Hippoi Athanatoi

Irish Lightning

Jumping competition today. Ringo thought we were getting ready for a dog show in the morning, and looked mildly confused when nothing came of it. He’s convinced that everyone getting up at the same hour in the morning and going somewhere by car means a dog show. No such luck today, though next Sunday its his turn.

Today, though, it was about me and Murphy. Some not so lovely showers forced us to use the indoor arena instead of the very muddy paddock. Not even Murphy, who doesn’t really mind a bit of rain (he’s from Ireland, after all), cared much for moving around in there. Once it was my turn to ride him (another girl jumped him first, in the lowest class), I managed to wake him up fairly well, though it didn’t really feel as if he would keep the speed up on his own without lots of work from me. That always makes me a little pushy, and that’s not a good combination with how I usually react to competitions.

You see, once my nerves kick into high gear, which occurs somewhere around me riding into the arena alone, I turn into a single-minded creature driven by a rush of fear-induced adrenaline. All I can think of is remember the next jump or the next part of a dressage program, and as my mind races ahead to whatever comes next, my body unfortunately tries to keep up. In short, I ride like a horse thief, both when it comes to show jumping and dressage tests. ;P

As I entered the arena today, I found Murphy suddenly more alert, and I should have taken a few deep breaths then, to remind myself that he doesn’t need to run at the speed of sound to get around this course. But then he knocked down the first practice jump, and I convinced myself he needed a lot more juice to get around the course. 80 cm is higher than what he jumps most of the time, though well within what he can do.

So ... I started the actual course, and it just went faster, and faster and faster. I didn’t actually rush him that much, but I had keyed him up to start with and then he just ran with it, and seemed to have a lot of fun. I should have realized I could actually set him back a bit, though, since he had so much momentum on his own. However, he jumped quite well, mostly getting good jump-offs and decent turns. But then we came at the second to last jump, and I think I felt as if we’d be a little off on the distance so I let him have more rein to make sure he’d manage it on his own.

He did, very nicely, but he had really sped up against that jump, and with my reins a bit long we came in weirdly on the final turn, took it way too fast and with way too little balance, and almost ended up falling. I am not quite sure how bad it was, but I think my knee got pretty close to the ground, and I remember thinking “damn, that’s it”. But then my amazing Murphy got back up, and since I was still in single-minded competition mode, I asked him to keep going towards the final jump, which he did without any hesitation. However, he couldn’t pick up enough speed, so while he jumped it (he’s such a fabulous horse), he knocked it down.

Fortunately, he seemed totally unphased and unharmed by the incident, and jumped quite nicely with another rider a little later. I was definitely kicking myself for riding the way I did, though, and not entirely pleased with my final score. It was actually a competition judged primarily on style, with deductions for knocked down rails and refusals, and I guess “horse thief” doesn’t translate to “stylish”. Though I did get an 8 out of 10 for my eye; that part has been so drilled into me that I almost overdo it. The rest was 6’s and 7’s, which I suppose is okay but not stellar.

Still, it was a fun day, even with the rain and my little mishap.

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