To jumper land we go!

Last weekend, we went to our last show of the year, Fall Harvest/Fall Finale, at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. It was Sabra’s first time in the jumpers, second time at GSWEC and third GHHJA show.

We’d been practicing jumpers for a little less than a month, mostly on turns and adjustability with main trainer and new assistant trainer, P (who just moved from Spain and whose riding is drool-worthy). So, our plan was to have a good, fun first outing and set a benchmark for next year when we can actually be competitive.

GHHJA | 2’6″ Itty Bitty Jumpers | GSWEC

Goals: Get around the jumper ring clean. Open up Sabra’s strides, but bring her back enough to make jumper-y turns. Stick with her when she takes the long spots. Have fun!

Sabra schooled well on Friday, as she always does. It’s weird because I’m always a little nervous driving to the facility, tacking up, etc., but as soon as I ask her to canter, the nerves go away. There’s just something rhythmical about her canter (and her timing her breathing to her step) that is really soothing.

Sabra Nov GHHJA IBJ

Anyway, Sabra warmed up well Saturday morning, and we had the chance to see one rotation go so I could get an idea of what we were supposed to do! My trainer and I talked strategy — what turns she was going to ask us to do, what turns she would ask us to do eventually (but we weren’t ready for yet) and what was a competitive round vs. I-just-want-to-get-around round looked like.

Then, it was my turn:

Saturday TFJO: http://youtu.be/Z7KFNMEJjG8

Saturday TFR: http://youtu.be/VMid5jtmRP0

Saturday P&S: http://youtu.be/PULkSFHqh_Q

In the Timed First Jump-Off, the stop was my fault. I never gave Sabra a chance to see the oxer at the end, and was a little hesitant in front of it. If I have even the slightest bit of doubt, she hesitates. Most of the time, I suck it up and add leg again and then she makes a good effort, but I didn’t react fast enough. Bleh. The Timed First Round was better, and we placed fifth out of 18! For the Power & Speed, we misread the course and forgot the last jump. Whoops! It otherwise would’ve been a pretty good round, I think.

Sunday, the classes were even bigger — 21 riders. Again, she warmed up well, and we decided to be less conservative than we were the day before. Every time I came out of the ring, I kept saying, “We were flying! That was so fast! It felt so fast!” and my trainer kept saying, “Too conservative. That wasn’t fast enough. Go faster,” haha.

Sunday TFJO: http://youtu.be/RnbZ80M_Q4o and http://youtu.be/2m_GikRK26k

Sunday TFR: http://youtu.be/471fE71PFbM

Sunday P&S: http://youtu.be/qn-K59zCjcc

The Timed First Jump-Off went well, and we ended up fourth! There was one point after the two-stride where she almost lost me through the turn, but ran back underneath me to save my butt — that’s a good mare for you. 🙂 During the Timed First Round, I got braver and asked Sabra to open up her stride. She had a blast, totally loved it! The more I asked her to go forward, the happier she went and easier she was to ride. It became really fun! I also stopped worrying about the distances, let her pick her own spots and as a result, stuck with her better, even when she took the long ones. The Timed First Round went well, but I didn’t think fast enough to make sharp enough turns and shave corners. In the Power & Speed, again, the stop was my fault. I was off balance (to the right), was holding onto my inside rein (old habits die hard), and she felt it and stopped basically to save my butt. Such a good mare.

Sabra Nov GHHJA IBJ-2

We walked back to the barn, and Sabra was SO proud of herself — she was all puffed up and had a pep in her step. Love my girl!

Homework coming out of the show: Stay low over the fences until we land. Stick with Sabra when she jumps big. Work on thinking ahead to make tighter turns.

All in all, I’m really excited for next year’s show season. Sabra has come SO far, and my trainer and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how much progress she’s made. Every time we ask her for more, she rises to the challenge and has so much heart.

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