How did Sabra and I do in accomplishing our 2015 goals?
After competing only five out of 12 weekends, Sabra and I finished fourth out of 26 horses that competed for points (other riders and horses showed, but didn’t register their points) in the GHHJA Year-End Standings for the Itty Bitty Jumper Division.
I think we could’ve finished higher if we had competed more because we often beat the horse and rider team in third place and tied or did better than the team that finished in second on several weekends. Alas, adult amateur budget constraints!
Still, I’m super proud of how we did, and already can’t wait for next year. We’ll move up to either the schooling jumper (3′) and/or the junior/adult jumper (3’3″) divisions, depending on how we school up to the shows each weekend.
My confidence level in our ability to be competitive and place — as well as (mostly) my budget constraints — will also determine whether we make it to Pin Oak (or any other A show) or not.
I can’t express enough how much I love my little gray mare. She does everything I ask and tries her heart out, every time. We’ve spent the year really figuring out the jumper ring — when and where to turn, when to slice, when to gallop and when to collect.
Sabra has become brave and confident; she hunts the fences and you can watch her ears swivel as she listens to me, and then her ears point forward when she locks onto then next fence. She’ll jump from any distance I choose, or I can let her pick and she’ll find her own spots (usually better choices than mine). She’ll land the lead or give me auto-swaps. I only need to look in the direction we want to go for her to turn, pivot and rollback.
Most importantly, she truly loves being a jumper, and keeps getting better and better. It’s an amazing feeling to ride a horse that loves her job.
That being said, we’ve already started working for next season. Lately, I’ve been hopping in dressage lessons to try to improve Sabra’s adjustability. That way, I have more options in between fences. I want to be able to open up her stride, but then ask her to collect and come back to me quickly to make tighter turns. Right now, sometimes we can execute it, and sometimes Sabra gets too up and I lose my brakes.
We’ve been working on leg yields at the walk and trot, as well as shoulder-in, and our up and down transitions.
Currently, I feel like I have five trots to choose from: collected, medium, working, extended and stretchy. I ask for the trot, Sabra frames up and maintains. There’s a distinct difference between each trot. The canter? I have two and a half. Maybe. Sort of. I have a collected canter (that takes a lot of effort on both our parts to keep), a working, and an extended (that sometimes ends up being a hand gallop). With every step, Sabra always wants to open up her stride, so we’ve been working on developing more distinct, different canters. That’s our first goal for 2016.
Other 2016 goals include: being competitive in the bigger division and doing all the necessary homework to get there. I still want to eventually do the Low Adult Amateur Jumpers and the Take 2 Thoroughbred Jumpers, but I’ll also need to learn to budget better (especially with real-life, “#thestruggle of being a late-20s adult” events on the horizon that are for sure going to be expensive).
Motivation for the 2016 show season? New saddle pad for the jumper ring for Sabra. Thanks SmartPak!