After a considerable amount of hemming and hawing (was Stella going to have an abscess, could I make some progress on my staggering fear of jumping this horse?) I entered the Heartland show at our local horse park. Most of my friends were going and I didn't want to avoid it.
Stella and I were still quite inconsistent over fences but I felt like I had a bit of a handle on it. When I feel like I'm getting a bit nervous, ACCELERATE!!
Schooling the night before was a mad house. 90 horses of varying stage of off the track, and 90 riders in varying stages of THIS IS OUR FIRST SHOW! made it insane. I had to work hard remembering how to ride at a show and provide a stable support for Stella who had a lot to look at.
I had initially planned on schooling through all the rings, but at least one was occupied by a trainer giving lessons so I settled with schooling around the outsides of two, inside one, then changing venues and trying to perform a test in a new arena cold.
I felt our test was pretty decent for where we are in our training. She was obedient to most of my aids, crooked where she normally was, but thankfully prompt in her transitions even when she had a lot to look at. She spent most of the time bent to the outside so she could SEE ALL THE THINGS but in the end we got a 40.9 which I felt was about right.
Jumping warm up was all about controlling my nerves. She stopped at the first warm up fence. Which I knew she was going to. Yet failed to ride aggressively enough to prevent. Doh. Thankfully, I got her over it from a standstill to let her know that she knew her job and it was unacceptable to stop when it was a teeny tiny fence and her rider was being a moron.
After that it got easy. She didn't care about the fences, she cantered away, and I even cantered the other two cold. ME! HA!
I went into the ring knowing that I was going to have a bit of a time getting her to focus on me and what was in front of her. There was lots of stuff to look at. I had a plan in place to school past a few things, change direction, walk and trot a couple times. Get her sharp and focused.
She had a dramatic meltdown in front of fence one. Was it the poop under the fence? The fact that we had been trotting around and not jumped yet? Me giving up my plan ahead of time? The person on the ground?
Does it really matter.
I gathered myself, got to whacking, and whacked her butt right over one. WOOO!
The rest of the fences were nothing. She didn't look, she didn't question, she didn't stop. I tried very hard to remember my trainer's voice in my head ACCELERATE! GO FASTER! When she landed in a canter I kept my leg on and for the love of God we actually cantered down to most of the fences. It felt easy. It felt fun. It felt like I knew what I was doing!
Then I cantered right past fence 10. Oooops. Can't be 100% on it at once I guess.
In the end I was very happy. When I got past our (My?) first fence jitters everything else felt easy. I had most of a plan and carried it out. Stella didn't know we had to circle back to 10. It gave me a confidence boost for our next show and further lessons. Unfortunately due to some scheduling mountains it will be three weeks before we have another jumping lesson, and for once this spring I can hardly wait!