I trailered over with three other girls from the barn (and BM of course) at 7am for the Open classes. The show didn't start until nine, but in this strange discipline it's all about getting in the ring as many times as humanly possible before actually getting judged for things.
I opted out of the early schooling. My logic was that when we finally return to eventing, I won't have the luxury of schooling my course ten different times before going in for my round. We were doing the hack division first anyway so that would be my time for ring familiarization, and there were jumps set up in the indoor to warm up over. Besides, this is Bobby. He shows up to new places and gives zero fucks. I wasn't concerned about him freaking out about the sights and sounds.
|snacking while watching warm up...or more likely just playing on facebook.|
Spolier alert: That was not a good game plan.
|"rawr, i am so fast! the fastest of all these horses!"|
I got signed up for all my classes, went back to the trailer to get myself and Bobby dressed, and then finally joined everyone else in the ring. The hack division (apparently a made up thing for local shows that is basically a division just for flatting) was the biggest of the day. I'll be honest, I thought I was going to be showing against two of my barn mates and maybe a couple other riders on dopey lesson ponies.
No. I was not. Holy shit, these were some nice horses. The barn that was hosting the show does real hunter shows and most of the riders we were up against were on way better movers and rode a thousand times better than I do. Not ashamed to admit it, just the truth.
|bobby as dubious about this experience as i was|
We finally get everyone corralled and begin the first class. Bobby is powering along, gnashing his teeth and generally pulling the fucking stupid leather reins out of my hands (I fucking hate leather reins with a fiery fucking passion.), while giving stank eye to any horse that comes near him. As we pass BM, she tells me to try to let his neck get a little longer to see if it helps any.
Spoiler alert: IT DOESN'T.
|this is how all our flat classes looked|
He actually mostly held it together until was time to canter.
And then he lost his shit completely.
Bobby was pretty fucking sure the point of this exercise was to be the fastest racehorse, and whoever wins the race gets to jump the jumps afterwards. Winning that class by a mile!
|just gnawing on this horse's head who is probably freaking out about something|
bobby or S just did. reppin' the barn in style.
Fortunately (?? Sorry everyone else.) Bobby was not the only horse having histrionics. A was riding BM's horse who took great offense to anyone getting within twenty miles of his personal space and would have a mild bucking fit because feelings.
Here comes the absurd part:
|bobby: WHAT is THAT over THERE?!|
me: trying not to kill you. trying really hard not to kill you.
We actually beat people. We won our first class. Then we got third, fifth, and sixth. Uh, yeah. Seeing a downward spiral there? I honestly have no idea how we snagged that blue ribbon. I blurted out, "What?" when they called my number. Whatever, hunterland. Thanks for the satin.
I did do one smart thing this whole show. (Literally only one thing though.) When we got back to the trailer to wait for our o/f division, I switched out Bobby's plain eggbutt for his slow twist. I should have done that from the get-go.
After putting my winter coat back on over my jacket--having originally been dressed in heavy sweatpants, a wool sweater, and my coat to battle the 35* temps and 40mph winds--I went down to the ring to hang out with A and to see how many people there were going to be in the two divisions between us going again. There were only three kids in the 2' and four in the 3', so I naively thought we'd coast right through those two divisions.
Go ahead and get your laughs out, hunter riders.
|so little media from this show.|
I ate half a lunchable and got back on Bobby as the last rider did their 2' round. They decided to run the flat for the 3' division first which barnmate A had decided to do, so I took Bobby out to watch her go. After about two seconds of Bobby spinning around in circles, I hopped off and made him stand at the rail with me while waited for the class to start.
And waited. And waited.
Finally, the woman they were holding the class for (fucking hunters) showed up leading her horse, casually got on, entered the ring only to have her horse spook, and then immediately took him back out because she decided she wouldn't do it after all. No one else seemed fazed by this and the class finally started.
I got back on Bobby and attempted to do some work while the above rider longed her horse in half of the tiny box of an indoor arena for the next fifteen minutes. They finally left only to be replaced by someone hand walking their horse also in the tiny indoor in the opposite direction the rest of us were going.
The ring finally cleared out enough that there was only one horse parked in front of the two jumps instead of three, but it left me enough room to go over the 2'3" jump a couple times each direction. Bobby was a star now that I had the braking power of the slow twist, and finally, nearly an hour later, they called our division.
|did this tiny X for the bridle path hack. we had to trot it because bobby couldn't|
canter in a straight line. or really at all by the end of the hack division.
I handed off my nice, warm coat to A and let Bobby make big circles outside the ring as the rain started turning to snow. After two ticketed warm ups (Seriously, what is with you people? You already jumped the course for an hour before this show even started!), and three people doing their first rounds, it was finally our turn.
I could barely get Bobby near the gate as he started flinging himself sideways, but I finally channeled the sideways into the ring. BM was there to tell me to pet him and talk to him and don't pull on the reins. So I gave him a scratch, started telling him he was a good boy, and got him walking in a straight line before asking him to trot down the long side of the ring to get past the oxer before picking up the canter.
He launched upwards the second I cued him and picked up the wrong lead which upset him greatly. I brought him back to the walk and tried again, this time getting the left lead. He settled down then and cantered off on a nice long rein in a straight line.
We turned in to the first fence which seemed like a mile away, and I stared it down. And started pulling. Bobby obediently kept making his canter shorter and shorter as I picked and stared and panicked and blanked out, until finally we were underneath the fence and he lurched over from almost a standstill. I got flung up onto his neck and all I can remember is staring down at the ground thinking, "I can't do this. I'm going to get hurt. I can't jump these jumps."
|bobby: i got this jump, dumb lady. just let me do the thing.|
I halted Bobby after the jump and made myself take a breath. "You're okay!" I heard BM call from the gate. I thought I could just trot all the jumps because that might be less scary, but as I made the big turn to the next jump, the big, blinged out blue oxer, all I could picture was Bobby chipping in to that jump too, throwing me up on his neck again, and me getting hurt again.
So I finished my circle by the judge and asked to be excused.
Bobby nearly plowed BM over as we left the ring as he instantly went back to a jugging idiot, and while I sat there and had a crying pity party, BM tried to get me under control. "This is a big ring and he got a little unglued, but it wasn't even that bad. It was a long approach, and you pulled, and that's what's going to happen. I can't show him in jeans, but if you take him to another one of these, I'll be ready to get on him if you need me to."
I nodded and blubbered to her to scratch me from the other o/f class but that I'd at least come back out for the flat.
I immediately went back into the indoor and made myself jump the 2'3" vertical again, and then circle right back around and do the 2'9" jump beside it. I let Bobby open up, I didn't pull, and he took both out of stride without a worry in the world.
After waiting another 45 minutes until our flat class ran while I basically used my time to run through my dressage tests for this weekend to keep my psychotic brain busy, we went in and did what I thought was a really, really good flat class. And we came in last.
|horse doesn't care. horse just wants cookies and|
not to be seen in this outfit.
Obviously I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed in myself. I didn't do things right the whole day. I didn't give my horse the best chance to succeed. I didn't step up to the plate when I needed to. I didn't force myself to make use of a good schooling opportunity.
Bobby was fried by the time we finally got to do the jumping. I was on him for way too long, and he's not used to being ridden aimlessly around a bunch of cantering, jumping horses for hours on end. Yet he still behaved himself. He listened to my half halts, and even when they put him in an awful spot he got us both over the jump without even touching the rail while I just sat there and hung on his mouth.
Do we aim to do better next time? I don't know when the next time will be. I'm too scared to jump off property right now. I'm too worried about things going wrong and getting hurt again. I don't believe in my horse, even if he's proven he can be trusted to do his job. This is shaping up to be a much longer road than I anticipated.