Unless otherwise noted, all riding photos in this post are courtesy of Xpress Foto.
So after Dressage, we had a bit of time to sit, wear a mask, get changed, and then get all my tack swapped out. My super groom even wiped down my saddle for me because she is amazing. After a bit though, we were ready to head to stadium. As I walked down, I knew I was a bit early (always am), but I also realized that the only time I walked the course was when it was set for Prelim (with a total of 3 combinations)
Oops… so I wanted to watch a couple of rounds before going in. Now, it is worth nothing that the jumps at the Hoosier Horse Park are PVC jumps, not wood. So everything is light and shiny. This… is not a BN eventer’s friend. So a lot of people were having difficulty. On top of that, the course was set in a way that didn’t have the worlds most wonderful flow over the first couple of fences.
Soooo as I watched people ride… there were poles everywhere. I saw more than one person eliminated and a couple fall off. I saw the bending line from 3 – 4 ride in everything from 4 – 7 strides (it walked in 5). Annnd I started to doubt. Maybe I should hold and stay out for 6 there. Maybe I need to think about jumping across 5 to get a better line to the combination etc etc etc.
Luckily, Mandy made it out to my warm up with just enough time to get me over a couple of fences and discuss my game plan. (Shout out to her because she literally had a million riders and horses going on at once in all levels from Starter – Prelim and still managed to keep me from vomiting off the side of my horse.) She practically rolled her eyes at me and told me to just establish my canter and maintain it. That the 5 stride would be totally fine for me, and May will easily make the distance in the 2 strides.
So my plan was to take a loop just outside the combination to get to jump 1. Soften her a bit to jump 2 (hah). Check in A LOT on that right bend coming around to jump 3. Bend the line in 5 to jump 4. Check in AGAIN on that right bend before straightening to jump 5. Continue to keep the counter bend through the turn to the combination… and then kick. Make sure to get really square to jump 7. Then just keep the balance up and forward to the two verticals at the end.
As mentioned, the poles were PVC, so I knew they would come down easy. Buuuut honestly, I tried not to think about it as I went in the arena. I made sure May got a look at the jump crew sitting in the middle (not that she would care), and we looped around the combination to start our course!
She jumped the SNOT out of Jump 1. I am so sad I didn’t get a pro pic of it, but I did get a great screenshot!
Then… I promptly forgot about Jump 2, so I ended up pulling her around a bit to it. Luckily, my brain was working well enough to straighten us out though, so it ended up jumping super.
We then had a left turn to the bending line. I knew that I HAD to control that right shoulder, and I did! We jumped in GREAT, so the 5 was actually wildly easy and May flew over the red and orange oxer. I managed to convince her that she did need to turn right after that oxer, and she stayed nice and soft to the brown vertical.
I then promptly pulled her off her right lead and into a counter canter. Given the straight turn to the combination (kind of in the middle of nowhere) and our super rhythm up until that point, I decided to just maintain the rhythm and not worry about the lead. It was the right call, and we skipped right through the combination.
At this point, I went “Oh G-d, we could go clear.” This is… usually the kiss of death for my rides. So I SHOVED that feeling WAY DOWN LOW, and I concentrated on again riding that outside shoulder around to the blue oxer. Now the last two jumps were verticals. The red and white jump was going towards the barns, and she went to take me a bit there… but I managed. Then she just… ran at the last fence. I think she needed me to soften for a minute longer after the red jump, but she was OVER IT by the last fence. Luckily, it was a fairly solid looking panel jump, and she didn’t touch it.
And thus… we finished our first double clear BN show jumping round at a recognized event!
I didn’t realize how much a feat this was until scores rolled in. There were 14 people in my section of BN. Only 7 people went clear and 1 person was eliminated. As a result, we moved up one spot to third, and we set our sights on tackling the XC course the next day!