Area III Champs at Chatt Hills – Stadium

Well, you already know how this one ends: no ribbons and a big pretty RF on my record. Falling in stadium was definitely a disappointing way to finish the weekend but it didn’t take away from all the fun (and it was an incredibly fun weekend).

Nor does it take away just how awesome Gus was jumping. By far and away, it was our best stadium round to date (minus the fall of course) and I really do think we’re ready to up the height and the technicality. Our pace stayed steady, Gus was taking me to the fences instead of always waiting for me to tell him to go, and we were both making decisions instead of hoping for the best. It’s just unfortunate that I had some bad luck.

So what happened is this: we came off a long sweeping corner to big vertical and I knew right away that we weren’t going to have a good distance. Maybe the right decision would have been to push more forward but I was worried about getting flat and bringing the rail down. Instead, I asked Gus to give me a long spot. And he did. Gus has never jumped like he did over that fence, cracking his back and sending me flying out of the saddle. I might have been able to hold on except Gus also twisted in mid air and there was no horse to come down on to. I slid right off his side like I was doing an emergency dismount. My feet landed then I fell backward onto my butt before I just flopped down in the sand.

It felt like forever that I lay on that ground but it wasn’t even a few seconds. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe I had come off. But I jumped up and went to Gus, who was standing just a few feet away. This was not his fault, just bad luck.

But we both came out of it mostly unscathed. I did get a pretty nasty bruise on my leg, yanked my right shoulder muscles something awful, and probably had a minor concussion from something hitting me on the forehead (?!?) but nothing major. Gus didn’t even get a scratch. He got to enjoy a few well deserved days off while I downed Advil and tried to get through my work. I’ll trade with him any day!

 

Sporting Days HT April 2017 Stadium

You all know that I deal with confidence issues and you all know that lately those issues have reared their ugly head again. When I first started riding with super trainer, LT, I told her that I had some past issues that I needed to work through. She told me she couldn’t tell. Well, that’s because I was riding tough. I knew I needed to.

And then, something happened at the clinic and I stopped riding tough. I couldn’t tell you what. But finally, LT, saw what I was talking about. I’m not proud of that. I wish I could have kept riding tough and that it would be a lot longer until we got to the whole confidence thing.

But such is life!

As I walked down to the stadium warm-up, passing the ring and watching my team mate almost have a nasty stop at the second fence, my heart started shrinking. Those fences looked big. Bigger by far than the XC fences we’d be doing later. And seeing my team member almost stop at a jump with hay bales under it? A fence I was already worried about? Not confidence building.

From the beginning, warm-up just felt like a disaster and it didn’t get better as we started jumping. We got over every single fence, not one refusal, but they weren’t pretty.

Exhibit One:

Not pretty. Not pleasant.

Exhibit Two:

LT pulled me aside at that point and told me to ride tough. I told her I didn’t want to do it. Not that I couldn’t ride the course, but that I didn’t want to.

“Do you want to scratch?” she asked. I didn’t say anything for a minute. “You can if you want. I won’t push you in there if you don’t think you’re ready. I do think you are though. I wouldn’t let you be here if you weren’t.”

But I didn’t want to scratch. I’m not a quitter. And I still wanted to ride XC (don’t ask me the logic behind that, I could not tell you). So she set me up to the fence again and told me to sit back, heels down and kick on and do whatever I needed to to get Gus over the fence. So I did. I pony club kicked, sat my butt down, and told him to “GIT UP THERE.” I think I scared a few trainers but we went over beautifully.

Then it was my turn to go in with these words of wisdom in my brain: ride forward but not crazy, heels down and leg on, and don’t get in front. Got it.

It wasn’t a perfect round but it was pretty darn close. Or at least as close as I can ride it right now. I rode hard to the first two fences, which also happened to be the ones with the most filler. I didn’t give myself time to think about stopping, hoping that it would keep Gus from stopping too.

It seemed to work!

Fence three was beautiful but at fence four I started getting ahead.

