tldr: Deciding on & practicing for a super-low show jumping class.
The words … I has them.
Should we or shouldn’t we?
Yes we should!
Did we or didn’t we?
Should we or shouldn’t we?
After our raging success in our inaugural jump(ish) class on Saturday [Kinda, Sorta], it was suggested that we consider something similar the following weekend at Full Circle Horse Park. The lowest class was 12″ crossrails. Hmmm.
Sunday morning was spent pondering the idea.
On the plus side. He stepped up to the poles class. One doesn’t make progress without pushing the envelope. We’ve trotted the FCHP warm-up jumps already, hopping over both before we went out on into the XC pasture [Dynamic Duo Does Dinky Jumps]. It’s not in a ring, but it’s wedged into a corner of the field with fence lines on two sides. He seems to consider the area safe, at least safer than out in the distant wilds of the XC pasture [Ditto]. We can always pull up if he’s overwhelmed. It’s a buncha tiny crossrails. At worst, we walk over them.
On the minus side. We had never done more than three crossrails in a row. Wait for the next one. Practice at home first. Patience has worked so far. Don’t rush it now.
Result. The closing date had passed. Since we were already in late fee territory, the plan was to wait & decide on the day, or as late as the organizer would let us punt. As with the poles class, it would depend on what kind of day Milton was having. If he was super awesome, we won’t. If he was super awful, we won’t. If all was well, we would wander over and have a go.
I had a choice of what class(es) to enter
Option A: Two Classes
3. USDF Intro A. Counts as its own class.
23. 12″ Cross Rails. Separate class. Not timed. Ribbon for clear round.
Option B: One Class
16. Pre-Amoeba CT USDF Intro A/12″. Dressage score converted to penalty scores. Any crossrail penalties added.
The rides are the same.
The scoring is different.
The difference is nonexistent.
The difference is everything.
Entering the Combined Test meant entering an official, formal jumping competition, even if we wouldn’t be jumping. The idea immediately spiked my anxiety meter into the red zone.
On the plus side. The effort is the same for the horse. He has no idea what the classes are labeled. At some point, I’m going to have to enter a jumping class, see envelope-pushing, above. This would be a well-known, low-key place to start.
On the minus side. Milton should have more than one show with his new, relaxed attitude before we declare him an old hand at this show gig. The goal of all of these has been to settle the horse, not to do Intro dressage. Therefore, I need to be as calm as possible in my own head, whatever it takes. It is too early to expect him to be the adult.
Result. We decided to keep the classes separate, ridiculous as it is.
Yes we should!
Sunday afternoon, we loaded up and headed for Stepping Stone Farm. With the one jump [Rollerskates], a caveletto, poles & driving cones, my jump crew cobbled together a “course” of three super low fences. We did two laps in one direction, reversed, then two laps in the other, with a bonus fence to finish on. In total, 13 tiny crossrails taken at a trot, trotting over them, no jumping. Milton definitely noticed when we got to up into jumps 7 and 8, but kept trundling along.
We got this!
On Tuesday, we went over for our regular Tuesday lesson slot at Falcon Hill Farm. Coach Molly had us canter two poles. Well, okay. We haven’t been able to do much cantering since our last lesson. Then, she set pole-to-crossrail. Hmm. Trot the pole. Jump the cross rail. Alright. Next, canter two cross rails. Do what?! This was definitely edge-of-the-envelope territory for us. Well, that’s why one has lessons. We did both directions.
Okay, now can I practice a course? I didn’t say at a trot. I meant at a trot. I thought at-a-trot was obvious. I can live with the “bigger” fence, as long as I can trot into them. She set five cross rails. Nice, gentle crossrails, but high enough that one had to jump them rather than trot over. Then told us to canter over them. DO WHAT? Does this woman understand how little cantering Milton and I have done together? There’s a good chance she has seen the majority of our cantering. There was hyperventilating involved. By me. Horse was fine.
Milton was a star. We did the course a handful of times. I kept my leg on to encourage him and keep him straight. Otherwise, hippity hop – in the good way – over he went. We trotted one, when I got in wrong and he trotted to fix it. Fine fellow.
He got angry with me at one point as he got tired. Then a walk break and he was back to being lovely.
We so got this!
One. At FHF, I took off my fleece vest while mounted and draped over the side of the ring. He didn’t care. Nor did he spook at the new thing in a new place. After the lesson, picked up the vest, got out my camera & took pictures [We Canter]. Mox nix. Horses have spooked at less.
Two. At SSF on Sunday and FHF on Tuesday, I got on without a header. This is a big step for me. Only the 2nd and 3rd time ever. (Well, 3rd & 4th time ever, but we are not counting the first one, lo these many years ago.)
Are we slick or what?
By Tuesday evening, Milton was furious. He wanted to bite the world. He was sore and tired and cranky. He had cantered. He had jumped. Grumble. Grouse. Bite. I’m thinking he’s the sort of horse who wants to be left alone when he’s recuperating.
We canceled a possible Thursday lesson and spent the rest of the week getting Milton relaxed and happy. In the mornings, I took him for a hand-walk to loosen his back. Then hand-grazed him in the front field for half an hour. In the evenings, I would ride for 20 to 30 minutes. Wednesday at a gentle walk. Thursday, we added a little bit of mild trotting. Friday, a tiny cross rail as a reminder.
When we started jumping – to use the term loosely, Milton perked up. He accelerated to the jump. He cantered away from it. Yay, my horse likes to jump. He’s attacking them with gusto. You know, I might need to consider a strong bit.
I was delightfully pleased with myself, right up until Milton landed from the cross rail and got a case of the hops. Not the good kind. While it wasn’t as bad as his previous attack [Two Hops], at least one hop had serious hang time. I yelled and brought him to a stop. I stayed on. I didn’t fall off. I didn’t dismount. Jump crew lowered everything and we trotted the poles.
Note to self. Milton is not a puller. If he is strong, it is a sign that he is upset. If we keep going, he will blow a gasket. A good lesson to learn. Not a lesson one wants to learn the night before a horse show.
Did we or didn’t we?
I won’t make you wait until Thursday. We did.
Thank you for reading,