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Miles jumping cute at May Delaware

2015 May Delaware: Saturday

Horses are humbling creatures. Through my time as an equestrian, I’ve experienced both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. And just when I thought I’d gotten things figured out, my horse reminded me that he still have so much left to teach.

So far, my show season has not gone how I had hoped. I had dreams of coming out with a bang, picking up right where I left off last year. I had visions of blue ribbons, tricolors and the chance to be at the top when I rode well. Instead, I’ve found challenges at every turn and I’m struggling to make it around the ring. I thought that I’d gotten things sorted out at the end of the last show, but sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.

Warm-Up Ring May Delaware
Photo by Emily (The Exquisite Equine)

My second show of the season started off relatively unremarkable — schooling on Friday was fine. I only lunged Miles for about 15-20 minutes because he was so well-behaved. As it turned out, I probably shouldn’t have lunged him at all. He jumped everything quietly… too quietly really. It felt like I was galloping just to get the add-stride and the one time we attempted the numbers, it felt like the Kentucky Derby. So while I was happy that there were no theatrics, I let my disappointment over our lack of pace overshadow everything else.

Courtesy circle at May Delaware
Photo by Emily (The Exquisite Equine)

Saturday was a gorgeous day weather-wise and I spent a majority of the day cheering on my barnmates, all of whom did wonderfully. Emily from The Exquisite Equine came up to meet Miles and graciously hung around for over an hour until my division finally started around 3 pm. (P.S. Emily is absolutely wonderful, took awesome pictures and was so sweet to talk to. I can’t wait to meet her mare and get to chat some more!) Finally we headed to the warm-up ring where I proceeded to immediately let my brain fall out of my skull and roll around in the sand. I completely forgot how to ride and had one of the scariest jumps I’ve ever let happen.

We cantered up to a 2’6″ oxer and I didn’t see a distance. Then I did the worst thing you can do in that situation: absolutely nothing. So Miles left long and literally sliced the jump, nearly hitting the standard my Trainer was standing next to. Then he clipped the back pole with a hoof and almost face planted.

Long Spot at May Delaware
Proof I couldn’t even find a distance to a 2′ vertical on Saturday. Photo by Emily (The Exquisite Equine)

I walked over to the side of the ring and lost it. I started crying, feeling like a complete and total asshat (actually, I used a few much worst words to describe myself, but they’re not suitable to say out loud). I was not only riding poorly, but I was being dangerous; my horse absolutely doesn’t deserve that kind of ride, plus I was letting both him and my Trainer down. Let me tell you, that’s about the worst feeling in the world for me.

Miles works his ass off for me for 5-6 days a week. He conquers his fears for me, lets me lead him into situations he’s unsure of and takes care of me when I make mistakes and put him in difficult situations. In some ways, that’s job — I’m an amateur and I’m going to make mistakes. But I shouldn’t be making Miles’s job nearly impossible, which is what I did at that jump.

Miles jumps an Oxer at May Delaware
Proof that I can still sometimes ride. Photo by Emily (The Exquisite Equine)

After I calmed down, I just went straight into the ring for my two 2’6″ Intermediate Adult Hunter rounds. They weren’t pretty, but I didn’t have any completely disastrous jumps either. I still struggled with basic riding concepts like staying straight, keeping my leg on to ride forward, picking a distance and really doing very much of anything at all. And Miles told me he was displeased. A few times at the ends of the lines he “played”… except it wasn’t a ‘wee, I’m having fun’ it was a ‘I’m getting really sick of making all the decisions and carting you around’. Finally, finally by the time I went in for my two Low Thoroughbred Hunter rounds I remembered to ya know, do something.

Miles jumping cute at May Delaware
Photo by Emily (The Exquisite Equine)

The trips still weren’t great, and we definitely weren’t very competitive, but I was happy that I finally let go of my terrible riding and actually thought on course and made some choices. I had some bad jumps and bad lines, but I also had some good ones too. So if nothing else, I was able to end the day on a good note. Afterwards, Miles got the Olympic treatment for putting up with me and not hitting the eject button. He enjoyed cookies by the pound, a liniment bath, poultice, standing wraps and magic cushion. Thank goodness for tolerant ponies.


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

18 thoughts on “2015 May Delaware: Saturday

  1. What a sucky show! But you know what, you ARE capable of riding well and being successful. Give yourself some credit! So much of riding is figuring out how to get your head in the game, and you have to trust that you DO have the skills to get the job done. Mistakes happen, and when you can learn from them and move forward, you grow even more than when things are ‘perfect’. Do what it takes to feel confident about your next show, and I know you’ll have a much better experience. 🙂

  2. I’m so glad that you ended on a good note- that’s the important part! We all have those brain-falling-out-of-our-butts rides, but it sounds like you managed to rally and put in some good trips. Good for you! My trainer always tells me that it’s fine to go in and stink as long as you think and correct your next time through, and that’s exactly what you did!

  3. Sucky shows–there must be something in the water! I’m right there with you in the struggles. I’m not sure what the fix is, but I think vodka coolers play a role. I’m seriously considering putting on a western saddle and entering a fun qymkana show and tearing it up around a barrel pattern. Fun needs to happen this summer!

  4. Even though it sounds like you had a rough weekend your post sounds more positive then negative. That’s a good thing! Let the negative thoughts and feelings go. Your boy will forgive you. Take a deep breath and forgive yourself.

  5. sorry it was a rougher outing – but major kudos for getting out there and getting it done a little better each time! i also remain eternally grateful for my mare who can get the job done even when i’m lackluster – these horses really are saints 🙂

  6. Shows like this are so hard!! It’s one of those things, that you try so hard to think positive that when things don’t go as well, you feel like dirt. BUT, the biggest thing here is that you pulled yourself and your horse together, and you gave it your all. Some days you have more to give than others, but that’s why it’s a team sport–even if your team member is 4 legged. I still believe that even the harder shows strengthen the bonds between horse/rider because you overcome things together.

  7. Hey, ending on a good note is what’s important here! Don’t beat yourself up too much- everyone has off days, and Miles sounds like he’s a pretty forgiving guy. 🙂

  8. I had one of those moments at my last show myself. The awful “I’m ruining my horse and he doesn’t deserve this!” feeling. It’s important to keep things in perspective. The cookies and the attention are probably more important to him than anything else. Glad you were able to pull yourself together and ride better though, that’s probably more important for us than it is for the horse. It will get better, because you have the right attitude about it!

  9. Sometimes the best shows are the ones where you were able to pick yourself up and just get the job done, no matter what the results look like on paper. That’s generally how ALL my shows go. 😉 You guys will get it figured out. It’s still plenty early in the season!

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