Well the 2018 show season is well and truly here and I am excited to compete locally (and somewhat frequently) over the next few months.
The first show on my calendar was the Canberra Classic. It is a two day show which is run by the ACT Showjumping Club (ACTSJC). Because I love the sport and I am a glutton for punishment I am on the committee. So on top of preparing the two horses, I was also charged with the job of organising volunteers throughout the show. This job can be challenging at times, because time is valuable, and people often do not want to commit to help. That being said, there is a group of volunteers who always offer to help, and I remain utterly grateful for their efforts!
My preparation for the Classic saw me get a tune up from my long term instructor Grant Hughes. Back in the day, I used to get weekly lessons, flit around the stables carefree and with all the time in the world (not quite Saddle Club style – but not far off either). These days I am more of a haggard looking hermit who people know but rarely see. I also don’t have the time or money to get the amount of lessons I would like (or need). So I try and get lessons when I know I need them most (IE before a competition for a swift kick up the bum or when I am faced with a training challenge that I can’t resolve solo).
I always try and get a grid lesson with Narnia before a show because a) I can really work on my position, b)we can jump grids to get her a bit more careful, and c)it’s a good way for me to gauge my quality of canter and how well my solo training is going. On this occasion, Grant pointed out I was dropping my eyes and not being tall enough with my shoulders. However my mare was jumping nicely which was encouraging. Side note: I wish I picked up good habits as quickly or easily as I pick up bad ones!
I have also recently been given the ride on a mare called Celeste. She is a beautiful looking horse with a scopey jump to match. I just need to learn to ride her properly! Therefore my preparation for the Classic also saw me get a much needed lesson on Celeste with Grant. In this lesson, Grant highlighted that in training I was spending so much time trying to keep her ‘happy and settled’ and I wasn’t working her enough in a forward canter. To quote him “you need to go forward to slow her down”. Needless to say, Grant worked his magic, pushed me when necessary, and helped me iron out a few jockey errors.
This leads me to the competition itself. On the first day the weather was ordinary, and I felt ordinary too which wasn’t helped by one little human who thought mummy didn’t need to sleep the night before. Needless to say I sucked it up and kept going. Highlight was Narnia jumping her around her second 1.20m track and first amateur track well. I am my worst critic and there are definitely things I could have done better, but I was happy overall.
The second day of competition was thankfully better weather, and my mood seemed to have lifted along with it. Celeste seemed to settle better in the warm up arena, and while she jumped everything with plenty of scope, our approach and departure still needs work! But I feel I am slowly getting to know her, and am confident once she trusts me and I ride her better, she will be a super. So my plan will be to keep her jumping low, establish a solid foundation before asking her to jump the moon.
The second day also saw Narnia jump clear in the 1.15m class, and one down in the 1.20m amateur class. I was especially happy with Narnia because thanks to her jockey being disorganised/having the bladder the size of a pea we got to the practice arena with only one horse to go. So we had a very rushed warm up before going into her biggest class of the show (inset face palm here). In any case, the mare jumped super!
I walked out of the arena doing a Chris Chugg style pirouette and victory lap in my head. I was/am stoked.
I was so worried about crashing in the amateur class, I never imagined that the following day I would be in a car crash myself (rear ended to be specific). So I have scored the day off work on account of whiplash, and am busy planning for the NSW State Showjumping Titles which is being held in a month.
Until next time!
“Just Another Amateur Showjumper” – NSW Showjumping Championships
My preparation for the NSW Showjumping Championships went pretty well all things considered.
Following the car accident, my back caused me some minor issues. However the pain was nothing a hot bath and drugs couldn’t fix. I am also very lucky to have some fabulous friends who helped me out by looking after the horses while I was carless and driving me around to doctor’s appointments during the day.
Not riding for a week due to my back (and two days off work) gave me time which is a rare commodity for me. I binge watched several Netflix shows, ate my weight in chocolate, and got a heap of housework done. It also gave me a chance to do my entries for the upcoming show. This is when s**t got real. With two horses attending the four day show cost me over $500.
