Second show is in the books! And we have ribbons!!! You all know that I love my pony no matter what, but I will admit that coming home with some ribbons feels darn good. Here’s the recap:
Got there bright and early to walk my 0.90m course that would be running in the GP. We decided to use this as a warmup to see what kind of horse I’d have under me- always a well behaved horse, but energy levels do vary. Of course I showed up and Francis was lying down for a nap.
But that must’ve been super restorative, because homeboy was LIT. Between the warmup and then our 0.90m round, I was basically grabbing mane and steering at jumps while he jumped the course like it was 1.20m. I’m actually not joking, he was a full 2′ above the rails. I can tell, you think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.
This was definitely the most “up” Frankie has ever been and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Holy moly apparently someone told Francis that he’s supposed to be a big fiery jumper and he was like OK SURE SOUNDS GREAT and went for it.
I do think part of that is because the lighting in the GP ring is kinda weird early in the morning and the jumps are harder to see. So he jumped super big juuuust to make sure he cleared them.
Sadly we had one unlucky rail on the very last fence, which put us out of the ribbons (with about 30 people in the class, you really had to go clear for a ribbon). So we went and let Frankie take a break while I learned my next course for the first class of my Low division at 1.0m.
And he promptly decided to take another nap.
Our Low class was a liiiittle less ON FIRE, but still definitely powering around. Pics:
We had one rail in this class, but we were fast enough to earn our very first ribbon together!!!!
So overall, Friday was a blast. We got to go in the big Grand Prix ring, my horse was ON IT, and we earned our first ribbon as a team in our division.
Saturday we just had a single power and speed class. Course here:
I gotta say, I really liked this course. Very straightforward when you break it down- outside line, diagonal line, bending line, outside line, around the end, rollback, across the middle, around the end. To anyone who wonders how to remember jumper courses- this is how. Your related options will always be an outside line, broken line, diagonal line, or something like that. Your unrelateds will be rollbacks, S-turns, or end jumps. That basic concept is to get from one end of the ring to the other a couple times using these combinations. Becomes a lot easier to remember when you think about it this way.
I digress. I could write a whole post about remembering jumper courses.
This was definitely our best course of the weekend. Frankie had settled down a little bit and was listening better- not that he wasn’t listening on Friday, but he felt much more responsive to my aids on Saturday. We tend to struggle with related distances- life is hard when you have a 14′ stride- but he sat back for me (most of the time) and waited to fit it in.
And for the very first time together, we made it to the speed round!!! We had one single rail in that phase because I let him get a little flat and up on it, but I was literally fist pumping as I left the ring. Because we made it to the jump off. I’m grinning just thinking about it. Here’s some pics:
I was really pleased because combos were something we struggled with at Loudoun. Not that he didn’t like them or struggled to get out, but I didn’t support enough with my leg and they were a little messy. So to be able to ride in strongly and then ride out strongly almost every time was a big improvement that I was very happy with. It was something I was focusing on doing better, and we did better. Boom.
This lovely course got us another ribbon! In a different color!
Just the one course on Saturday, then hanging out with the gang and cheering on our superstar junior.
Francis was definitely more tired by the time we reached Sunday. We had a good warmup, but he was taking much more leg than usual and needed more support from me. Our first class was another power and speed:
Nothing crazy here. I really didn’t like where jump 5 was set because it forced you super deep in that corner of the ring and there wasn’t any way to get from 4 to 5 except touring around the whoooole end of the ring. Not the best course design for a jumper class. We did end up having a rail or two because I wasn’t as present with my leg as I needed to be, so I elected to take a wider turn off the combo at 6a-b around to 7- I had originally planned to go inside the end jump and shave some time off. But with two rails down, I decided to play it safe and try for clear the rest of the power phase since I wouldn’t make it to the speed.
I’m glad I made this choice, because it got us another 5th! I’m just glad that I’m finally getting to the point where I can ACTUALLY MAKE DECISIONS ON COURSE INSTEAD OF JUST POINTING MY HORSE AT JUMPS AND HOPING FOR THE BEST.
Even though I still do that a lot.
We had about an hour break before the last class of our division, the speed round:
Another fairly straightforward course. Annnnd we went and read Braille around it. Again, I needed to be much more present and supportive than I was, since Francis was getting tired. I’m used to him kinda pulling me to the jumps, and this time I really had to push him up. It’s a matter of me adjusting more quickly to the horse I’m on in that moment instead of assuming he’s the same day-to-day.
Enough to get us 8th though! There weren’t a lot of clear rounds.
I can’t tell which pics are from which course, so here’s some Sunday pics:
So overall we won a ribbon in every class of our division! They may not be primary colors yet, but it was an IMMENSE improvement over our first show at Loudoun.
Side note: you may have noticed that I’m wearing my coat on both Saturday and Sunday. “But Olivia, I thought you loved that you don’t have to dress up as much for the jumpers?!” Why yes, you are correct. But Trainer said that a lot of the serious people tend to dress for their division classes, to which I responded, “I’d like to pretend to be serious.” We always joke that with looks you’re halfway there, but I think there’s a lot of truth to it. I may not be winning my division (yet), but I can go in there looking like I give a damn. Because I do.
Coming out of the ring from my last class, my trainer told me that she wasn’t worried about me anymore. That now she knows I can make it around the ring, and we can focus on fine-tuning and addressing some of the finer points. We’re not just discussing how to get from point A to point B, we’re talking about the inside turns and where we can shave off time. She told me it was “leaps and bounds” from where we were two months ago (no pun intended). And she mentioned that next year the plan is to do the Highs. So clearly she thinks it’s something we’ll be capable of when the time comes.
I also can’t end this post without giving a HUGE shoutout to both of my trainers. They kept us all organized, made sure we were where we needed to be when we needed to be there, and pushed and encouraged us all weekend long. The last thing Trainer said every single time I walked in the ring was, “Go have fun.” They truly worked their tails off to make sure we were equipped to go out there and answer the questions that the courses asked of us.
I couldn’t be happier or prouder of my boy- he was a true gentleman all weekend and gave me everything I asked for. Despite this being only his second show, he was the definition of a packer! He trailered there and back without a fuss, settled into his stall, took naps, got baths, jumped the jumps in several rings, went for walks, grazed, and did everything I asked with zero fuss.
Soooo I know that I said I can’t afford to show at the end of September. And it’s not so much that I lied. Buuuuut. I gotta. I just gotta. I’ll be talking to Trainer tomorrow about figuring out a way to get there. I’d love to make it out one last time before we go on hiatus for the winter. My bank account is sweating nervously.
This has been a monster post, so congrats for making it to the end! Short version: huge improvement over our first show, Francis continues to be the absolute coolest, and I love horse shows.