First and foremost, I was expecting us to win and nothing else was going to be acceptable. Why? Because our local t.v. channels never show Ravens games, and for once they actually were. I warned Bobby that anything less than a blue ribbon was unacceptable, and if I was going to have to miss watching my favorite team play only to lose at this show, he was going to the Amish.
Spoiler: For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, you saw that we did not get a blue ribbon. So Bobby is now in a pasture with a bunch of skinny dairy cows where we dumped him on the way home.
Another spoiler: Not really.
We got to the show a couple of hours before dressage because we had so little time between dressage and jumping that I wasn't going to be able to walk my course then like I usually do. The parking area was insane with lots of people parking their cars next to trailers instead of in front of them which obviously took up an entire parking space for people with horses. Way to be dicks, people. We finally managed to squeeze our way in right next to the rope around the course, and then spent the next hour watching horses slam on the breaks or refuse to get near the table we were parked next to.
I mention this because Robert was also watching the action, and he was totally pumped he was at a show where he would get to do his favorite kind of jumping. When I tacked him up, he clocked me in the back of the head with his own giant dome while swinging it around to watch a horse freak out about the jump behind us. He went prancing off to the warm up where he was equally pumped to be right next to the horses going through the water complex which is inconveniently placed directly next to dressage warm up.
Bobby was a hot, tense mess for the entire warm up. He was yanking on me and completely blowing through my half halts. I went in with thirty minutes to warm up and literally trotted nonstop the entire time. He just would not relax. He was way too busy focusing on the horses on cross country to do anything like bend (and I tried lateral work and counter bending all over the place), or slow down (though I got a small response to halt halts right before we went in), or fucking stop pulling.
|"what is this dressage you speak of? JUMP ALL THE THINGS!"|
Needless to say when we went into the ring I knew it wasn't going to be much of a test. Bobby wasn't remotely soft and while he didn't go zooming around and was pretty obedient, this was going to be a high scoring test for us.
We ended up with a 37.4 which is number three on his worst dressage scores ever list (Why, yes. I do keep track. Is that OCD? No, of course not.), but still managed to put us in fifth.
I got Bobby sponged down and settled back into his hay after dressage and promptly doubled over and fought back vomit. I'd been drinking Gatorade like crazy all morning, but sitting in the sun and riding in the unexpected heat just hit me like a fucking wrecking ball (Thanks, Miley.). I was shaking and barfy, and combined with being a little nervous for stadium anyway I wasn't sure I wanted to go through with the rest of the show.
But after sitting in the shade and sipping water, I tacked up last minute feeling a little better. Last show of the year, bitches! It had to be done!
Bobby was a little behind my leg warming up over fences, but I kept at it and finished only when I felt him go forward to the jump. I got in line with one person to go in front of me, and as I turned around to make a circle outside the ring, the steward blew the whistle for the other horse to start and Bobby went shooting forward, leaping into the air while simultaneously spinning back around to face the ring. Awesome. This was going to go great.
We finally got into the ring for our turn and Bobby was on fire. However, his on fire was not really what I had in mind. He was so hot/excited/tense/fucking retarded that he just bounced around in place with his face in mine while I dug my spurs into his sides and clung to my grab strap trying to get him to just go forward.
Obviously that did not make for a pretty round. There was much deer leaping and flailing, and at one point he jumped a 3' vertical from completely underneath the fence without so much as rubbing the rail. Obviously I also let out a swear word at that point. However, Bobby may be a complete asshole at times, but he does not like touching wood and we finished clear. He was very proud of himself. I was just glad it was over.
The rider behind me walked down to the start box with us and asked how long it'd been since Bobby had come off the track. I was like, "....four years. You know, not four days." Fortunately she was also on a hot OTTB who was coming over from the jumpers and was doing her first event and was able to commiserate.
The first four fences were pretty straight forward. No problems over one and two, the weird terrain on three shifted Bobby a little too far left and I almost took out the flag with my foot, and four he must have thought too closely resembled a stadium fence and got a little hoppy to it.
Then there was the dreaded fence five where the Starter and BN riders had been running into so much trouble (including a few falls). It was a long, slightly downhill run to a wide table decorated with hay. You had to balance back for the terrain, but still ride forward to get a good jump to the big fence. I felt Bobby suck back several strides away as he took a good look at what was apparently the most terrifying hay in existence, but I closed my leg and gave us some vocal encouragement (because what would a course be unless I was obnoxiously blathering to myself the whole time?) and he galloped right over it. Good pony!!
Right as we were about to cross the road, the jump judge held up her hand and called out something to me. I thought for a second there was a car coming, but once I got closer I heard her say "Hold". I pulled Bobby up and was told the rider in front of me had a fall and had to get a ride off course in the ambulance. She ended up okay, but must have been shaken up pretty badly. We walked around for a little over five minutes before we were cleared to go again.
Fortunately, the next jump was a pretty straight forward hay feeder that we went right over, then down and around to the ditch that Bobby spent a long time looking at as if he wasn't quite sure he was willing to put in the effort to actually jump it or just canter on through it. Like, I'm glad he's not afraid of ditches, but I do wish he'd show them a little more respect. He decided at the last second he could put in a modicum of effort and lift his feet over it.
Easy peasy for the next several fences. I was just trying to get Bobby's front end up and maintain some control, but there wasn't anything I was really worried about. He was locked on to the double barn combination and we didn't have another stupid run out there this time. I tried to haul him back to a trot approaching the water since the downhill entrance to it caused him to balk at it earlier this year, but he was having none of it (listening to me, that is). He decided to show me his bravery by leaping into it instead. Thanks, bro.
Last jump was another simple coop and we were clear! That's how you finish out the season!
Bobby got stuffed full of cookies back at the trailer. He may be one of the naughtiest horses in the world, but he is one brave cross country pony and he really does love his job. We ended up finishing on our dressage score and moving up to third place overall. He got a giant bag of cookies with our ribbon, but he refused to eat them so they went to his buddy Memphis instead.
Now that we're done with shows for a good long while, Bobby gets a mental vacation and will only be hacked around on trails for awhile. I can't let him sit or his butt will fall off. Prepare yourselves for boring posts, is what I'm trying to say.
Wait, what's that? I almost forgot something?
BUH-BAM. HELMET CAM: