As far as rides on Bobby leading up to the show, things really couldn't have gone better. I added his running martingale back on and switched out his egg butt for a slow twist dee since he can get a little exuberant in a show environment when jumps are present. All week long though, he was super rideable, listening to a little shoulder wiggle to slow down, and clearing the jumps with room to spare.
|what hurricane? it was 60* and sunny all day.|
My own show prep was marred on Saturday when I was loading up the trailer and connected my knee to the door frame of the dressing room with such force that I was pretty sure I'd broken something--like my will to live. One of the (many) things about being blind in one eye is your complete and utter lack of depth perception, and navigating small spaces is incredibly tricky for me especially since I'm a fucking klutz in general.
Fortunately (I guess), even when my knee cap blew up with edema, it was actually more comfortable bent at an angle and I had less pain sitting in my saddle than I did standing. Unfortunately, the morning of the show I managed to finally pick up Hubby's head cold and spent the early hours before heading out curled under blankets on the couch wishing for death--or at least the ability to sleep all day while not moving ever.
With that auspicious start to the day, we got to the barn to find my horse turned out despite the sign on his door asking for him to be left in. He was still cleaning up his breakfast hay so he hadn't taken the time to roll yet which was nice of him. I parked him at the ramp of the trailer while quickly wrapping his legs, and then shooed him on for the quick jaunt down to Geneseo.
I'd never done a jumper derby before, but I did a lot of youtube stalking of past derbies at this venue so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Apparently some derbies do dressage beforehand as well? This one was just the jumping, and I'd signed up for Open Novice as a warm up round, and Training Rider as the penultimate competition...which sounds lame, but I don't care. Training blocked no longer!
|and even though it was warm, i was dying to finally wear my purple shirt for a show|
so i sweated it out. worth it.
We arrived right as BN wrapped up and they had started switching the course for N. I was happy to see this round started with a cross country jump since I kept telling myself to treat this like a cross country schooling in an attempt not to freak myself out about stadium jumps. Yes, rails that flop harmlessly onto the ground freak me out more than any solid fence.
The course looked completely fair for the level--maybe even a little soft. The water was really deep, and there was a log in between trees in the shade off a sharp turn directly out of it that caused a lot of problems for people. The ditch was also huge, deep, and filled with water from the rain earlier in the week, and the ponies were not loving that.
Bobby warmed up really great. I brought him in off of long approaches because one of our main issues is keeping the same canter coming up to the jump instead of charging towards it. No problems there as he was listening to everything I told him.
|look! getting ready for a turn without cranking my horse's head around with my own!|
Then we got in the ring, I didn't get quite a good enough canter going, and I balanced him back a little too much heading into the first jump without putting enough leg on and he crawled over the roll top. I realized my mistake right away and quickly put my leg on when we landed. The second jump was fine, but he backed off to the third and when I dug my spurs in, he reverted to the up and down canter instead of just going forward. Mr Spanky got us over albeit awkwardly, and then Mr Spanky paid his butt a quick visit to try to get the cruising speed up.
|mr spanky is about to say hello.|
It didn't really work. He was still pretty up and down once he locked onto the jumps despite me really getting after him to go, and Mr Spanky worked pretty hard for the first part of the course. Once we got across the water, he was a little more forward, but we were still basically just loping along.
I trotted him to the ditch because it really was monstrous, and while Bobby has never even thought about stopping at a ditch, he has occasionally sauntered into them, so I wanted to make sure he really saw it. He jumped it with a peek as he went over, but no hesitation. Over the little roll top thing, and then I brought him back to the trot as we went downhill to the down bank.
Bobby came back to the trot....and then ambled into a walk, and then calmly halted at the lip of the bank before deciding he should >sigh< probably go down it >I guess< and stepping off. More aggressive riding was probably needed there, but downhill and down banks together are not a thing I love.
We jumped the final three fences without issue and finished with a clear round. We were so slow we ended up fifth, but at least we'd gotten a round in without issue, and I knew I had to really get his pace revved up for our go at Training.
Novice Helmet Cam
Sorry, there's minimal Carly input on this one. I was trying to keep a cap on the crazy. You get to see how much work Mr Spanky did though!
I walked the course with a group of girls from PA who were doing the same thing I was--Novice for warm up before our first go at Training which was nice because we all pointed out the specific spots we thought we were going to die. This T course was stout. It was definitely a big step up from what the N had been set as.
|upgrading to a new camera next year. you know, to one that actually focuses.|
We started with three stadium fences set on an S shape, then around to a massive fucking table, another stadium jump, a forward two stride between xc fences, and then up the bank this time. On the course map, the jump directly after the bank was described as "stacked rails". I figured that meant another stadium jump. No. It meant a maxed out skinny of stacked rails two strides after the bank.
