Monday, August 15, 2011

Best Show Ever!

As you can tell by the superlatives in the title, I'm about to go overboard.  Much gushing about the Sainted Bay Mare will follow, so here's your warning to either pull on your waders or abandon ship now!

Last Saturday we showed at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show in the Pre-Preliminary division.  Granted, 3' or thereabouts may be small potatoes to some, but to this re-rider it was the Holy Grail of jump heights and I had to pull on my Big Girl knickers in a big way to attempt.  We've done a LOT of work (grids, courses, clinics, THERAPY) to get comfortable here, and I think we've finally achieved a point where I don't go into the ring thinking, "Golly, those look ENORMOUS."

I did my pre-show homework. While polishing my boots I visualized successful courses.  I replayed a mental movie of my last lesson, where I'd been relaxed, soft in my elbows, and our jumping efforts had gone well. Before I went to bed I wrote down a few things to make certain I was not using negative thinking.  For example, instead of worrying if there would be a triple bar, I'd write down "Successfully jumped triple bar during lesson."  I wrote down everything I needed and then made sure it was in the car.  Then I set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier than I thought I needed to in order to give myself extra time to deal with those little emergencies that crop up. (Good thing my daughter wasn't showing; I need an extra half an hour when she shows and I was low on rack time this week.)

The morning was perfect.  It was slightly overcast, so not too hot.  I had extra time to fiddle fart around and relax over a latte and some breakfast.  I did a final check through of everything -- show clothes, boots, helmet, check book....Crap!! Tip-toed quietly back upstairs to get check book and then headed out to show.  Arrived before my trainer, had time to memorize the first two courses (all 3 would have taxed my mental processes WAAAAAYYYY too much.  Keep in mind this is progress, as I've just recently graduated from actually drawing my courses in a mini-notebook.)

When my trainer got there we had time to walk the course, take a couple of bathroom breaks (Helloooooo, middle aged with two kids!) and warm up.  Sug was incredibly relaxed.  She's not a hot horse by any stretch of the imagination, but she does get a bit "up" for shows.  She struts around, nudging everyone and generally gives off the impression that hey, a Very Important Horse Has Arrived.

My tendency to over-think things has a very common ancillary effect -- I micro-manage her and nitpick as we approach a fence, causing her to focus her attention back on me and not her job.  Which means we miss distances,
which at the very least makes her work harder and/or causes dropped rails.

Thank you.  I did wonder if you noticed that.

Yes, Sug, I did. My point here is that for the first time ever, I did not micromanage or nitpick or get stiff elbows (mostly) on Saturday.  And we had beautiful rounds.  We had consistent (for the most part) rhythm with good distances (90% of the time).  You were relaxed, I was (for me) relaxed, and I thought we had the most harmonious show experience we've ever had.  Kinda like we shared the same brain.  It was amazing. And wonderful.  And fun.  I didn't get in your way and you were relaxed and happy and able to do your job to the best of your ability. 

True.  I often wonder about that. I do not attempt to do your job.  Why is it you try to do mine?

Ummm, because I'm a Type A control freak, Sug. That's what we do.  Ceding control or sharing it with others is a big step for someone like me.

Pfffffffffttttttttttt.  Get over yourself.  I'd like a peppermint now, please.  And an Oreo.  An Oreo would be nice.  I was really very good.  A reward of some kind is in order.

Yes, Sug, you deserve a bag of peppermints.  And an Oreo.  Just the one.

Anyway, it was a very good day.  Sug wound up taking two firsts and a third, and was Grand Champion in her division.  She won a gift certificate to Dover Saddlery (Thank You, Dover!), a pretty glass jar just perfect for holding peppermints, and a VERY snazzy new cooler!  It was tremendously cool to have my picture taken with her while she was sporting her spiffy new duds and wearing her big tri-color ribbon.  I've always wanted to be like those riders I see in photos in the Chronicle of the Horse, posing with their Championship coolers.  Thanks to my wonderful Sainted Bay Mare, I am now able to cross one more thing off the bucket list.

Thanks, Mama! 

You're welcome.  May I have another Oreo?  The fried ones are quite good. And a massage?  I worked very hard.  A massage would feel very nice...


  1. Yay! I love this post! I can so relate to all of it and you totally deserve to be basking in all its glory!!!

  2. Congratulations on the big win. Your smile says it all....

  3. Applause Applause!! So porud of and happy for you. You inspire me. Crossrails watch out, here I come!!

    (Ps, Google will not let me comment)

  4. Bravo! What an exciting win! I am always paralyzed with nerves before a show, and I am coming back to it in my 40's after 15 years off to raise the kids, so everything you wrote really struck a chord with me. It sounds like you handled the mental game perfectly. Have fun shopping with your prize!

  5. How absolutely, fabulously WONDERFUL! Congratulations to both of you :oD