My friend Dana and I were talking over good ol' BBM this week, trying to organize a day to go cross country schooling before the planned event this weekend. With all the rain we had this spring, no facilities are open for schooling. I built a few cross country fences so far this year but there are only a handful. Then I remembered there are some farms in the area doing a short course event series, where you do a dressage test, and a combined stadium and cross country round. Dana contacted one of the farms and it just so turned out they were having one on Sunday. They are catered towards people entering the eventing world in our area with friendly divisions of 18, 2'0", and 2'6". We post entered that day. What a perfect outing the weekend before both of our first events (ever) on our horses. Local, and low key, with a bit of each phase. I thought it would be a good prep and second show for Archie.
Thursday and Friday night I had a really great school. Our friend Chris came over and brought her baby that she is currently showing training level dressage. Chris and I evented together for years and she is thinking about taking her mare to the local low key hunter show series which I did last weekend (cross rails). She brought her mare to introduce her to some new and different jumps. We had a great schooling and with the all the sun we had last week we are able to sneak out and jump my new cross country jumps! Most are under 2'9" but perfect for schooling babies and greenies. I had such a great ride, Archie was jumping really well and it seems for now the balking and issues have been worked through.
After having such a great ride Friday and I was psyched for our show on Sunday. I attended (groom/slave) my moms dressage lesson on Saturday morning, then went home to ride, bathe, braid, and prep for our outing on Sunday. I messaged Dana to see how things were coming along at her place...then I got the message. "Call me, I have bad news". I called her right away and her husband answered. Dana got bucked off coming back from her hack, and hit the ground pretty hard. She had a concussion and some major bruising on her back, but overall she is O.K. and will be fine. She doesn't remember what happened, but is obviously very upset about the incident, and more so that her doctor told her to stay out of the saddle for a few weeks (is she nuts?).
|Roo (Mom's Coachs Aussi)|
I really wasn't that upset about scratching from the show, I was more worried about Dana and hoping she wouldn't be feeling discouraged. Her texts the next day would convince me otherwise, and she is not giving up so easy. My mom told me she heard there was a hunter/jumper show on Sunday not far from our house, just a schooling show that I could probably enter that day. I looked up the series online and sure enough there was. There was a low jumper division with 2'3", 2'6", and 2'9" I could enter. I decided I would drive over in the morning before my moms lesson and see if I could post enter. I did just that and they let me in no problem. Alright, we were going to do some jumper classes! A good schooling option before our first event. This would be Archies' second show, and first real course over anything other than cross rails (except at home where we have natural poles and standards lol). I won't lie, I was kind of nervous.
|Ace and mum in her lesson (see bicycle jump behind :))|
I was even more nervous when we arrived at the show grounds Sunday afternoon and saw the course. This was supposed to be a schooling show but it was probably the scariest 2'3" course I have ever seen. There were hay bales, coops, gates, walls, blocks, not to mention; bending lines, in and outs, and roll backs. The fences were maxed out. I know my horse can jump, but was he confident enough for all THIS? There was no turning back. I paid the entry fee, I trailered all the way there, and I squeezed into my white full seat breeches to the point where I couldn't feel my legs. We are going in the ring, and we are going to get around, and have fun while we are it damn it!
I can't really explain what happened after that. My horse went into the ring, I saluted the judge, established a good canter (nice and in front of my leg), and proceeded to be a mere jockey on a horse who seemed to take me over each and every fence, and around every turn, bending line, and combination like he had been doing it his whole life. I enjoyed every stride. Every approach, every landing, and especially, every jump. We had a clear round. I left the ring and looked at my mom, "who is this horse?!?!!" "Amazing!", she said. Good boy Archie! It was a really happy, gratifying moment in my riding career. This horse is finally, ready to go eventing. The class was judged on optimum time, (which was not given..why I don't know? As an eventer I find it easier to reach the optimum time when I know what speed is expected lol) and we placed 4th out of about 10 riders. Mostly people who show on the circuit regularly. Whoo hoo!! We weren't going for ribbons but man, was I stoked!
Our second class was the 2'6" Table A with a jump off. Archie jumped another brilliant clear round and we did our immediate jump off. Normally, the more jumping we do, the more go-y Archie gets and this is sometimes when he starts to suck back and just stop moving entirely. I was a bit worried but just told myself to sit quiet, keep my leg supportive, my hands low and steady and he will be great. We jumped another beautiful clear round, enough to place us third in the class! What a success! What a relief at the same time. I am so proud of my horse. He really tried his heart out and showed what an honest, brave guy he really is. He just needed someone to take the time to figure him out, and sort themselves out too. We are finally working as a team. It has taken me 4 years of building foundations to get to this point, and I am so happy we have finally made it. I knew taking the long correct road would be worth it in the end, and now it seems I have a brilliant, rideable horse who is happy and enjoying his job.
The countdown has begun, only 6 days until Archies' eventing debut. 4 long years to get here. I think we are finally ready.
Videos from the show to come!