Day two of the show was decidedly more eventful for me. The classes moved quickly and despite the fact that I was in the last division of the day, I found myself in the saddle around noon. The under saddle class was schedule to go first, before the over fence classes [which I absolutely hate], so I waffled a bit before getting ready, then promptly panicked because I thought I was late, but of course ended up in the warm-up ring with plenty of time. Phew! I opted to wear spurs for the flat, and took my time warming up, adding in some hand gallop in an attempt to wake Miles up who was rather sleepy. My goal for the class was to get Miles to really move out at the trot and work over his back, as well as not break at the canter. I find under saddle classes to be particularly challenging sometimes because I want my horse to stay consistent, so when I find a pace I like I just sit there and do nothing, which in turn leads to mistakes. Miles was great, and we accomplished all of our goals. We didn’t place, but that’s fine. Some judges are going to like Miles and some just aren’t. I’m just happy to have good rides and show my horse off to the best of my ability.
Our warm-up round on Sunday was… not pretty. I tried to do exactly what I did the day before: generate pace early and “whoa” early in the lines. Except I found myself with even less horse than the day before so my pace was more of a lope than an actual canter, which caused us to miss our lead changes and my “whoa” turned into awkward distances that left a lot to be desired. This course was exactly the opposite of the day before; it just didn’t flow at all. What surprised me was Trainer’s reaction. I hear her say exactly what I thought: “you just didn’t have enough horse,” but what I expected to follow was her mantra of add more leg. etc. etc. and instead I got: “You need to go in there and gallop for the strides.”
I told her I would try, but that it might not work and it probably wouldn’t be pretty. I mean, I’ve been purposefully doing the add-stride ever since I moved up to the 2’6″ division in July for a reason — I’m more comfortable at the slower pace, I see my distances better and therefore I ride better. I don’t have a good sense for what my pace should feel like for the regular striding… and I second-guess my take-off spots. But what Trainer says, goes, so I went in and tried my best to gallop. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t pretty, but I did it! In most of my lines I got in too close to jump one and couldn’t quite gallop enough to the second fence, which left me taking a long spot over the oxers. But Miles was a superstar and did it all!
So… yeah. It’s ugly and I’m basically just a steering sack of potatoes up there, but we did it! And Miles is a saint. He had ever right to refuse the last fence because of how poorly I set him up for it [and the thought crossed my mind .001 seconds before he left the ground], but he didn’t. He was an absolute saint and carried me around the course! He got so many pats for that!!
Our second round was marginally better, but I still had the same problem: getting too close to the first jump of each line and trying to gallop out, resulting in long spots to the oxers. But Miles was still fantastic and packed me around. I never thought I’d be doing the horse strides this year… but it was the right time, and I’m proud of myself for stepping up, being brave and going for it, even if the end results wasn’t pretty.