Over the weekend Miles and I attended our last show of the season. I can’t believe that it’s the end of September already and that summer is really over. Here in Fly Over Country it seems like the leaves changed colors overnight and that the temperatures have dropped already — where did the time go?! Luckily, the weather held out for us and stayed pleasantly warm and dry for the three-day show. Miles hauled up to the show grounds Friday morning and I met him there in the afternoon. This venue breaks up classes a bit differently: professional hunters show Friday morning, followed by Jumpers Friday afternoon into Saturday morning. Then Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday is reserved for Junior and Adult hunters.
While this schedule works out great for being able to watch all my friends show, it also means we didn’t get to school any of the jumps on Friday. That always makes me a little extra nervous and since this was our first time at this particular venue this year [Miles and I both showed at Equivents last year] I was extra nervous. Our plan going into the show was for me to continue to gain experience at 2’6″ and stick with the slower, add-stride pace. That’s where I’m most comfortable, and having positive experiences is what I need to build my confidence.
Our schooling round was just okay; Miles was a little hesitant over a few of the jumps, but I kept my leg on and my eye up and he went over them just fine. I tried to “whoa” early in the lines instead of waiting until the last few to cram them all in, and I felt like I was mostly successful at this, although we did chip in to fence #2. I was mostly just really nervous in this round and it showed. But considering I didn’t get to school any of the jumps and that this was my first time over fences in this particular ring, I was really pleased with my ride.
In our first judged trip my best fence was fence #1 — I really focused on generating energy early and asking for a slightly longer spot to the first jump to help set the tone for the entire trip. It definitely worked, and we almost were too fast into the first line of jumps, but I stretched up and fit all my strides in. What I liked about this round was that I improved — I took a breath, relaxed and made decisions much earlier. When I got a deeper, closer spot I knew to “gallop on” and found good distances to the next jump.
Our third and final trip of the day was definitely my best one. I got just a little left behind at the first fence, but after that Miles and I were on the same page. I steadied up early in my lines to get great distances over the oxers and I galloped in the corner to get my lead change. Overall I felt like this was the round where everything finally fit together and we just flowed really nicely. I thought and made decisions on course, kept my leg on and my eye up and it produced a really nice hunter round. We were rewarded for our effort with a 6th place for this round, out of a competitive field of 10. I was super stoked, as I didn’t expect to be competitive whatsoever, especially doing the add-stride in such excellent company!
Overall I went home after day one feeling really accomplished. I came, I saw and I conquered! I showed over fences without schooling in a new to me arena and no disasters occurred; Miles listened, doing everything I asked and was a perfect gentleman the entire day. I got some great experience over the bigger fences and finally feel relaxed and comfortable with my decision to move up. 2’6″ isn’t terrifying and doesn’t look all that big to me any more — which is kind of crazy in and of itself!