Sunday started earlier than Saturday for me and Eli. I got to the show grounds around 7:45am, in time to walk courses before the jumpers got started. We entered two open jumper classes–a power & speed and a time 1st round (they just post the classes that way for CTHJA shows and not from the tables in the USEF/USHJA jumper rules, but I think the tables are noted in the prize list). I didn’t even try to learn the time 1st round class because it looked straight forward whereas the power & speed, like many power & speed classes, looked confusing AF. I had not done a power & speed class since 2006 or earlier, and if I had any strategies then for remembering a longer course like that, I couldn’t think of them now.
Please note the power phase finish line is prior to fence 7, the last fence in the power phase, but the speed start is directly after fence 7, so … yeah, I don’t know either. This was fixed before the classes started, though, although I did not get a picture of the new course map with the adjusted start/finish. The two 3s & 12s are actually 3a & b and 12a & b, just to clarify.
I spent a lot of time working on remembering the whole course, tacked up, and walked Eli around a while before really warming up. The air had a chill in it and I wanted to give him plenty of time to move around slowly at first if he came out at all stiff. (I wore a show shirt this time, but didn’t take off my sweater!) He felt completely settled in the environment now, enough so that I briefly considered a spur, but knowing how he lights up more in the show arena I figured I could do without. According to substitute trainer, he jumped beautifully in the warm up–and it felt like it–and we were ready to go.
Fence 1 was a not-insignificant oxer next to the judge’s stand, jumping toward bleachers and to get to it meant weaving around fence 8–there was not a truly straight line to the first fence.
So what do I do? Ride casual. Did that work? No, it did not. Here is the conversation Eli & I had in just seconds as we approached the first fence:
Eli (hears whistle): We go!
Karen: Yep, here we go. Wow, you’re cantering really soft, I like it. Hey, no, not the vertical, though.
Eli: Where, then? Oh, there? But that big box with people. And flapping pink things. Cookie lady …
Karen: No, it’s fine, here’s some leg, see? Oh, I see the gap, though …
Eli: But you never … wait, what!?!?
Eli & Karen, simultaneously (horse and rider park it practically on top of the fence): Fuuhh, this is awkward.
I quickly remembered the rule about not presenting your horse the fence and came right back to it and got across. But let’s dwell on this a minute. This is the second time ever in the history of me riding Eli that Eli has stopped. He doesn’t really have a stop in him, and I could tell I really confused him with that ride and he was stunned. I gave him a super inappropriate ride to a fence that needed a strong, confident ride, not a lopey, casual ride. I had a moment of stupidity on my part, and my horse paid for it. Fortunately, we bounced right back, took advantage of a moment of athletic amnesia, and flew over it on the second approach–but not without a hard look from Eli–and continued on to fence 2, then to the combination, all of which Eli took easily. After the combination, I remembered I would need to stop after the last fence of the power phase and I was trying to remember which fence that was and then I blew right by fence 4. My athletic amnesia went a little too far. I think I probably could have circled back to fence 4 and continued, because it’s the local circuit, but I didn’t do that. I went past fence 4 and either way got buzzed out, however you want to look at it, since I guess it could have been considered a run-out or I would have had to circle in either case it’s elimination in light of our stop at fence 1. Oops. (I do really like the 2 “disobediences” and out rule, though–that 3 used to be allowed a long time ago drove me nuts because of how much more time it could waste.)
I have the video of it, in case you’d like to judge for yourself just what happened:
We had one more class a few trips away. I decided to go for conservative and effective and didn’t worry so much about the speed factor. I wanted a clean round that both Eli and I could feel good about.
And we got it! Eli jumped fantastically in our last class and I couldn’t have been happier with his performance. The judge complimented our effort and this experience boosted our confidence greatly. We of course were not the fastest, but I think after this weekend we can look at riding for the time element, as well, in speed classes and jump offs. Eli definitely has exhibited a strong desire to go for it; a true jumper attitude has developed in him. Now I need to get my mental game in gear and concentrate a little better while in the ring.
Again, I have video of the world’s slowest speed round, courtesy of JK Videography:
So Eli was obviously a different horse Sunday, but that’s Eli. He is NOT the same horse every day. He napped after classes on Sunday before heading home, and I just felt so thankful to have such an incredible horse, and I am still in disbelief when I think about all the factors that had to add up for me to be his owner.
Our next show will be in early June, and I think it’s time to start watching the clock!