I didn't expect the liverpool to give us any issues since it was set for a nice galloping stride, then a long stretch to the half coffin of palisade, one stride to the giant water ditch. You looped back around and came off a tight turn to another maxed out skinny with a downhill landing. This was the spot I picked for dying. The skinny was a roll top which is friendly enough, but the short approach, scary landing, and overall size made our entire group scamper past this jump really quickly.
|when in doubt, hunch into a small ball.|
Through the water which was super steep going into from this side, and then as we're walking the course, the designer brings the angled skinny vertical out of the water in even closer. She was like, "LOLZ, I can't wait to watch you guys jumps this one. It will be fun for me!"
A quick right turn to a vertical, and then a sharp roll back to the final fence finished the course.
Walking the course, the stadium jumps surprisingly gave me no pause. I ended up not thinking the height looked bad at all. The xc jumps, on the other hand, looked about ten times bigger than anything we'd ever jumped at N. I give major props to anyone that rides a pony or small horse cross country. I don't think I'd have the balls to approach some of this stuff if I wasn't on the back of a really tall beastie.
Warm up went really well again. I gave Bobby a good gallop before slowing him down a bit to go over the vertical a couple times. He picked his tootsies up to his chin and gave me a great jump each time. I was full of confidence going in for our first "Training" (I'm not going to call us a real Training pair until we've completed our first HT.).
|warm up cuteness.|
I got a good canter established right off the bat, kept it coming to the first fence which was set at N height, aaaand Mr Rubby Rails knocked the pole out. Kick on to the second which was a maxed out oxer aaaand another rail. I felt like he was jumping well out of stride, but this horse and boots, man. He has always used them as an excuse to feel his way over fences, which is why--before his leg injury--I never jumped him in them.
We cleared the third fence without issue, and then I gunned him to the table which he was a little wide eyed to on approach. I stayed in the back seat worried about a dirty stop, but Bobby safely got us over without fuss. Another rail at the next vertical, and then I forgot where I was going for a second and lost a little momentum coming into the double of xc jumps where we instead fit in three. Whoops.
|i swear these jumps looked enormous from the ground.|
I tried bringing Bobby back to a more collected canter coming up to the bank because he likes to launch himself from afar up them, and with that huge skinny right after it, that wasn't going to fly. However, I think the slow twist did it's job a little too well or Bobby was a little too in tune and he trotted instead. No big deal, I kicked him the second we got up and sent up a Hail Mary as I told him we really did have to jump the skinny.
Bless his cross country loving heart, he scrambled over with no complaints and galloped off looking for the next one. The liverpool jumped perfectly, and then to the half coffin where three people in a row before me had run into problems--one of them falling off. Bobby popped over the palisade, gave the ditch a look, and then launched over it. But he never wavered and he had moved on immediately upon landing.
|ain't nothing but a thing.|
I almost blew my turn to the dreaded skinny roll top trying not to get decapitated by a tree branch, and our approach was crooked and a little under powered. I asked Bobby to go though and he popped over it from super close, and again landed on the hunt.
|certified "oh shit" face.|
Through the water, over the angled skinny vertical, another rail at the same vertical we'd had the last one at, and then I was a good rider for once and didn't pull my horse's head around in air while anticipating the roll back. I gave him a nice long approach to the final jump and he cleared it with no rubs.
Being the first rider to finish the course up to that point, we got a hearty round of applause, and Bobby had a good prance back to the gate because he knew everyone was acknowledging him being the bravest, best pony britches in the whole entire world.
|bobby: pay no attention to j putting up the rail i knocked down. give me your applause, minions.|
me: please just walk so we don't get yelled at for trotting through the in gate.
There were only three people including me in the Training Rider division. One pulled up halfway and the other fell (the ditch claimed many casualties at all levels all day), so we won by default despite all our rails. I'm proud of our blue ribbon anyway. We finished a Training course, it felt totally doable thanks to my overly willing partner, and WE FINISHED A TRAINING COURSE.
|"i won these. they are mine. give them to me."|
Training Helmet Cam
The crazy came out in this one! Nothing makes me feel better than yelling words of encouragement to my horse in front of dozens of people like I should be committed.
Bobby got a gram of bute as a preventative measure when we got home, and his leg stayed wrapped, so fingers crossed that nothing pops up in the next few days. I'm just happy we were able to rebound at all after almost writing off this year. Thank you, Bobby Magee.