The last time I show-jumped in an arena, it was a height of 80cm. I came off at fence 4, a lovely little rickashaw over the left shoulder into the ground.
That was over 6 years ago. Haven't done it since.
As show-jumping is part of eventing the trainer decided it was time to head off for some clear round show-jumping to gain some experience at a big center. We've been working on jumping at the yard but now the time had come for the big-time. Just kidding! Clear round show-jumping is basically practice, but the jumps are set up like an actual competition, so in other words, pressure is a lot less.
I had a notion I was going to be jumping 70'cms; it's a height that I'm comfortable and am confident for the most part to get around. I may not win style points or get a clear round but I will stay in the saddle until the end.
We had a lesson the day before in preparation.
Death would have been easier.
I don't think I've ever jumped so many questions; questions being the jumps.
Angles, skinnies, corners, doubles, parallels, barrels and everything and anything. I'm pretty sure she snuck the doubles up to a height of 90cm as well.
When I started this challenge I made a promise not to say no to anything. I would not let myself talk myself out of being able to do this. The trainer is boss and I listened and do. This is basically my mantra in every one of our lessons otherwise, I will over analyze myself right out of the saddle and never ride again.
One of my new tricks is not to look at the jumps from the perspective of sitting on a horse, rather I look at the jumps from the perspective from the horse's knees. This is done by video tapping a session and then watch it back later. When you see the horse literally 'step' over them, they aren't as scary. This has been a key in switching my mind from seeing all jumps as 4* size to something actually do-able.
In the lesson, I was trying to see the jumps from Frog's perspective which would be to just 'pop' over them. Hopefully, it works.
The trainer had me go and I mean GO.
More, again, more, don't stop, keep going, over this and that and back to this, jump that, do this, jump that, more of that and now this and OMG.
I did have a mild panic in the saddle as it was a lot for my poor nervous system. Remember I'm a wobbleberry which means I am a nervy rider and Frog was getting excited as he loves to jump. There was a moment when I realized I was jumping a 90cm double combination( first time EVER) combined with Frog's powerful back-end surge over the jump. It did a number on me especially as we were approaching a tight corner and a skinny.
My trainer is good at what she does. She let me pause and breathe and allowed me a few moments of 'tahnee-speak' which is when I over-analyze everything while she stands there and smiles at me. Then she makes me...
DO IT AGAIN.
But it works and I almost vomit from both relief and exertion.
The next day we headed off to Keysoe for clear round showjumping. Admittedly quite nervous but I trust Frog and my trainer. We arrived just as it was kicking off so it was still nice and quiet. This is perfect when you don't want many witnesses around to see your many mistakes or falling off, always a possibility when a nervy rider.
The warm-up was good, partly due to there being only 1 other person in the area. I felt like I was 'riding', getting that leg on, working every stride, making Frog listen, like I knew what I was doing. The reality is that Frog knows his job exceptionally well and basically is riding me around.
Before too long, it was time to go in for my rounds. 8 jumps done twice with a wee break inbetween. I wanted to get it all done and dusted as my stomach couldn't handle much more.
2 double clears! The feeling was amazing and I didn't come off which was my main priority nor did I vomit in the saddle, always a priority. It was the perfect entry back into the world of showjumping and I'm starting to feel this challenge is quite achievable!
Proof we did it! It was another experience of gaining more confidence in the saddle and more importantly that the prep work you do at home is the key to success out. Thanks again to the owner/trainer of Frog who has been pivotal in my growth as a rider in the saddle and keeping me moving forward in the Wobbleberry Challenge!
Next up, stressage aka Dressage!