Schooling jumper debut

For our first show of the season, we returned to Pine Hill for the first time in two years. After debating for the past month or two between doing the schooling jumpers (3′) or the junior/adult jumpers (3’3″), we decided to play it safe and do the schooling jumpers.

Special thanks to the bf for videoing my rounds and to my barn friends for taking photos! Of course, thanks to all who came out and cheered us on this weekend.

GHHJA | 3′ Schooling Jumpers | Pine Hill

Goals: Strategize, make a plan, and then execute it, including turns!

Saturday's Timed First Jump Off Course

Saturday’s Timed First Jump Off

Warming up on Friday, Sabra felt really good. We kept the schooling really short – just walked, trotted, and cantered each direction for a few laps, and then hopped over each jump once. The fences were set to 2’6 – 2’9″, and Sabra was bold and brave to each fence, so we stopped with that.

On Saturday, we again kept our warm up really short. The last jump we did, however, was a 3’3″ oxer with a decent size spread. Trainer said Sabra tucked her knees and then tucked them even tighter over the top, just to make sure she cleared it. It was a great jump, but I was glad at that point that we opted to do schooling instead of junior/adult — I need more practice learning how to stick such a big effort from Sabra.

Timed First Jump Off:

Our first course went well, and we won first out of seven! Sabra listened well and I stayed with her better. I still need to tighten my turns, but it was a good effort for our first time in this division, and it showed we can be competitive.

Saturday's Timed First Round

Saturday’s Timed First Round

Timed First Round:

In our second course, we placed third out of seven. Again, we needed to tighten our turns and I need to let Sabra go! I was way too slow and spent too much time worrying about going fast, balancing, turning, finding the distance to each fence, etc. Sabra balances herself and finds her own distances as long as I stay out of her way and let her open up her stride. Plus, she’s petite, so I need to learn that it’s okay to go fast.

Power & Speed:

Saturday's Power & Speed

Saturday’s Power & Speed

The video is missing the first few jumps, oops. Anyway, I really should’ve won this class, but I was so relieved after clearing the brick oxer that I kind of forgot about the last jump and then misjudged the turn. I got totally discombobulated about not executing the plan, we jumped a cone on accident, and then finally circled back to the last jump.

We got fourth out of seven, darn! I could’ve gotten champion or reserve if I had navigated this course correctly, but I didn’t straighten Sabra enough in front of the oxer, so we had a rail and then well, yeah.

Sunday didn’t go as well as Saturday. We warmed up fine, and we even worked on tight rollback turns, where I cantered in one direction, spun Sabra on her haunches to change directions, and then she gives me the flying change. After figuring that out (finally!) and executing it successfully a few times, we felt ready to go in the ring.

Sunday's Timed First Jump Off

Sunday’s Timed First Jump Off

Timed First Jump Off:

Unfortunately, we had a stop in the first class. I wasn’t carrying a crop and the jump took Sabra a little by surprise. No one’s fault, but I know with a crop she won’t think twice about anything. Oh well.

The course before the stop was going okay. Cathy thought maybe my reins were a bit too short and I was catching Sabra when we landed. After the stop, she hopped over the jump easily. She was a little iffy to the last two, but I closed my leg and clucked, and she went.

Timed First Round:

Sunday's Timed First Round

Sunday’s Timed First Round

The second class went much better, although we were still too slow! We placed third out of six. I loosened my reins an inch or two, and Sabra felt much bolder and back to her forward, eager self.

Again, I had the same issues as the previous day. I needed to let Sabra naturally open up her stride so she could find the distances better and we could make up time. I also needed to hold onto my outside rein and close my outside leg so she would make tighter turns instead of swinging wide.

Power & Speed:

Sunday's Power & Speed

Sunday’s Power & Speed

Finally, we started to correct the mistakes from our previous rounds and put it all together, except I held a bit too long and didn’t release the reins quite quickly enough, so Sabra clipped the top pole of the first jump with her toes. Boo.

On the plus, side, I had a HUGE light bulb moment — I finally figured out how to turn! See the turn and short approach to the black rails with the pink flowers? Where she straightens instead of swinging wide with her shoulders? Yeah, that’s what I was supposed to be doing all along. It’s what I thought I was doing…until I watched all the videos and saw the difference. When I made that turn, I felt the difference, too. She felt even more balanced, forward and light in the bridle, and as a result, we got an even better distance and better jump. I didn’t feel like I was still having to pick her up, hold her, and balance her to the point where I ran out of time before the jump like I normally do. YAY!

If nothing else, at least I got that light bulb moment out of this weekend.

Homework coming out of the show: Continue working on turns now that I know what they’re supposed to feel and look like. Prepare for the next show: the Fiesta Classic in May! It’ll be our first A show, yippee. We’re still trying to decide which classes I should show in, but now we have a good benchmark on how prepared we are.

In the meantime, I’ve registered Sabra for all the things! She’s already lifetime registered with GHHJA, but now I’ve registered her with: USEF, USHJA, TIP, and Take 2. Thoroughbred classes here we come!


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