Monday, August 11, 2014

Welp, that's it

This whole season, building up to one moment, this one goal that I have hunted down for the past four months. I ended up third in the finals, but that was after not being able to even look at breakfast then having my nerves body slam me at the last minute. I also had to wear my less than comfortable white show shirt because I'll be damned if I don't listen to at least that little smidgeon of advice that Marianne offered to me.

A lot of junior riders wish that they were born on the East Coast so that they could have so much access to bigger shows, but those shows are not fun unless everything you wear is made from coolmax. I would love to say that the humidity hit a record on Saturday, but, no, it was at it's regular, annoying, moderately unbearable level. My white show shirt is just a basic shirt. Wearing it again actually made me appreciate my new shirt a little bit more (I'd actually been planning on writing a review on Dover about how it didn't keep me that cool). I was in a pretty crabby mood that morning. I wasn't too happy about waking up at 4:30am, and everyone else was boisterous. That energy, it just, ugh. Panic! at the Disco radio got me up faster than their hippity hoopity. We all had some coffee. I didn't talk much on the drive to the show grounds (still feeling hella crabby).

We get there and get the horses fed and what not. Baby managed to stay clean even without a blanket on, and all of her braids stayed in (good horse). I gave her water and grain, then I had to turn in my entry forms again because the fax didn't go through or went to the wrong place. I drew for the order of go. I was fifth to ride out of the six in my medal. Course walks started after that, and there was a disagreement about the courtesy circle because I really did not want to do a big circle because it was a pretty massive courtesy circle, but, for the circumstance, it was necessary. There was also a question about the one, solitary rollback in the whole course. Do we cut on the inside of the white fence? Do we go around the white and the oxer? Where do we turn??? Fortunately, we weren't the only ones asking that. The final solution was to do whatever was best for the horse.

Everyone went ahead and got breakfast after we finished walking the course. There was a little table set up at the far end of the ring. Miss Marianne was already over there, enjoying her fruit salad, and she gave us a last minute pep talk. "You just have to make it to the flat," she said. Still, I was doubtful.

Cas, Izz, and I were sent off to school after that. I did my walk, trot, and canter, practiced transitions, did some sitting trot, and moved Baby off of my leg some. We trot over a tiny vertical which was fine, but when she cantered, it got a bit too fast. She slipped coming out of one. I was using way too much hand and probably no leg for the large majority of the morning. I think the only time I actually used my leg was when Miss S had me hand gallop a little bit. Poor Baby was gaping and curling back the whole time.

I took a minute to just breathe before I went in. Then I got in the arena and zoned everything else out. I sit trot into my courtesy circle, posted a bit, then went into the canter. I got up in my half seat, put my leg on (actually, that's where the leg was last applied), and did my course. She went over everything without a moment's hesitation. She took every distance I asked her to, even when I didn't go over the second fence with her, and pulled her around that tight rollback; we had another slip there, and she still took the next fence. She got the strides perfectly in the one line that we had to do, slowed down right when I asked her for the trot fence, then did a timely halt so we could get the more difficult turn to the second to last fence. She even went over the rolltop, you know, the thing that we hadn't jumped since I was excused during my second attempt at the Hunter Derby. She took it in stride, green velvet covered poles and all. I was brimming after that course, a big smile from ear to ear, and I hate smiling while riding as much as I hate oxers (Are they really necessary?). I was very happy with that course.

After the first course, two riders were eliminated. What was strange about these two judges was that they'd let people keep going even if they went off course. You could pretty much stay in until you went over the last fence. Anyway, we went back in for the flat. It was a pretty basic flat, just walk, sitting trot, rising trot, and canter both ways. After the flat, one more girl was taken out of contention. And now there were three. I was at the bottom of the group, so I had to do my test first. It was the same rollback from the course, then the trot fence, then just another simple fence after that and a halt. I think they were looking for the tighter turn from the trot fence to the last fence in the test, but I didn't feel confident doing that turn, so I decided to leave it out. Unfortunately, I made the same mistake in the test that I made in the course. We slipped again in the rollback, but Baby took a longer distance and landed the correct lead. All three of us messed up on the test. One of the girls knocked the last fence, and the other one's horse tripped on the halt. I'd say we missed the hoop, but at least we took the shot.

After that, they called the placings, with me being the first name in third place. During the victory lap, I opted out of taking a fence. I was done at that point. I actually shook my head as I went past the fence, so the photographer probably has a picture of me cantering along with this disapproving look on my face. That's a photo to buy and frame on a shrine. I won a nice, golden ribbon (which was shoved recklessly into my show bag because I wanted to get home), an embroidered saddle pad, and bucket with a bunch of stuff in it. No, seriously, it has a bunch of stuff in it. There's a fly bonnet, caramel corn, a gift card, Skittles, white gloves (the kind you smack people with), a ticket to Jolly Rogers, horse treats, mints, salt water taffy, and more stuff that I can't remember. Paying that trophy fee all season was totally worth it.

But the day didn't end there! Nope! I still had Low Hunter and Jr. Eq. to do. Baby actually did really well in Low Hunter, and I took time to really think about using my legs instead of my hands. The first course was okay, but still not enough leg. The second course was way better. There was one spot where I used my hands too much and we separated, but we came back together over the final fence. She was flying afterwards instead of pulling along on the forehand. We placed third in the first course, first in the second, and fourth on the flat, giving us enough points for reserve champion. Marianne got champion on a friend's horse (and won the Hunter Derby on the same horse . . . and the Adult Medal Final . . . then placed fourth on her own horse in the Derby). It was my first reserve champion though, so I'm happy (it was also shoved into my show bag because I wanted to get home so badly and didn't have the time to neatly fold my ribbons up and place them gently like baby doves into a satin lined box).

Jr. Eq. wasn't bad, except for the whole forgetting my second course thing. I'm not kidding about the judge though. I was off course by the third jump, but I got over four more jumps before I realized I was off course and just left the ring. The first course was good though. I finally got that rollback right, and we even did another good one on a tight turn and friggen nailed it because I actually used my legs with my hands only there as back up. Talk about an inside bend. We got fifth in the first course out of nine then third on the flat out of ten.

It was a great day and a fantastic way to end the series. We had no stops all day, and I intend to keep it that way. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do from now until the end of the year. I have colleges to apply to; my current list only has four on it, so that's going to have to be extended. Miss S said that we could have a show at the barn, so there's a lot of planning time going into that. Otherwise, I'm mainly focused on working through my bad riding habits and getting some potential new shows down for next summer.

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