.
Magic won the class by 11 seconds. He also won a scary bag of fly stuff, so we had a very dignified lap of honour at the working trot while I held the bag where he couldn’t see it and prayed that it wouldn’t make any noises. We hurried back down to the training arena just in time for Liana to cart me around the 30cm, a warmup round to ensure she didn’t overjump her kid off, and totally unnecessary. She was calm and ready from the get-go. The kids and ponies went on to be awesome and kick butt; they did the 40-60cm classes, with Vastrap and his kid winning the 40cm and Liana and her kid coming second in the 50cm. And Vastrap only ran away once, which in his defence his kid appeared to greatly enjoy. (The Mutterer, less so).
Then it was back up the Trail of Doom for Magic’s second class. This time he was very chilled about the whole thing. Towards the end of the warmup I could feel him flagging slightly, so we did as little cantering as we could. I did put the warmup fences up to about 80cm as the next class was an accumulator and the joker was about as high and wide as the Great Wall of China, except that the Great Wall of China doesn’t have huge wings or terrifying flower boxes. I deliberated jumping it, but decided that if Magic felt good we would try it – go big or go home, right?
And felt good he did. He walked into the show ring with floppy ears like an old hand and willingly charged at number one, flowing around the course at a steady pace. It had a few very tricky little turns in it, but I sat down on him and he made them all easily, even angling one of the jumps without a care in the world. We had a really unfortunate rail at number seven. We didn’t even hit it on a bad stride; I think I just didn’t give him enough juice for it and he was a little tired, so he tapped it with his right front toe and down it went. Then we came around the corner and the joker was sitting in front of us. I was absolutely wetting myself, but Magic had already locked onto it, so I rode him at it with a prayer in my (very dry) mouth and he jumped it perfectly.
And I mean perfectly.
Any show where Magic goes home with four functional legs and a stomach that works is a good one, and this was an awesome one. He was so mature, so steady, and jumped beautifully. All horses and riders involved had a blast and we even got a smile out of the Mutterer.
And glory and praise and thanks to our beloved, beloved King Jesus. ❤