A nice, relaxed little jumping training show was exactly what we needed after a long, stressful HOY. And this outing proved to be exactly that.
It was rather a pleasure to just chuck the tack into the box and take the day off yesterday, instead of frantically scrubbing horses and trying to find my show tie. We were meant to take Starlight, Jamaica and Lancelot, but Destiny chose Thursday to pick a massive fight with Star. She kicked the living daylights out of him and taught him a good lesson, but did end up getting a nice fat bruise on her leg for her trouble. It’s minor, but still a bit sore, so we headed up to Midrand with only the two geldings this morning.
Both, incidentally, boxed really great. I was ready before the Mutterer arrived so, with Mom holding one outside, I just put them both in, tied them up and closed the partitions myself. A major perk of the four-berth – there’s no having to get out and go round to close the partition.
Sunlands habitually runs a little late, so it follows that I’d arrive super early and there’d be absolutely nobody in the parking lot. We got a good parking spot and leisurely tacked up the two boys, who were very chill. The Mutterer headed off to get our entries done and I took both boys for a walk around the empty warmup. They were looky but I mean, I was leading them both at once, so obviously they weren’t too bad.
When the Mutterer got back, I jumped on Jamaica and set off with a little trepidation. He’s always been very good with me, but I always have it in the back of my head that he was a wicked and unpredictable buck, so I always approach new situations with considerable caution. I’m glad I was careful, but he was stunning. He was maybe a little too relaxed – I had to grab my whip from the Mutterer and give him a few taps to wake him up. I was expecting a rocket launch over the warmup fences, but he barely noticed them.
The only complaint I have is that he felt a bit disobedient and wiggly much of the time. Not naughty exactly, just a little rude – drifting slightly towards the gate, tugging on my hands to try and graze when we were waiting. Every now and then, especially in new situations, he has a tendency to revert back to cheeky-kid’s-pony mode.
Once we were on course, though, this guy was all business. He took me boldly over every single fence and didn’t even think of overjumping or stopping. I had my neck strap, but I didn’t need it. He didn’t touch a pole, either. It helped that for the first time in my life I was actually able to think on course at a show. I made decisions, and most of them were good. I counted strides. I looked up and rode my lines and breathed without having to recite Psalm 23 at the top of my lungs – it may be the first show I’ve done in years that I didn’t recite at all.
That’s not to say I didn’t need God for every moment. Simply that the truth of the beloved Psalm sat so deeply in my heart today that I didn’t need any reminding. I know God is beginning to make a mighty change in me, praise Him, and He’s done much of it through fantastic coach K. Her lessons have made a massive difference already.
So Jamaica jumped all clear rounds today, and came third in the 60cm. I think he could have won it if I’d taken a few chances and cut some turns. The jump-off was simply over fences 1-6, and I rode exactly the same lines as I did in the first round, just put my foot down a little bit. Still, I’m glad I rode nice lines and gave him a good experience – it’ll stand us in good stead at the next show when we both trust each other better.
Lancelot was also a good boy, much more grown up than at his last show in January. He started out a little looky and tense over his back in the warmup, but didn’t ever actually spook. I only had 10 minutes to warm him up after jumping the 50 on Jamaica, but it turned out to be quite enough. He wiggled into the warmup fences a little bit, but I just made it clear that running out wasn’t an option and he gave up on the idea.
He was a bit heavy and leaning in my hand the whole day, something we’re struggling with at home, too. He doesn’t ever run away, he just hangs. I can get him back easily off my seat, but to be totally kid-safe he needs to come off the hand considerably. I’ll try popping him into a French link for a bit and see if the different feel gets him to back off a bit.
His jumping was still really impressive. At his last show he’d stopped at the first fence and wiggled at all the jumps. This time we did snort and look at stuff in the arena as we headed in, but as soon as he was aimed at a fence he was like “Oh, I know this!” and took me fearlessly over every fence. His steering was a bit glitchy now and then, but we got where we needed to be and jumped everything in a sturdy rhythm. In the 60cm he was even giving me lead changes over the fences, which I actually haven’t even taught him yet.
We did lose balance and fluff one distance in the 60cm, causing him to roll the pole down with his hind feet. I don’t really mind because it meant he wasn’t overjumping – rather a perk there, the chap can overjump properly when he wants to.
Thanks Lord for a great day out. Glory to the King.