After a summer slowdown where I focused solely on flatwork with my green Thoroughbred gelding, I was so excited to start jumping again.
We started our over fences work slowly. Prior to the summer flatwork boot camp, my seven-year-old, Mikey wasn’t showing great ability over jumps. He’s a big horse, towering at almost 17 hands. As such he’s long and gangly, and really struggled with being straight and not strung out when hauling his body over jumps.
I was so thrilled to see that our flatwork was translating over to jumping, and Mikey’s straightness and balance was much improved.
We competed at a small jumper show in September, with the hopes of going to a local dressage show and schooling cross-country for the first time in the later weeks. This all added up to preparation for our first ever attempt at competing in an eventing horse trial.
I had evented casually at low-level schooling shows, mostly just for fun, as a junior. But I only rode competitively and on a rated circuit in the hunters and equitation. So this was a whole new world for me.
When I bought Mikey a little over a year ago, I had hoped to continue my reign in the hunters with him, by slowly bringing him through the levels. But he had different plans, apparently. He showed little interest and less than ideal ” knees-to-nose” form, which is important for the hunters, unfortunately.
So began our quest to find a new discipline… together.
So here I am, entering an event for the first time as an adult, and like a true hunter princess, what I fretted about most was our turn out and tack. The last thing I wanted to do was show up at the show looking totally out of place, or with a piece of tack that might be legal in the hunter world (like standing martingale) but is totally illegal in eventing.
On the day of the show, I was actually pretty nervous, which is not at all like me. I’m usually pretty good at staying focused on the task at hand (which with a green horse, is pretty much just staying on and trying to have a quiet, productive round). But luckily my young horse totally rose to the occasion. He stepped off the trailer ready to go, like he’d been doing this for years.
We put in a nice dressage test. I was thrilled with Mikey’s willingness, and knew exactly where our weaknesses were during the test. Most of them fell on me and my nerves. So when I found out we were sitting in second after dressage, I was already on cloud nine, and so proud of my horse.
Next we went on the stadium round, which was held in a field and not an arena. Mikey seemed to really enjoy this, and put in a careful, but forward and clean round over fences. It was the perfect warm-up for our final phase: cross-country.
When I took Mikey to school cross-country for the first time a few weeks prior to this event, I was surprised to see that my big horse wasn’t as brave as I had hoped he would be. He didn’t want to charge forward at the fences, and even balked at some of the more plain obstacles. So as we waited in the start box, I prepared myself to ride him forward and aggressively.
Apparently that was the confidence boost Mikey needed, because he attacked every fence on course without batting an eye: up and down the bank, over the ditch, through the sunken road and into the water. Galloping through the long stretches between fences I found myself actually laughing out loud in total bliss. It was a blast.
Mikey ended up holding his place and we finished with a pretty red ribbon. I was bursting with pride of my grown-up youngster. He makes me so excited for our future, in whatever discipline that may be. I do know for sure, we’ll be back to event again.