Our first jumper show was yesterday. And boy, what a show. Many lessons were learned, primarily:
1.) Check your freaking girth.
2.) Check your freaking girth again.
3.) Did you check your freaking girth?
4.) No really… did you?
The day started off with Ollie and Phoenix (his show buddy for the day) happy to see me and Sarah at the barn. All the horses thought they were getting early breakfast. SInce we were showing so early, I only gave him half his breakfast. He thought I was the meanest mom in the world. But everything went as scheduled, and we arrived at the horse park a little after 7:30, with plenty of time for me to tack up, learn my courses and warm up for my 8:30ish start time.
But I committed everything to memory, announced to the ring people that OH MY GOD IT WAS MY FIRST JUMPER SHOW, AND PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GO FIRST, tacked up and started to warm up. Ollie was just ever-so-gently loping around the warm-up ring like a beautiful hunter (seriously? You couldn’t be like this when you were ACTUALLY A HUNTER? Dressage, people. Dressage. It’s for everyone). Then, it was time to go over some warm-up jumps. I turn down the middle to head to the little vertical, and I gave him entiiiiiirely too much time to think during the approach. The one extremely predictable aspect of Ollie’s pea-brain psyche is that if you give him too long to focus on one task, he starts to make up his little devious games. Well. He started to pull right, and I pulled and kicked left to get him to head toward the actual jump. It got to the point where we were going to crash into the standard, so I bailed and tried to get him to go around. Only he had a change of heart and wanted to try to go for it. I got slightly off balance, and started to slightly right myself.
Only something happened. My saddle decided to take a vacation on Ollie’s belly. And my body decided to go for a nice dive to the left along with it. Hello dirt. Nice to see ya, old friend. My butt got the brunt of the landing, but some people hanging around said I hit my head pretty hard – thank god for helmets! So there I was, not knowing whether to cry or get pissed at myself, and Ollie just hovering over me asking if I was OK (SWEET BOY). And there was the saddle with a loose-ass girth just taunting me. And wouldn’t you know it – I also snapped my goddamn crop in half on the way down. Or with my ass. I don’t know which.
Let this be a lesson to you all. When your horse loses at least 150 lbs. after switching barns and disciplines, MAYBE THINK ABOUT GETTING A NEW SHOW GIRTH. I think I’m going to produce an after-school special about this. It might be called Tragedy In Conyers.
Medic was called, and everyone came to the collective conclusion that I was going to live. I got up, my sweet husband Bora helped dust me off, and I hobbled out of the warm-up ring, Ollie in tow.
Sarah: “What do you want to do?”
Now, few-months-ago Me would have said this:
But instead, this essentially happened:
“OK, hand me my number while I think about it.”
::puts number on::
Sarah: “You can maaaaaaybe go in your warm-up and just trot some stuff, see how you feel. And totally just come out if you need to. No big deal.”
And then something happened again. My balls grew another three sizes that day. Now, I am pretty sure I have a full testicle that has dropped.
So I watched some more warm-ups and asked myself who the hell I was and what pod person stole my brain, and the gate person asked me if I was ready to go in. Ready? Ready? JESUS, LADY, I WASN’T EVER GOING TO BE READY! But I just said okaaaaaaaaaaay! And went in.
I started out at a trot. And I honestly can’t remember how much I cantered in my warm-up. But I made it around all the jumps. With only one snafu: I totally gave up on getting Ollie to one jump he was Gumbying on, and we had to circle back around. As I did so, I growled and said super loudly, “GOD….. BLESS AMERICA!!” My favorite cussing euphemism that Ollie has grown to know and love. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I heard later that laughter erupted around the arena. Glad to entertain.
But we got back over that jump, finished the course, and I nearly cried when we finished. But I was so shocked at what I had done that I was just dumbfounded into silence. And then the applause erupted around the ring. I felt like goddamn Miss America. Everyone was happy for the weenie newbie who somehow found the balls to get back on. It was a beautiful moment, and I am nearly crying right now just thinking about it.
So then I was feeling better. And then in a few minutes I went in for my actual round, and my next lesson learned was STEP ON THE GAS, LADY. I didn’t give him nearly enough trotting into that first jump, and we pulled a rail. BUT IT WAS OUR ONLY RAIL! I think pulling it then made me relax and forget about remembering the freaking jumpoff. Which was great, because we totally got lost. Twice.
“WHERE AM I GOING????”
Luckily, sweet Sarah had memorized my course along with hers and told me where to go. I think Ollie knew I was lost and was kind of annoyed by it. It was like when your GPS tells you in that bitchy voice: “RECALCULATING.” Jesus, GPS lady, get over yourself. So, we ended up trantering the course. Or can-otting. With large sweeping turns to make a junter course. I like to bastardize things.
Anyway, so we finished, and I felt relieved. And proud. Ollie was SUCH A GOOD BOY during my round. I don’t know if he felt sorry for me, or we actually HAVE made that much progress and he respects me more. But he totally took care of me, and I love my horse more now than ever. You can watch the whole janky round here:
Then it was my turn to talk Sarah into continuing on with her course when Phoenix was a bit up in the warm-up ring. But I convinced her that he just hates warm-up rings, and it turned out that I wasn’t lying. THEY ROCKED and got a 5th place out of a very competitive class of 13.
And me? I had the pants shocked off of me that I managed to get a 6th. The ribbon gods were looking out for me to beat two actual people with my junter round of trantering. When they called my number, I totally did a weird dance and annoyed people.
In the end, I was proud of myself for finding my balls. Of Ollie behaving like a gentleman. Of Sarah and Phoenix for rocking. And of myself again for riding with sand in my crack. When we got home, I hung that beautiful green ribbon on Ollie’s stall door. But I pushed it a bit to the side – I have to leave room for the next ones.
A giant thanks to Morgan for taking photos and video!!