You know, those days where you’re in a pretty good mood and nothing completely disastrous happens, but you banged your elbow on a door knob early in the morning and crap like that just kept happening? Yeah … that happened on horse show day for me. The good news is Eli has been beatified and is well on his way to sainthood. The bad news is I left 3/4ths of my brain in my coffeemaker.
I’ll just do this chronologically. First, as I was packing my car in the dark at 5 AM, my groom box tipped over, fell out of the back of my car, and spilled all over my driveway. BAH. Moving on.
I get to the show, and Eli is in a stall already, so I get him out to longe, as we typically do on a show morning before schooling in the open rings before classes start (at least, it’s what we did for the other two shows we’ve done). We weren’t out there two minutes longeing before he slipped behind and fell. My mind raced something like this as I saw the look of utter bewilderment on my horse’s face: OH CRAP I BROKE MY HORSE THERE GOES THE SHOW HE’S GOING TO BE SO LAME I HOPE HE DOESN’T DIE OH CRAP OH CRAP OH CRAP. What I did was watch Eli get back up and walk over to me and I decided NO MORE loneging at shows ever, walked him back to the stalls and got him cleaned up.
Well, soldier on, we did. After I got Eli cleaned up and slathered goop on him, I ignored my emotions and let reason have a chance. I’ll tack him up, and see how he feels in the main ring.
Turns out, he felt fine. He also handled the environment extremely well–I think he “gets” the routine at this venue now and once we were inside the ring he looked at nothing and trotted around completely sound, and even cantered around softly just like at home. My trainer came out and we discussed the fall, and how Eli felt, and decided to take a few jumps, and made a plan for keeping him comfortable during the day. He jumped just fine, and I cleaned him up again and planned to keep him moving periodically until our classes with hand-walking, grazing, and opening the run for the stall he was in, as well as giving as much hay as he wanted to eat.
Okay, so maybe today won’t be so bad. For Eli, it wasn’t. He has earned rockstar status in my book. We entered the open jumper division, which tops out at 3’3″. There were only 4 in the division, so I will preface the course recaps with the fact that the placings meant nothing.
The first class actually wasn’t too bad, except for a MAJOR mistake on my part that resulted in a rail (thankfully that’s all it was).
Thanks for filming, Stacy, Jenny, and Anton! So …. yeah. I make decisions about distances WAY TOO LATE. The red oxers line was either a tight six or a long 5, which meant it could have been and easy 5 for Eli, and on stride 4, I thought maybe we should do the 6, which resulted in 5 1/2 strides and a rail. BAD RIDER. Thank you, horse! The rest of the course I’m actually okay with. Not great riding on my part, but Eli did extremely well in spite of my mental fugue.
Unfortunately, my mental fugue continued in the second and third courses. They are up on my Vimeo if you want to watch–I can’t bring myself to post them here. Lots more of 50-50 riding on my part, and 100% efforts on Eli’s part. Plenty of chippy distances, and the big miss in the second course was that I missed a turn–one of the few rollbacks of the day, this one to the in-and-out. I needed more outside rein and lots more outside leg, but all I did was pull on the inside rein. Again, I know better. Again, Eli did nothing wrong. I came out of the arena laughing at myself and said “that was gross” to my trainer. On to the next.
The third course showed a little promise early on–sure, a few misses (HATE YOU, skinny fence) but nothing overly drastic (arguably), and we NAILED the red oxers line in 5 easy strides.
But the mental fugue came roaring back as I just kind of casually cantered past our next line. Whoops. WTF, self. First time off course at a show in basically ever (in jumpers–been off course in hunters kind of a lot). I had even just told my trainer the course before going in the ring. Ugh. I came back around and we finished the course, but to say I was having an “off” day might be the understatement of the year. Eli gave me everything he had and showed a high level of maturity and focus in the ring, so I am giddily happy about that. He WANTS to do this. I just need to show up for the party next time! Our next show is on October 3 and at a new venue for Eli. We’ll skip the longeing, though.
Eli got a liniment bath after the show back at home, and a few days off. The strawberry on his stifle seems to be healing up quickly.
I need to remind myself of a few things here–this was our third show, our second show at this height, and our first show to complete this division. The day was not without some success. Plus, my outfit, right? And Eli’s bonnet! So cute.
In addition to Eli’s heroism, I got a nice warm fuzzy feeling when Stacy and Amanda came out to watch my classes. Having the support of friends, even when I’m riding like a dumb ass over half the time, is priceless!