Heart of Hearts

This show started out for me fairly similar to how RMWF did. Going as a spectator, falling in love, and setting a goal to one day be one of those glorious people in the competition ring. This is the second time I’ve made that dream come true, and taken my humble horse to Heart of the Continent- Manitoba’s largest and most competitive outdoor hunter jumper show. Willard and I entered in our usual divisions- and were most competitive in the 3ft hunters. If I were to take you round by round over the course of this 5 day event, this post would take 5 days to get through- so I’ll give you a briefing on how we did.

Overall this was one of our best shows yet. I feel like I say that every time I write about a competition, which is the way it should be right? Always seeing improvements, and the big picture starts getting a little more awesome. Thursday and Friday we stayed consistent and earned ourselves top 6 placings in our Child/Ami/Non-Pro division as well as the Senior Low and Open Low divisions. Will pulled out his awesome for the flats- which he normally despises, and we were scrounge up some good results there too.

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Saturday brought the big Equine Canada Open Low $5000 Hunter Classic, which we managed to put in a great round for. My best Classic round yet (Hunter classics are just a fancy, longer hunter round- of which the top 10 scorers get called back for a second final round- usually intense, always more expensive). If you’d like to see what our round looked like, click here.  We ended the first round with a score of 64, just a couple points below the cut off for the second round. There were 30 competitors in this class, one of the biggest hunter classics I’ve ever competed in (no doubt the purse helped). What brought our score down? We didn’t find the elusive perfect distance to the first fence, which in a big competitive class such as this one is important. I also had to push him up in one of the lines, and that slight pace change would for sure catch the judges eye. However, the fact that we were only a few points behind the top 10, and it was our best classic round ever, is enough to satisfy me! Besides, missing that distance in that class meant that I found it in every single course I did the rest of the weekend (that same first jump ended up being the first jump in most of my courses). Later on that day we ended up 2nd in our Child/Ami/Non-Pro, click here to see that round, and placed in the top 6 of our other rounds and flats for the day.

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The final day of competition brought our Adult/Ami medal and our 3ft Hunter Special (specials are similar to classics, except they are only one round). Our course in the medal class went really well, however I didn’t ride a very great flat portion and we ended up 4th overall- still very respectable given our competition! The high light for me was our Special round. It was absolutely perfect, except we had some loud ticks on a couple fences which brought down our score. However we still managed to place 6th overall, which meant I achieved my goal of winning a “fancy ribbon”! It was the first time we’ve ever placed in a special, and I am SO pumped about it! Another high light was being Reserve Champion in our Child/Ami/Non-pro division for the weekend!

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Fancy ribbon!!!

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The rest of the loot!

So, it was a super great weekend for us results wise. Many goals were achieved, even the superficial ones- like getting a cool ribbon. One of the best things for me was to be able to place, and be competitive with some really good, national competition. To hold our own against some of the best horse/rider combos in western Canada is something to be proud of! Another really cool thing is how consistent we were throughout the entire weekend. Something that is becoming common for us is that consistency. The ability to go into the ring and have good rounds over and over again is new, but exciting. I used to be happy with one good round over an entire show- but now I expect to go in and be successful no matter what. The bar keeps getting raised higher, and I’m excited to find out what we can achieve next.

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Still 1

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2 days to go

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Willard’s face as he sees me eating HIS apple.

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“I did that one stride like a champ.. and this is how you reward me?!” I know.. I’m a jerk.

Had a fantastic lesson with M&C tonight. Which is exactly what I needed coming up to Wheat City this weekend. I am really starting to get a hang of this whole riding thing, it seems. I’ve never felt stronger in the tack, and my legs stay where they need to be and find the distances for me. We even did a one stride tonight, to finish off. One strides used to be a terrifying thing for me, but I realized tonight that I really don’t have anything to fear anymore. As long as I support my horse, he will get me out of there. For the most part, tonight, I was probably overriding through the combo. The thing is though, you’re moving so fast that you don’t even have time to think about things as they happen. The two main thoughts for me were, okay- legs on, shoulders back, jump in- one- out. After take off of the first jump, there are no thoughts. Only rhythm. Which is what my last post was themed around. Tonight really came down to just that, all over again. Getting to that first jump with a rhythm- everything else is taken care of after that. There is nothing you can think in that period of time to fix anything. Leading up to the vertical in was C’s voice creating a pace “da dum da dum da dum” as she does, and all I could hear past that was hooves leaving the ground- silence- one stride- silence- and landing. It’s nice to not have to think so hard about everything. It’s even nicer to feel a more concrete trust forming between me and myself regarding my ability to not slip into bad habits and not let old fears take over.

Progress, I love it!

I also have to say that my horse is still managing to surprise me with skill and power that just seems to keep coming year after year. He is jumping fantastic this season. So fantastic that tonight C actually stopped mid-sentence out of distraction after he took a beautiful jump over a vertical. C, speechless. That doesn’t happen often. But, I’ll stop bragging about my horse now…

The evening ended with M saying “You’re getting good at this.” and then “If you keep riding like this we might let you ride jumpers more often!”. Now if that’s not encouraging (especially for those of you who know M), I don’t know what is.