We had a super quick change after dressage. (Exactly an hour between our dressage time and our SJ time and XC ran right after SJ.) So I ran back to the trailer, parked May next to my trunk, swapped clothes, swapped tack, pulled my vest on and tossed my pinny holder over May’s withers. Then headed back out to the competition area.
Luckily, when I got there, there were a few horses ahead of me, so I had some time to chill and watch a couple of rounds. The first line walked as a standard 5 strides, but it was coming directly away from the gate and was the first line on course. Naturally, a lot of horses were either doing 6 or chipping for 5.5 strides.
There wasn’t a ton of time from jump 2 to the next line, so people who added or chipped in line 1 basically did the same thing in the second line… in fact, most people weren’t getting the strides until after the combination, when you just had just the two singles left.
When we were getting closer, I went and jumped a couple of fences. May felt GOOD, but if anything, a bit hot. The jump warm up was set up a bit weird with the jumps basically in the valley between two hills. So you canter down, jump the jump, then canter back up. So keeping May rocked back was a challenge.
I watched the last rider before me go and asked Mandy if I should just plan for the adds through the first 2 lines, since everyone was struggling. She looked at me like I had five heads. “Your plan should be to do the correct strides, but be prepared to support the add if she comes in a bit dead.”
I think we both weren’t sure what to expect. May was jumping GREAT in warm up, but at our last away show (pre-pandemic), May wasn’t covering the ground over fences. As a result, we really struggled getting any kind of distances at that show, and she just wanted to crawl over everything. I decided that I would just come in with more than I thought I needed and adjust from there.
I headed into the ring and gave myself plenty of space to get started, and I am glad I took it! I moved May into the canter, and she kind of gave me a blah canter. Soooo She got a tap with my crop. That woke her up!
I knew the challenge to the first line was going to be keeping the power coming from behind, while not losing the straightness. May loves to pop that right shoulder, and the gate was right there. So I rode pretty hard with my right leg, almost counter bending. This got us night and straight, and May flew ACROSS jump 1. Yes!
I kicked on, and in 5 strides, we were coming over jump 2. For some reason, she jumped kind of up and down over 3. I think maybe because of the judges tent right on that line? Not sure. BUT I REALLY HAD TO KICK to get 6. But hey! I was committed. We left… a little long. BUT in good balance.
She landed… gave me a FLYING CHANGE… and then promptly hit some wet sand and tripped. UGH. I picked her up and… just kept kicking. She marched right down the bending line in 7. I even got my left lead change over the fence, which is our harder one. Yay!
I really revved her engine coming down to the two strides. AND I AM GLAD I DID. Because she looked at that ugly pink and black gate at the in, and sucked WAY back. In the great theme of the SJ round… I just kept kicking. Funny how when you do that, things just work out.
At this point, we just had the two singles left, so I kind of needed her to just take a breath for me. She… didn’t really. She was kind of like THIS IS WHAT YOU ASKED FOR, SO THIS IS WHAT YOU GET over fence 8. But after fence 8, we turned left, instead of the right she was expecting, and she really softening. This let me REALLY rock her back for the last fence. Giving us a double clear SJ round!
I was THRILLED with how much better this round felt than our round at Covered Bridge back in March. We had a forward step (maybe a touch too much), we were covering the distances over fences, we got all our leads, and we were really square and straight to every fence.
We ended SJ in 3rd place. I immediately threw on my XC gear and trotted up to XC, as clouds were starting to roll in. Just as I made it to the XC warm up to check in… they put a hold on XC. UGH! I headed back down and hid in the indoor arena as the skies opened up. After about an hour of rain, thunder, and lightning, they canceled XC.
Not going to lie, a part of me was completely heartbroken. The course was totally within our capabilities, and after such a great SJ, I was super excited to gallop around the course. I knew May would have tackled everything with confidence (and flair). We didn’t need the XC, since it is our best phase, but it would’ve been REALLY fun.
Either way though, we finished 3rd out of 11 horses on our Dressage score of 33.3, giving us our best BN finish ever. We also came away with some homework, which is always nice to have.
While showing during a pandemic is not the same as pre-pandemic, it was still a great day and a great reminder of why I love this sport. (AND WOULD LOVE IT EVEN MORE WITH XC.)