This led to me riding a little bit crazy to fence five… a big mistake as it was already on a tight turn and had been coming down all day. We brought it down too. The hesitation from Gus wasn’t so much from nerves but because we got a really really bad distance. And still, with legs on, Gus went for it.

We went for it on fence six as well. And this one the hesitation came because it was a scary fence. I felt him back off as we came around the turn but I pushed on and we got over.

Fence seven and fence eight both rode okay.

Then we came around to the last two stride. It was PERFECTION. Gus and I got our stride and rode through it like no big deal. I was so happy with the big guy.

Even though we had a rail down I was beaming from ear to ear. Maybe not the stadium round I really wanted but I couldn’t be happier with Gus continuing to try and with myself for riding tough.

Super trainer was right. I can do this.

Poplar Place Farm Schooling H.T. 2.11.17 – Part 2

The time to tack up and get ready for stadium came way to soon. We had walked the course the night before but my memory really wasn’t all that great and it had been such a sweeping big course that I wasn’t feeling confident about getting every fence. I had to watch a few people ride it to really get it down and I’ll admit that, on course, I had a couple of panic moments where I just kept riding around the rail hoping the fence would come up.

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The one positive that I am really holding on to is that when we walked down to the arena and saw the fences, I was convinced that they were still running the Tadpole division and that they hadn’t moved the fences up. It’s not that they look particularly small but they didn’t look huge. Actually, they really didn’t look that big at all. It was amazing.

 

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And then when I went in there to ride my test, Gus didn’t look at a single fence. We didn’t get all the correct distances of course, but I kept my leg strong and my elbows soft and rode the hell out of that course. New Trainer was super pleased and thought that was my best stadium to date. Of course, she hasn’t seem some of the really disastrous ones but it still meant a lot.

Gus was still a tiny bit spooky as we rode past the judge’s tent which was right next to a two stride line but that will come with more rides in different places. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get him through the line, obviously, but it did lead to a less than pleasant second fence.

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But even with the spook and one disastrous approach to fence 9, we rode a great course, had no rails down and came in under time. Another double clear for Gus and I. I like going double clear, makes me feel good even at a schooling show.

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Double clear aside, the thing I really can’t leave alone is just how confident I felt the whole time. Even with being sick, even not being sure I knew the whole course, even back talking to New Trainer in warm-up (um, blame that on being sick?), I didn’t fear that course. This is HUGE for me.

Last year I was still nervous about getting around the Tadpole stadium course and now I’m thinking the BN course doesn’t look big enough. While I’m not ready for Novice yet, this is the first time in a long time I’ve stepped out of the stadium ring and thought that I might be by the end of the year.

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I  could have ended my day here and been totally happy with how well everything had gone. Gus was on point and I was managing to hold it together. Win – Win. But we still had XC up and I was going to have to dig deep to find the energy for that!

Poplar Place Schooling Show 4.30.16 – Stadium

I had a much better attitude going in Stadium jumping despite the fact that I was starting to wilt from the heat. Even though it’s probably an hour or two longer than I feel comfortable leaving the dogs at home for, next time they’re staying home. I felt so bad for them and we ended up letting them sit in the running truck for a good portion of the day.

I may have spent a few hours in the AC as well!

But anyway, stadium:

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Unlike the December show, these stadium jumps didn’t look big to me. We still don’t have a lot of experience with full courses but I felt a lot more confident in both warm up and going into the ring.

Gus was super good in the warm up. We had one girl in particular who kept running right up my ass, cutting me off, and generally being a nuisance. Thank God, Gus is such a low key animal.

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The course road well and Gus only had two moments of uncertainty. One was just a random fence and the other was when he saw the judges canopy. I really wanted to do a big circle past it when I entered the ring but they were trying to really move the class along so just did a hunter circle to start my round.

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I tried my best to really just ride the rhythm and I think it served us well. There were some moments where Gus wanted to rush to the fence but mostly he was great. But watching the video I did find a bad habit of mine! I cluck to every fence, regardless of if he needs it or not.