So last Saturday rolled around and myself and two good friends were heading to our first and last jump show of the season: The Martin's Courses and Candy Halloween Fun Show.
I, in all my craziness, invited a certain gentleman of the non-horsey type to come cheer us on, and H invited her cousin and another friend as well. So there was a small ensemble of us headed out to the show, which was set to be an interesting adventure if nothing else. H hadn't had much time for jumping this year, H3 hadn't really jumped ever with her boy, and I was...a nervous wreck despite having the most time in the saddle this year.
The day, despite weather forecasts, was overcast, windy and COLD. Children shivered from their saddles, the ponies whipped around the ring and most of us had more than one layer on. Brr. The audience was frozen.
Mr. Moon started his warm-up just fine, and then lost his mind. Gawd-bless his little heart. My gentleman kept calling him a 'scamp', which I think is much too kind of a term...he was a brat.
He SCREAMED constantly, mainly when he wasn't allowed to either A) Run around like an idiot or B) Hang out with his best-bud, The Black (who you'll recall, was the one he was chased incessantly by when he moved to H's, and now loves...horses).
He refused to stand still, he fidgeted, threw his head about, did his classic evil rabbit face and stormed at jumps like we were doing x-country and not a little jumper round of x-rails. Oye.
I finally took him over to the side and just worked the Dressage snot out of him. Leg yielding, turn-on-the-fore, serpentines. Over and over, asking and demanding he yield and pay attention. I gotta say, he moves beautifully when he's stoked like that. And my experience this summer in the show ring has taught me that he is NOT the type of horse that you warm up and then let relax. When he's at a show, you need to work him CONSTANTLY and he'll perform better and better, while still being hyped. My boy has energy.
We did the x-rails without issue and I was pretty proud. Neat and tidy, a little waver here and there but he was willing and happy to boot around the course. Even went through it at a nice canter approach at times, did a 2-stride and can't really complain. He was a good boy.
They upped the rails to somewhere in the 2'3 range with some oxers and the 2-stride, and then placed fillers under the jumps.
Mr. Moon headed in just fine, I loved his canter off the first jump, nice hunter line around to the 2nd fence, we wavered a touch going into the 3rd and I was a little off-balance into that oxer. Not bad, held it together but didn't feel stable on my feet. Over to the larger candy-cane jump and he approached eagerly and jumped cleaned. But came off with a LOT of momentum to jumps 5 and 6, the 2-stride (or maybe 1 from a canter).
It was the first jump with an interesting filler. And I was STARING at it. I was. Thinking "Oh gawd! This is new!"...
And Mr. Moon deeked right, leaving me on his neck. Yeah...
We can say embarrassing. I was just praying that the gent couldn't see very well through the thick tree in front of the jump. "Oooh, look at me! I'm a jumper. Not. : P"
Found my stirrup, circled and reproached. Took a little incentive with my legs and staying true, but we got cleanly over 5 and 6 and carried through the turn towards 7.
#7 I thought would be easy. I mean, it was a simple vertical with some natural spruce greenery under it. It was brown. Natural. Normal. Easy-peasy.
And Moon stopped. Literally just slowly came to a stop.
Came around again, drove him to it, and he died under my legs. "Nuh-uh" he said, clearly not so sure about that greenery.
Technically that would DQ me, but it was a fun show. So I rode over to H who was waving her stick at me (yes, yes, I know. But I always believe I won't need it), and I gave him two good smacks up to the jump. *Pop* we went over it, and carried on in a haggard manner towards #8. A plank.
Over that with a little incentive, and as we rounded the corner towards home, Mr. Moon exploded in a gallop down the ring.
Scamp? Naw, Cow-pony.
We did the course twice more, with equally questionable skill. Every time Moon hesitated and I pushed him to a jump, he popped over it, I was left unbalanced, and the next jump came to fast for me to feel rebalanced. Needless to say, it was sloppy and messy, and not what I'd hoped for.
We still had refusals to the greenery, though with the crop by the end I could just force him up to and over it. I never hit the ground, Moon stayed reasonably clean, and willing for a horse who was brand new to this type of jumping.
And he did a lot of nice cantering for me too. ; )
Was I proud? Dang straight I was proud. It wasn't as awesome and I didn't look as amazing as I had dreamt (ha, we never do), and my form was nothing compared to the arena at home, but I was incredibly proud that we got to do it together, we did it with good friends, and we did it safely and without injury.
The whole experience really showed me just how well I know and understand my horse at this point, and exemplified where we can go together if we keep working at it.
Of course, the experience also showed me that me and my horse are a mess when stressed, that I need way more saddle time and training when it comes to jumpers, and I need to create some fill for the jumps at home!
When we finally dismounted, I was shaking. My legs were so weak, I nearly fell into the trailer when trying to make the step up. Wow, does this ever take a lot out of you!
We all had some warm drinks and a donut, packed up the ponies in their pretty coolers and then headed back for home, happy and content about how our day went. What an adventure for sure!