“ Control the Controllables”
Unfortunately Amber was not one of the controllables today!
But let’s start at the beginning: This was my first BE90. So I was nervous but after an awesome Fab Feb full of some really challenging clinics I actually felt ready. There was no reason why any of it should be a disaster. We have worked very hard on our flat work, she has been so much more rideable show jumping and she’s been doing plenty of big and technical XC lines. We were good to go.
It started fairly promisingly with a calm dressage warm up. She was actually listening, relaxed and engaged. That’s a first! And the first half of the test felt really nice. She felt calm and relaxed. Then in the 2nd canter something spooked her. And after that she was just a little bit tense so we had a break in the canter, a late transition to trot, a jog in the walk, a poor final centre line. All of which will have been very expensive. No test sheet but I am hoping that it was basically very good (for us) and then very bad! Leaving us on a disappointing 40 overall. But my dressage instructor has told me not to worry about scores at the moment– we are looking at direction of travel and a very good then very bad set of marks is far better than a blah set all the way through. I know we are not yet consistent but it’s looking promising…..
So now for the fun bit. SJ & XC on a calm, relaxed & listening Amber– no worries. This will be a breeze.
Ha bloody ha…..
Somehow between the dressage ending and me heading to the SJ warmup Amber morphed into Crazy-Orange-Beastie mode. I went down to the SJ warm up in a snaffle as I have been riding both SJ and XC in a snaffle all winter. But as soon as we hit the arena she was absolutely bonkers. And I had no idea what to do about it. I was in theory focusing on getting her into a nice rhythmical balanced canter. Show jumping is just dressage with obstacles and all that. But she had other ideas and every canter just turned into her bogging off with me. So I tried to canter-halt-canter-halt to get her listening. But that didn’t help much. So I tried to pop a X Pole which she ballooned. So I went back to the lorry to put her in a gag bit. Which meant I could stop her better but as soon as I released the brakes she tanked off again. Jumped the X pole a few more times but she never settled so put her at bigger fences but she ballooned all them too. So I just crossed my fingers, rode in and flattened the course! It was a total car crash. By far the worst round we have ever jumped in training or competition. Plus she was jumping so extravagantly that my saddle slipped on landing from fence 3 and I was almost off and had to do the rest of the course sideways. Not our finest moment. 16 faults and 12 time pens from circling to try and settle her. And get my stirrups back. Thanks for that Amber!!!
Really not sure why that happened to be honest. But looking at the video (and no I am not brave enough to post my humiliating car crash of a round anywhere….) I think I was too afraid of her galloping on that I did not have my leg on at all. The round went a bit like: jump – land – bog off, come back to trot, oh no there’s another jump, kick on, flatten it, land, bog off, come back to trot. Repeat. It was embarrassingly awful. I wonder if I had kept my leg on and ridden forward she might have eventually settled into a canter rhythm. But she just was not rideable. Not by me anyway. Back to the drawing board!
I went straight down to XC after SJ and she was jogging and excitable but thankfully once we were out on the XC she felt great. She seemed to be saying FINALLY I get to gallop and jump. Why can’t I do this ALL the time?! It was my first BE90 so there were a few questions – related distances to skinnies, a jump into space on the brow of a hill. Nothing too terrifying. But she did have a stop at the water which is about the only thing she is a little wary of. On the approach there was a fairly sizeable hanging log which looked like it went straight into the water so she decided she needed a look at that. But she popped it 2nd time and flew everything else.
And I did not go wrong! In any phase!! HURRAH. Now that is a triumph in itself.
So yet another cricket score. But in the words of Matthew Syed the key to success is a progressive attitude to failure. Failure is our greatest teacher – providing the information you need to improve. As long as you embrace it as an opportunity to learn.
Well my fledgling BE career is giving me a LOT of failure practice…… which is good, right?!