Commitment issues

We headed back to Great Southwest Equestrian Center for the first show of the season, New Show/New Beginnings. It was cold, and I was excited that I got to use Sabra’s Christmas present, her navy fleece cooler. 🙂

Sabra in her cooler

Sabra loves her fuzzy cooler!

GHHJA | 2’6″ Itty Bitty Jumpers | GSWEC

Goals: Make tight turns and be competitive!

Well, the show overall did not go as well as expected because I had sort of high expectations. We’d been practicing tight turns, strategizing, planning every step, and then executing by riding every stride in our lessons and in our warm-up Friday night and Saturday morning. I’ve gotten much better at sticking with Sabra over the fences and waiting before sitting up — sometimes I wait a step or two too long now after she lands, which makes it harder to turn.

Saturday TFJO:

Saturday TFR:

Saturday P&S:

Our Timed First Jump-Off was good, other than the stop at the second fence. Sabra just wasn’t paying attention, and I didn’t react fast enough to kick and cluck at her so she’d go over it. If I’d reacted quicker, she could’ve gotten over it (ugly or not), and it would’ve been better. We still managed to place fourth out of nine, though, mostly because we were competing against several people who had never done jumpers before.

The Timed First Round was better because we went clean, but I didn’t make any of the turns we’d planned. Boo. It got a little sloppy in the middle when I got disorganized, but I was able to get it together, and we placed third out of nine, yippee. I keep having to remind myself that we aren’t doing hunter round — as long as you get over everything clean the first time, it doesn’t matter how it looks or how you get there. Also, there’s no need to tour the arena with sweeping wide turns and long approaches to fences.

For the Power & Speed Round, I was holding onto her face just a hair too much at the first fence, so she knocked the poles. Argh. Sabra likes contact because she wants to know you’re there, but you also have to get out of her way before and over the fence so she can jump clean. With nothing to lose, I decided I might as well practice tighter turns and a faster pace since I wasn’t going to make it to the Speed portion. Hey, guess what happens when I stop overthinking everything? Yeah, I actually ride better and Sabra goes better. We can gallop on and actually enjoy the pace, and we find better distances. What a concept. Also, please note how we flew over the last oxer — Sabra jumped it huge and I stuck with her for once, yay! Obviously, we tied for sixth out of nine in this round.

Overall, my position over fences was much better, but we still need to work on turns. I also need to work on getting more comfortable with going fast. Okay, it doesn’t look fast in the videos, but it FEELS fast. I really need to learn to stop saying, “whoa,” and instead say, “go!” We also need to work more on taking jumps at angles; we haven’t really practiced it yet, but she’ll do it if I commit to the jump.

…which leads to the title of this post and our Sunday struggles. If I commit to jumping, think, “Yes, we’re jumping” and then tell Sabra, “Jump now,” she jumps — any height, any width, from any distance, any angle, at any pace. Unfortunately, I didn’t always do that this weekend, but it was a good learning experience for us both.

Sunday TFJO:

Sunday TFR:

Sunday P&S:

Sunday, I struggled with committing; I kept second-guessing my turns, the distances and the angles. In the First Timed Jump-Off, our round started out really great and then we turned the corner, and all I thought was, “I cut this turn too tight, and she didn’t have time to see the jump,” instead of “jump anyway.” So of course she stopped and I fell off. ARGHHH. The thing is, if I had told her to jump, she would have. I’ve asked Sabra to leave from that tight of an angle off that tight of a turn several times before, and she always does. I just couldn’t get out of my own head that I didn’t set her up right, and as a result, didn’t react fast enough to correct or make the most of the situation. Super frustrating.

Obviously going into the Timed First Round, she was hesitant after what happened in our first class. Again, I didn’t send her forward soon enough, so we had the stop. After that, we improved as we went. You’ll notice several times where she hesitates — sometimes it’s her hesitating because she’s unsure, and sometimes it’s her hesitating because I’m unsure. I am super glad that 1. I recovered mentally after falling off, instead of giving up; and 2. This show was the first one where I wasn’t ever worried about the fence height.

Also in this round, I finally committed to one of the turns my trainer and I had planned, proving that we can do it when I put my mind to it! (Exhibit A: See the second-to-last jump, the stone wall, to the last jump, the green poles.) Sure, it was a little sloppy, but at least we did it — and we were the only ones to even attempt that turn. I didn’t make any of the others because at that point, I was just trying to get around without a stop, but it was good to see that we CAN do it under pressure when I keep my head in the game.

For the Power & Speed, we made it over everything, but had a couple of rails when she hesitated. This round was better, though, because even when we hesitated, I managed to react quicker, cluck and squeeze her over the fences.

Hugs for Sabra!

Hugs for Sabra!

Homework coming out of the show: Work on committing to every fence. Make decisions quicker and stick to them. Execute the plan that we talk about — turns and all — by riding every step. Become more comfortable with picking up the pace, which also means to kick my bad habit of saying, “whoa” all the time.

Luckily, the next show is not until March, so we have plenty of time to practice more! We’ll get better; I just have to remember that Sabra is still green and gains a lot of confidence from me being confident in my decisions. She’s so so so sensitive that if I second-guess myself for even a second, she becomes really unsure. So I’ll work on committing to my choices, regardless if they’re the right one or not. Better to try than not at all, right?

Update: First lesson after the show was flawless, of course. Why couldn’t I ride in the show like I did tonight? We executed every turn, sliced jumps like nobody’s business and opened up our stride. Oh well. Hopefully we’ll keep the good momentum going and be even more ready for the next one.

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