Well, we had a bit of an exciting weekend this week with the jumping at the local equestrian centre.
To my utter delight the horsebox behaved itself (until we got home to the yard that is but at least it was in a location causing no problems!) and started straight away both at home and at the equestrian centre! From the minute I started it I thought yay this is going positively.
Bob was a pleasure on the yard standing beautifully to be groomed, and we left in plenty of time for our class so no rushing or panicking! We had called ahead about the parking to see if it was busy like last time, and were told it wasn’t, however on our arrival 10 minutes later it was manic arggh!! I had to drive between the car parks a few times whilst my partner located some staff to see where we could go, and by this time the giant in the back had begun to get wound up and was calling, stamping and kicking the horse box (uh oh)! We were advised to park round the back by the farm which luckily only had one other trailer, but it was not in a good area as there was noise from the sports hall and farm machinery which unfortunately caused a lot more stress for my already stroppy giant wuss (horse not my partner ha!). After a battle we got him tacked up and got him round to the arena where my OH held him while I nipped back to change. On coming back round I was told the class was about to start so had to whizz round walking the course.
A bit flustered but calm I returned and took Bob to the mounting block – he was still very stressed despite the other horses and shot forward with me half on, luckily I am used to his behaviour so managed to settle him quickly. It is clear to say he was the naughtiest horse in the warm up (mainly due to stressing), with several spins, and rushing forward etc and as it was so busy we did mainly walk with minimal trotting and cantering and no jumps so he didn’t get any further upset. He did unfortunately get spooked by a few horses rushing past too close to him which caused a shoot forward followed by various leaps and spins to end with him tripping over his back feet and luckily only ending up on his bottom! Just before ‘sitting’ he did manage to propel me into a lovely cartwheel over his head to land on my feet holding his reins (Im sure I would have got at least a 9/10 for style ha!). A bit shocked but determined, after checking he was ok marched him to the mounting block, and back on I got! A few people complimented me on how well I sat the ‘incident’ and also my smooth dismount, acknowledging the spritely behaviour from the bumbling giant which did make me laugh – one of the biggest horses there and also the biggest wimp!
I kept him at a walk after that and mainly in the holding area as he found the busy warn up far too stressful, a short while after, our number was called and up we went to the main arena. Again Bob showed his progress (and also how he likes to have an arena to himself), he was a lot calmer and more focused, we approached a few fences quickly but he jumped everything well and went clear! Yay! Even despite a lost stirrup from his rider (a proud moment for me here as I lost it 3 strides out from the next fence but decided to risk it and jump without! That was brave for me considering his powerful leaps).
A slight navigation error caused by the fretting to regain my stirrup made us go the longer way to one of the fences and cost a couple of seconds which I later found out cost us a couple of places argh!!
We finished half a second off 6th place – I know it was my fault not his as he jumped his socks off! For the next class we were both calm but raring to go– this time I had no fear just excitement which was a great feeling for me considering the times he has knocked my confidence.
Again he was fast but jumped brilliantly (aside from doing a double in one stride instead of two causing me to sail through the air but luckily regain my seat just before the next fence), but unfortunately we had the one fence down which was annoying - if it had stayed up we would have won the class, as the judge told my OH that Bob was the only one to get into the 30 second bracket! We did however still manage a placing and came 6th which made me very pleased as he did work hard in both rounds.
Looking back at the videos and comparing them to a year or two ago the progress really shows, with our turns being better, and the positions being more consistent and we now jump together with no battles. I am so proud how far we have come and from now on will be concentrating on the bigger classes and working our way up! It was also lovely at the show to speak to a few others I had seen at training events who remembered Bob and people from previous shows (it did make me chuckle they remembered Bob- he has such a reputation haa!) as well as catching up with Katie from Equesure on her outing with her newest boy 😊