Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rockin' It Old-Skool - Jumper I

Rust breeches - check. Green coat - check. Scallop braids - check.

For turnout in our first jumper class (Jumper I... creative, right?) at the Morgan Grand National, Star and I totally rocked it old-skool, with me sporting rust breeches and a greenish-tannish-sageish coat, and Star sporting scallop braids. We looked pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. The only things that could have made it better would have been brown field boots and a brown helmet. *nods*

So on to the course... well, back up a bit. Before the class, I was so nervous I was literally sick to my stomach and near tears. Yes, you read that right. I don't remember the last time I was so nervous. The course wasn't terribly difficult, but it wasn't exactly easy (not that it should have been, given that this was the Grand National and World Champion show). It was also Table II)2.b, so that meant that I had to have not only my first round memorized, but also the jump-off course. Oh! AND I was second in the order of go.

Did I mention that it's been over a year since we last did the jumpers? And before that, it had been at least two years since we had done the jumpers? Yeah...

We go in for our first round, wait for the whistle, and then develop a nice canter. Nothing fast or crazy - in the first round, the main point is to go clean. Star had a pretty good rub on fence number one. Of course, I had to look back to see if the rail came down... there's not much more disappointing than the very first rail coming down, except maybe the last rail coming down. Regardless, pulling the very first rail sets a rather disheartening tone. The rail stayed up, and Star figured out that hitting rails probably wasn't the best plan of action. Bending line from 1 (going away) to 2, big left turn around 5 to 3, rollback to 4, bending line to 5, and fairly long run heading back home to 6a and b, an in-and-out. Now those of you who know something about distances and strides will know that for an "average" 12-foot stride, a one-stride combination (an in-and-out) would be set with 24' between the jumps. I have seen in the past at Morgan shows one-stride combinations set at 21', to accommodate a breed that is sometimes shorter-strided than "average." And 21' is still reasonable. In this course, the distance between 6a and 6b was 18 feet. Yes, you read that right, too. So a long run heading home to an 18' in-and-out. Sounds like a recipe for a rail down. And there were rails down... just not for my horse! A left turn back to 7 and a right turn to 8, and we were across the timer in about 59 seconds with a clean round. Turns out the time allowed was 60 seconds. Oops. Maybe I should have bothered to know that before going in the ring! Making the time allowed had never been a problem before, so I never gave it a second thought, and though we made it, it did teach me a valuable lesson.

On to the jump-off. The jump-off course was 1-2-3-5-6a-6b. NOW I was going to ride for time... especially having come so close to the time allowed in the first round! I am told that you could see quite a marked change in our pace between round one and the jump-off. Fence 1 and 2, pretty much same as before, but with less bend in the line. My plan had been to cut on the inside of 5 to come to 3 this time, but landing off fence 2, I just wasn't prepared enough, and opted to go around. Over 3, tight right back to 5, and the same long run from 5 to 6a and b. Got a bit of a gallop, set up, over, tiny stride, out and through the timer. Time allowed: 30 seconds. Our time: 26 seconds. Good enough for first at that point.

A couple more riders went who didn't make time and/or had rails. And then it was MM's turn. MM was reserve champion last year and champion the year before with the same horse (who I actually quite like and reminds me quite a bit of my Star) she was riding this year, and is pretty much the "local favorite," and the rider that everyone knows. There was talk that she would probably have a first round time of 45 seconds. Well, that's nice, but what's the point? Anyway, MM went clear in her first round. Time for the jump-off. MM apparently had the same jump-off plan as I, and nearly fell off at fence 2 trying to make the turn. Now, normally, I don't hope someone falls off, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't hoping she fell (as long as no one got hurt, that is). Well, unfortunately for me, she did not fall and successfully made the inside turn to fence 3. The rest of her round was clean... dammit! Time: 23 seconds. Beat by 3 seconds, and all because I didn't prepare well enough and stick to my plan (I know it took us more than 3 seconds to go around fence 5). Well, shit!

However, all cursing aside, I can't complain. Star and I ended up second, with which I was thrilled. For not having competed in the jumpers in over a year, being so nervous I was about to puke and cry, for being the underdog, and, well, everything else taken into consideration, my horse was AMAZING, and I could not be more pleased with her performance! And to take second place, to boot, is just icing on the cake (or cookie... I like cookies better).

And we looked damn good doing it!

1 comment:

  1. Whohoo! Congrats on a job well done. It's too bad that you got second by a measly three seconds... but still, definitely a ride to be proud of. Love the outfit too. Definitely styling - and the colors look fabulous next to Star's lovely color. I could never pull those colors off, especially on Gus. Yuck! You'll have to post more photos on your blog too. If you have any more classes to come, GOOD LUCK!