Years ago, when I first started care leasing Murray, an adult rider whom I really respect told me that 8 is the magic age for horses. For Murray and I, 8 is pretty fucking magic. This is the year that everything is coming together, that all of our hard work is being reflected in out performance away from home as well as at home. I can feel myself riding better and thinking more, and Murray is doing the same! It is just the coolest feeling. I am so in love with eventing and showing now — I’m already desperately trying to figure out how I can squeeze the budget to get to more shows this year.
I have a collection of disorganized thoughts that didn’t totally fit in the other posts — or I didn’t think about them in time to write about them — from last weekend.
We’ll start with the big one first — we are so ready to move up. I told myself, and several friends, that if Murray and I went clear and within the time at this show, we’d move up to Novice at our next show. Even though we didn’t go clear, we’re totally ready to move up. Murray and I have been jumping Novice height at home for a while now, and while we haven’t done very many schooling outings or full-ish size courses at that height, I know all of the fences at Novice at the facilities I’m familiar with are well within our capabilities. A big part of my decision to keep us down at BN for so long (just three short years, nothing really!) was my own ability to ride and make decisions under pressure. I don’t have the ability to wing it at shows, I really need to know what I’m doing, and I don’t (yet) have the kind of horse where I could bumble around at anything above intro. I wanted to set the two of us up for success before this move, and I finally feel like we’re ready to be successful at Novice — and set our sights on training!
We had so much fun!! In the past, horse shows have been fun but fairly stressful. But this entire weekend we had fun, and the level of stress was low — and not just because we kept expectations low the whole time. It was just fun in general! I’m sure this will change as we move up, but I think I’ve finally managed to reach a place of zen about showing. Ultimately, I can only control how I ride and respond to my own performance. I can’t control whether or not Murray has a bug up his butt that day, how he feels about the footing, or whether or not the footing is any good. I can’t control what the judge thinks of us, how other people ride, or where we place in the pack. I can only prepare him as best I can before hand, set him up for a good ride, and ride my heart out. If I did all of that, what else is there to feel but happiness*?
Showing happy is SO MUCH BETTER than showing stressed. I have more to say about that but… basically, gonna try to hold on to this mentality for as long as I can in the future.
Showing has also become so much more routine for us. I didn’t forget to pack anything this time (okay, I forgot my Mango Bay belt, but I got a loaner), and I gave myself plenty of time before my rounds to tack up and get shit done. I didn’t need people holding my horse for me, or helping with my vest, I planned it all out, and got it done in advance. Murray was great for tacking up too! Which always makes me happy. It’s a great feeling not to be stressed out because you’re missing stuff or running late for your ride time.
You know what else feels AMAZING at shows? Actually being able RIDE during your rides. For me, being able to respond to what’s happening during a dressage test and adjust for better movement is huge! I have been a passenger for so long, but now I can add bend or inside leg, or actually ask Murray to come through his back more without having to use an entire movement to reset. I’m pretty happy that I’ve developed that skill as a rider.
My horse is also plenty fit right now. We ran fast(ish), and not over a short course (1900 m), and Murray came off course barely sweating or breathing hard. And on Sunday he was fresh and ready to go over the fences, there was no fatigue there. I know that this is hardly a feat at beginner novice, but it made me feel good that my pony was more than adequately prepared for the event. I had tons of fun “getting fit” for the event, doing gallops at WSS, and hopefully I can keep those up this summer!
My partnership with Murray and our trust bank are so strong right now. I first felt the weight of all the deposits I’ve been making in the last few years at Twin, when he totally took care of me. And, as I predicted, when we were both there for the ride, things went even better! Even better, we continue to grow as a team at an amazing rate! It’s super cool to feel the progress we are making right now. We are both in such a good place to learn, from one another and our trainers, and grow our partnership. And it really feels like that — a partnership.