Now rewind ten years before I had a mortgage, 2 kids and a long list of ‘adulting’ related expenses, I would have paid this out of my pocket without a second thought. However these days when I am faced with such an expense I am always confronted by “mummy guilt”. For those who are lucky enough to have never suffered from this and/or don’t have kids, it is a crappy thing mums do to themselves when they feel they are not good enough.
Personally I feel guilty all the time when it comes to the horses (whether it be the time I spend away from my family or how much it all costs). A $500 entry fee could be used for a terms worth of swimming lessons for both kids, we could go away on a family holiday, or I could be responsible and put it on the mortgage or the credit card. However alas, I am choosing to use it on myself, and I struggle to reconcile my desire to ride / compete with what I ‘should’ do all the damn time.
It is this point where I usually start justifying my decision to myself. I will tell myself ‘at least I am not a junkie’, or ‘I am providing my children with a positive role model’ etc. However no matter how hard I try there is always a part of me that feels guilty and selfish about how much time/energy I invest *sigh*.
Ideally I would have attended the Country Championships in Wagga the week before the Titles to get those nervous competition cobwebs out of the way (and in hindsight I wish I had). When you are not competing week in, week out, it is easy to find yourself perpetually rusty in the ring. However taking additional leave was just not possible, so instead I focused on the practical things I could do (keeping my horses fit alongside adequate schooling and preparation at home).
The lead up to the show definitely had its up and downs. There was a particularly ordinary riding display during a lesson on Celeste (which left me feeling useless). Not to mention that my hand and jods were covered in blood after I had a miss at a jump and somehow managed to cut my hand on the buckle of the breastplate?!? (Might need some Wilson Equestrian jods sooner rather than later!).
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Being springtime it also led to Narnia being particularly “marey” which presented a whole range of challenges from dealing with her moods reminiscent of an obnoxious teenager to her jumping out of her skin from a sniff of sugary green grass …..
Roll on to the show itself, the NSW State Showjumping Titles was the biggest show I have attended all year. Quick shout out to the tireless organisers and volunteers, you did a fabulous job! These events do not run themselves, and it is important that we all remember that.
Unfortunately the show itself did not go to plan for me. In the first round of the Amateur class I had an epic miss through a combination which left me holding on for dear life, and Narnia royally saving my sorry ass. Unfortunately, my miss combined with slippery wet conditions led to Narnia losing confidence. To her credit she jumped everything I pointed her at. However four fences later I still couldn’t get my rhythm back and could feel her hesitation getting worse, so I made the decision to retire from the class.
From that moment onwards, the show became one of redemption. I scratched from the Amateur classes, and put her in a few 1m-1.10m classes. I would like to say that it was smooth sailing from here, but alas I cannot. Narnia spent the rest of the show not jumping as she normally would, and to be honest, I was not riding her as well as I could either. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t bitterly disappointed in myself, but that’s the nature of the sport. One day you are a rooster, the next you are a feather duster!
The main positive from the show was the Celeste got a lot of exposure to the atmosphere. The first day she felt like she might explode from under me but by the end of the show she was trotting and cantering around quietly. Hoping this experience will translate to our next show!
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Another positive from the show was that I got to watch some inspiring showjumping. I especially enjoyed watching the riders whom I know have produced their own horses, the young guns who are bloody fearless, and the flash horses who make it look effortless. I do try to not get caught up in comparing though. Looking at others can be equally inspirational as it can be detrimental. It is very easy to be blinded by imported horses, flashy trucks or the latest gear. However I am a firm believer that we are all just doing the best we can, with whatever we have, in a sport that we love. I know that if I had the resources you can bet I would also own a flash as f**k truck and imported horses as well. So instead of wasting energy on the “what ifs”, following the latest trend, or getting caught up in jealousy I choose to focus on my own “race” and do the best with what I have.
I am unsure what my next show will be, but I hope it will be soon. In the meantime I have some serious homework to do!
Until next time!