After a VERY cold grid work lesson yesterday I was really not relishing the prospect of a Sunday morning 6am start in order to take D to his first ever show jumping competition, so it was with many layers of clothing, and a glove box full of ‘lorry snacks’ that D and I set off for West Wilts Equestrian Centre’s mini unaffiliated show jumping. Driving through the early morning darkness I consoled myself with a snickers and radio 4 for company as I had not managed to persuade a single soul to accompany me, I wonder why? was it the -2 temperature that was putting them off?…
We arrived with lots of time so I was just about to embark on a quick bit of last minute tack cleaning when the lorry decided to freeze the tack locker shut! I poured hot water over the locks and tried with all my (not so mighty) might to pull the door open, but it wasn’t budging!!! Just as I was about to freak out a car and trailer pulled up next to me, and the lady inside had one of those ever useful ‘multi purpose husbands’ and he managed to heave the frozen door open, phew!
We went into the warm up and D was a little tight across his back, but thankfully he didn’t find the pony being lunged that exciting at all, in fact all morning he didn’t blink once at the antics of multiple hairy whizzy ponies and their accompanying entourage. He did see fit to buck on every single canter transition though (which is new) but this I worked out was just his subtle way of saying ‘I don’t like cantering with my 1/4 sheet on it tickles!’ He jumped the little practise fences sweetly and so in we went for a clear round.
He didn’t boggle at the indoor arena, the ponies or any of the general hubbub going on. We went in and he jumped a green but honest clear round over the staggeringly dizzy heights of 55cms! I needed to work his neck more in order to get him more manoeuvrable and so I went back out into the warm up and worked him for about 20mins really concentrating on getting soft neck flexion, active hind legs, and not allowing him to fall in/out with his right shoulder. Once he was going well, we went back in for another clear round, and this time he jumped much better just tipping the planks because I didn’t manage get him straight on the approach.
Next we entered the 55cm class and in this they built more little spreads, and a double. This was his best round, he popped into canter a few times and he jumped a line of 3 fences really nicely using his neck and back. At no point did he try to whizz off after the fence, or stiffen with resistance, and he was clear so I was very pleased. Lots of pats and some super sized carrots were administered. We didn’t do the jump off because it didn’t seem worth hanging about to do 4 more fences in such cold weather.
He was a total pro all day, easy to handle and do ‘on your tod’, which is a real bonus. He stood like an old hand in the collecting ring waiting for his turn and he didn’t flinch at all the zooming ponies, tannoy, music, or exceptionally loud starter’s bell!
I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better performance (well if I was being picky he could lay off the bucks next time!) now we just need to work on the extension and collection within the canter so we can work towards cantering a whole round. All in all a very educational if bloomin’ freezing day out.