Well…This time last year I entered my first ever round of show jumping in a 60cm nervous and novice class. I trotted the whole way round, as cantering around corners used to terrify me… you never know, we could tip over! Now I have just done my first ODE!
I had been feeling really nervous about the ODE all week and just the thought if it – particularly the cross country – made my tummy turn! I spent Saturday learning my test, cleaning my tack and walking the cross country course all of which added to my nerves!
I woke up extra early on Sunday morning, but the idea of staying in bed where I would be safe was appealing! I counted to 3 and jumped out of bed.
Let’s do this!!
My first job was to get Jack ready and as many of you know, owning a horse with white bits can be quite stressful, particularly if your horse is like Jack Sparrow and enjoys rolling in poo! Scrubbed to the edge of his life, plaited (thank you Vic) and fluffy bits trimmed (thank you again Vic). We were loaded and ready to go!
We arrived in plenty of time to glorious sunshine! I quickly registered, then it was time to see how many poo stains Jack had managed to acquire on the way. To my amazement he was super clean, apart from one small mark on his bottom! Just a quick bit of chalk on his legs finished him off. My husband then thought it was a good time to put chalky handprints on Jack’s orange bits – he was wrong! Nerves and practical jokes do not mix!
After a quick change and tack up it was time to head to the dressage! This is Jack’s least favourite part of the day and my least practiced part. It was quite a long walk to the arenas, which gave me time to collect my nervous thoughts. Will I remember the test? Will we break in canter? Quick warm up – I never know what I should do, so I trotted and cantered as if I knew what I was doing! Then the lady called my number and we headed down. There is so much to think about….where to go, transitions, roundness, impulsion and again where to go! We finished the test and despite sweating and having the driest mouth ever, I actually enjoyed it! No idea how it went at this point but most importantly… WE DID IT!
Back to the trailer for a much needed drink of squash and the addition of boots and martingale to get Jack ready for show jumping! This is my most confident one of the three, as we have done quite a lot recently, mostly at 80cm. We started to warm up over a cross pole and straight away I felt that Winter Jack (dragging me to the jumps) had been replaced with Summer Jack (a little less enthusiastic) so I knew I was going to have to get him going. A little pep talk from Vic was needed here! We went into the round and jumped the first one in a less than pretty way! Then got going better over 2, 3, 4 and 5. Number 6 was the double, which we touched but luckily it stayed up We completed the rest of round clear and within the time! I was pleased but felt like we should have gone round better, but… WE DID IT!
Now… onto the cross country! I was so nervous which was made worse by our less than desirable SJ round. I got changed quickly and decided to go straight there. I entered the warm up and turned Jack towards a jump and to my relief he flew towards it and cleared it well! Phew! I did a couple more then I was ready to go! We stood in the start box ready !
From that moment I felt so determined to do our best with my ‘we are going’ mantra in my head. We flew over the first two, got our feet a bit tangled and a clatter at 3, over 4, 5 (the scariest one) and continued over the rest until the end!
We went clear! I was so happy! That feeling of absolute love and respect for your horse for keeping you safe and giving their all! WE DID IT!
I had such am amazing day and felt proud that WE DID IT! We finished 6th which was a bonus! As I am a teacher, I naturally want to think of ways to improve, so I have given myself some targets!
1. Enter my next event NOW while I have the buzz!
2. School Jack more at least once a week.
3. To do more canter work so we can go a bit faster next time!
Thank you to everyone who has helped me to get this point, as I often need a shove in the right direction!
Sharon & Jack Sparrow