Paddy and I finished our jumping adventures on a high before we both went on holidays, with a double clear in both the 85cm and 95cm class at a local unaffiliated schooling show. I’m starting to get the hang of him now – getting a bit more control of the canter, and his shoulder!
I was keen to get straight back into jumping after our holidays to make sure I didn’t lose my nerve, so I arranged a lesson with Jade (my jumping coach and livery yard owner!) to get us going. We started with some polework to develop my eye for a stride, and encourage a good rhythm in Paddy’s canter. When we were warmed up, Jade put together a little figure-of-eight course for us, to get us working on straightness, seeing a stride, and getting our changes. Three things I took away from our lesson were
- Be softer through the elbow on the flat/over poles to encourage Paddy to work over his back
- Push my hands further up his neck over a fence, and
- Staying centred and straight in my jumping position as I have a tendency to tip in the direction I am planning to turn.
By following this advice, Paddy landed on the correct leg on the right rein for the first time, something I have struggled with in the past!
So, armed with a fresh perspective – and that naive sense of ambition
that comes with a return to work after holidays – Paddy and I headed off to Coilog Equestrian Centre for our first affiliated SJI show. I was definitely feeling nervous! I entered the 80cm and 90cm classes, as I wanted to ensure we had more than one opportunity to have a good round just in case we had any hiccups!
My warmup definitely needs improving – I get nervous thinking about my round and my warmup lacks structure. I know the theory behind a good warmup – long and low, stretching to start, lots of transitions, move him up and back within the canter, couple of cross poles and verticals, a few oxers and back to a vertical before my round. I did most of this but felt it could have been improved, and this is definitely something I am going to work on.
Our 80cm round wasn’t the best on paper, but I learned a lot from it – we had two refusals which were just green-ness on Paddy’s part, but I absolutely could have ridden through them. He gave me good warning that he didn’t like the fences (right by the judges box with ‘scary’ fillers) and I didn’t ride strongly enough. However I got my s**t together for the remainder of the course and rode him through his wobbles, and we had a much more confident finish.
And when it came to our 90cm round, I was ready. We were first to go, and I felt much more confident this time around as he was listening to me, between my hand and leg, and not backing off the fences. However, I did feel I held him a bit too much – this combined with some fatigue on his part led to some takeoffs being deeper than I would have liked. I need to make sure that I’m riding forward as when the fences get bigger the lack of impulsion could get us into trouble! Nevertheless, due to his exceptionally careful nature, we got a double clear and gained our first SJI point together! To say I was over the moon would be an understatement!
Overall, I’m really pleased with the results of the day, and I’ve learned a lot for our next outing – it was just great to get out and show myself that I can confidently handle these shows alone (save for my super-groom/photographer boyfriend!), and I was so happy with Paddy’s attitude.
Now I’m excited about refining everything and getting out to our next SJI show – all the Autumn leagues are starting up, so maybe we’ll get a few more clear rounds under our belt, or even a frilly!