Ups and downs

The saddle fitter came out a month ago, and made a HUGE difference. She basically re-flocked my saddle from scratch because the balance was totally off. The way the previous fitters were adjusting it, she said, were never going to be a permanent fix. She was by far the most knowledgeable fitter, and evaluated my goals and Sabra’s build. She noted that my saddle is great for flatwork because it sits a little deep, but we might have trouble once the fences get bigger than 3′ because the seat is a little deep and Sabra has a short back. She overall loved Sabra’s compact build with her well-formed topline, hind-end (especially her gaskins) and shoulder. Her adjustments to my saddle have made a HUGE difference in my riding, and this fitter I’m definitely sticking with. Finally!

Anyway, we’ve been schooling tight turns lately and have just started to get good at them, so I was feeling optimistic about the horse show. Also, I’ve started making some minor adjustments to my position, such as sitting back more and picking up my hands, and I think it’s helped a lot in getting Sabra to shift her weight back.

GHHJA | 2’6″ Itty Bitty Jumpers | GSWEC

Goals: Execute the turns. Let Sabra find her own distances. Know when to let her open up her stride and when to collect.

Friday afternoon, Sabra and I schooled decently well in a crazy busy schooling ring. There wasn’t much we could work on, other than making sure she went over everything. Mostly we just tried not to run into/over anyone, haha!

My division was huge — 24 riders — and my trainer put us in the last rotation so people wouldn’t see our turns and steal our strategy. It was all fine and dandy, except: (1) the footing was deep after the 75+ trips that went before me; and (2) it started to get cold, windy and pouring rain. Sabra didn’t care about the weather change, but we kept our warm-up short anyway. It’s good to test how much/little warm-up we need; in this case, I think we were ready, but it might have done us good to jump one or two more just to wake up Sabra a bit more.

Our Timed First Jump-Off went well, and we placed third. I jumped the last jump of the jump-off without a stirrup, so there’s that. I could’ve made my rollback a bit tighter from the first to the second jump, and then really opened her up from the fourth to the fifth, but all in all, I was happy with the round. She did slip a bit on one of the turns, which should’ve been my clue that the next class was going to be rough.

Our Timed First Round started out well, and then as I asked her to rollback through the turn, I felt her feet slide out from underneath her. HUGE stumble, tripping, recovering, tripping again, me letting my reins go to let her catch her own balance, me getting jostled, me falling off. Ugh, oh well. Not her fault or mine, and at least we recovered well enough to play again.

I felt confident enough to go back in without schooling a little, so we went back in for the Power & Speed. This round wasn’t bad, but I rode a little conservatively after our bad slip in the previous class. Still, we managed to place fourth, so not bad. It’s nice to know that even when I ride conservatively, we can still be competitive.

On Sunday, our rounds were much better, and I felt my position was a lot more secure — no getting jostled when she turned quickly or getting left behind over the jumps. The classes were still big with 21 riders each.

The Timed First Jump Off was going so well until I let her get a little flat to the first jump of the jump-off and she got lazy with her front feet. Whoops. Otherwise, we probably/most likely would’ve placed.

For the Timed First Round, unfortunately no one got it on video, but we placed fourth. We started off a little sluggish going up to the first jump, mostly because I was trying to be too careful because I didn’t want her to knock the rails again. After that, we picked up the pace and made decent turns.

Finally, we put it all together and won the Power & Speed! Looking back at the video, there are still places where we could’ve tightened up our turns, but I’m really happy we ended on a good note.

Homework coming out of the show: Continue working on turns, Sabra’s adjustability, sticking with her when she takes the long spots and jumping bigger fences. Continue working on sitting up/back and picking up my hands to help balance Sabra. As the year winds down, we’ll start raising the fences so we can work on moving up for next year. Yay!

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