June 23, 2014

Show Jumping: A Tale of Two Connors

Connor and I had a lot to put behind us on Sunday morning.  Like, the previous night's tornado warning and thunderstorm:

Not what you want to see heading for tent stabling.

which resulted in some Novice competitors galloping about a mile from XC warmup and hiding in the indoor, which was set up for the competitors' party (sponsored by Whole Foods, mmm mmm):

Those horses were saints.

And, no pictures of this, but I arrived on Sunday morning to find our aisle totally trashed - my little plastic tack trunk flipped over, my show pads stepped on, Connor's breakfast eaten, a haybale totally destroyed.  A competitor's horse had gotten out and had a party.

But, the course looked fun and easy, and we got right to work in the warmup.  It was the first time that Connor got a little flustered with horses coming up behind and around him, very chaotic, but he held it together and we were jumping beautifully.  Seeing distances, focused on each other, taking 2'6 oxers like they were nothing.  We were eating them up!  I was ready.

...and then we got in the ring itself, and Connor's little brain just completely melted out of his ears.  Not one single gerbil left up there.

Trainer: "You rode really well for him only giving you about 30% of his brain cells."

It was a new place, a much smaller ring than our usual haunts, and people had lined the ring to watch the first few rides go to see how the course was riding.  Connor lost his marbles.  But he jumped well, despite skittering to one side and then the other as we approached every fence.

This picture pretty much sums up the round.

We ended up having a rail at 2, and it was entirely my fault.  He jumped like a wild man at 1, then we rolled back to 2 on the rail, and he broke and I picked up the canter too close to the fence and he was cross-cantering, but I had no time to fix it.  He clipped it with a hind foot, no wonder.  But if we had trotted, he almost certainly would have refused in the state of mind he's in (too much time to think about things other than the fence) and I'd much rather have a rail than a refusal.

The offending fence 2

While the rail took me out of the ribbons (and who cares, this being both horse and rider's first BN!  I was just thrilled to complete it!), the round was very valuable to me.

- The height, 2'7, is no big deal to me or him.  That feels amazing.
- Just two months ago, his brain was like this in Dressage.  I need to work on ways to slow time down for his brain in the actual ring for SJ, knowing he's going to be foot-perfect in schooling and warmup.
- Don't jump from a cross-canter.
- He is going to go over whatever I point him at, and he'll clear it, even if it's not pretty.
- I need to use the same techniques I use for Dressage to get his focus on me and cut through his mental chaos.

So proud!

I'll have video from this in a few days!


  1. Despite the hiccups, it sounds like you had a very productive round!

    1. It really was. We were there to finish it and learn and we did both.

  2. Congrats on having a good round! Yay Connor :)

  3. Congrats on your first BN! Sounds like you both did really well!

  4. Congrats! Still a great ending despite the rail.

  5. Yay for you!!! One of those pictures looks very familiar :) Comrade did something similar.

  6. Congrats on finishing on a number and not a letter for your first BN :) I understand the disappointment but totally agree with you that you should be proud! It will only get better with more miles!

    1. Thanks! Yes, it definitely will. I really did not know if we would finish XC or not, so it feels like an accomplishment.

  7. Despite some hiccups, it sounds like you handled it all very, very well!

  8. Jumping well while losing one's marbles is a good skill to have!

  9. Congrats to you both! What an awesome first go!

  10. Congrats on a successful first BN event!

  11. Super job Jen! You held it together and powered thru!

  12. Hi Jen,

    I am an equestrian novelist soon to release my new racing romance, Share and Share Alike, and was hoping you might consider reviewing it on your site. Drop me a message if you’re interested.

    Best wishes,

    Hannah Hooton

  13. Congrats on a successful finish!

    To help with showjumping: Have a warm up plan that you always use. One I like is to do some long and low - then have a good forward canter around the ring in a light 2 point. Then walk break, then jump the x, then the vertical, then the oxer. If all go well I leave it at that and then when the rider before me goes in - I take the same type of fence as the first fence is - one more time off the rein that you will go off once in the ring.

    Having a routine will help instill confidence, and always leave your issues in the warm up ring. Having a warm up method can really help you out on show day.

  14. You go girl! Way to kick on and get the job done! :)