After Dressage, we had about four and a half hours until SJ. With temps still in the 30’s and wind nearly whistling through the show grounds, I threw May’s back on track sheet on and put her back on the trailer with a hay bale for a bit, while the husband and I warmed up in my car. We eventually made the trek out to walk the course, check scores, and get our dressage tests.
I was a little nervous about SJ. We didn’t have the best SJ round at Team Challenge back in October, and our last jumping lessons was less than spectacular. The course also was a bit different for us. It involved a lot of overlapping tracks through a small ring, as you can see from the below diagram.
A couple of interesting things came up in the course walk. The first line walked in almost exactly 6.5, and there weren’t really any clever lines to take to shave off time without screwing up your line to the next fence. The two stride walked in a standard two, but you spent a lot of the course jumping towards the rail (jumps 2, 3, 5, and 8b). I made my goals the same as my last lesson, keep my leg on and just get straight to every fence.
We got tacked up, and I got to watch some of the Jr. BN rounds. Pretty much everyone was getting seven in the first line (interesting), but it seemed to be riding ok. My plan was to push for 6 regardless so that we don’t end up backwards to 2. BUT I also saw a TON of horses spooking at some gray fake stone walls sitting on the side of the arena. I made a mental note to trot past that point before starting my course (fun fact: May didn’t care). Last thought was that the jumps looked small. They definitely measured them, but I still think they looked closer to starter height than BN, oh well.
Warm up was again in a muddy field. I don’t know if the dirt is different at that barn (it is fairly close the river), but May was slipping quite a bit, which isn’t usually a problem. Coming to the oxer to the first time, she just kind of got sticky to the base. I kicked on and everything else in warm up rode fine.
When we got into the ring, I took a bit of a tour. I trotted back the big scary blocks (that May failed to even notice), and I picked up my canter… and it wasn’t our best canter. The RPMs were good, but she just wasn’t covering ground like she usually does. mmmmmmmk. We came around the corner to jump one, and she moved nicely in front of my leg, great!
Then… She jumped super HIGH and ROUND over the first jump instead of across it like she usually does… Uhhhh ok. That meant that we weren’t going to get the 6 and land in good enough balance to roll back to 3. The balance and turn to 3 was good, but she never really got her eye on it. She jumped it fine, and I sent her forward after that one.
Jump 4 she got her eye on and jumped great buuuut she didn’t totally give me the lead chance and we landed cross cantering. There really wasn’t time to come back to a trot and fix it, so I kicked on. I figured it was better to just keep the energy forward and let it work itself out.
She got her eye on 5 and she jumped it great (even fixed the lead) … buuuut then she never really got her eye on 6. You can kind of see us come around the corner, and she is looking towards the exit gate. But again, balance and rhythm were good, so we made the tight spot work and got the lead change.
We had a long approach to 7 so she DEFINITELY got her eye on that one. At this point, I am VERY much aware of the fact that I DO NOT have enough canter for the 2 stride. So I revved the engine a bit and made sure we got STRAIGHT to it. Turned into our best jumps all day. Then… panicked a bit to the last, taking the direct approach and pulling her off the counter canter. She jumped the last one great though.
ANNNNNNND we got our first Double Clear at BN! This brought us home a pretty white ribbon. This CT is fun because they do awards/ribbons right after the end of your division, so we got pics with our ponies and ribbons. Overall, my barn brought 7 horses to the event in levels ranging from baby starter to novice, and we have 7 clear SJ rounds. A pretty big win for the whole team!
I’m bummed that show season is now on a hiatus, but I am proud of our community for recognizing that we need to come together (or rather stay apart) to help stop the spread of this virus. Fingers crossed that when things settle back down, we will all be ready to hit the ground running again.