Thursday 14 August 2014

Confidence Level : MAXIMUM

In keeping with the 'less two point, more fun' theme we seem to be having this summer, our ride last night was fairly unstructured. The back story to the more relaxed atmosphere is that the barn is currently running at half speed for the summer. Lots of people are away competing, the lesson horses are getting a bit of a break, and the instructors are taking some vacation time. Wednesday nights are currently the only lessons.

Tonight, it was decided we'd do team relay jump offs. I was admittedly confused by this, but the concept is actually simple. We were given a partner and a course of twelve jumps. You have to jump the course in the correct order, but who jumps what portion(s) of it is up to your team. Fastest time wins. I'm horrible at remembering courses, so to be told I need to remember the course, but only jump some parts of it was doubly hard. I was pretty sure we were going to lose based on my navigation skills alone :) I was also feeling a little intimidated because the other riders in the group are definitely more advanced than me. I was aware of being the partner no one was going to want to end up with, and was reminded that I'd need to try to be brave and canter ALL the fences and gallop in between them lol.

I needn't have worried - Checkers and I came through and our team won the first round! Go Checkers! There was room for improvement, though - my rollback was sloppy and we got a bit bogged down coming out of the turn. I also timed my last line a little funny and ended up in a less than optimal place to start and wasted a couple of seconds. On to round two!
Number 1 Checkers warming up for round 2. Just kidding, it's her stunt double -a mystery horse from one of our trips to Vancouver.

Checkers had the idea by now, and was doing what she does best - flying! She NAILED the rollback, but sadly we surprised everyone with our quickness to the next fence and ended up having to go wide to avoid my teammate who had expected to cross my line ahead of me. No matter, we made up our new course on the fly and Checkers was game. My poor teammate ended up having issues mid course with her over excited pony, but Checkers made up for it with a really quick last section of the course. We didn't win the last round, but I'm super proud of Checkers for making it close even with all the issues we had. She was definitely the fastest horse there and the star of the hour. We had a few people pretty surprised. I can see why she was a successful show jumper in her past life. She's a big mare with a huge stride, but she's also surprisingly quick and agile through her turns. Even though I don't necessarily have the experience to see and adjust strides from way out, the majority of the time I'm able to do it with Checkers just because I'm so familiar with her and where she likes to be. Of course, it helps that she's super honest and really I just need to be brave and hang on and let her take care of business!
The real Checkers enjoying a treat post ride

It was a super win for my confidence, and I'm sure Checkers knew she owned the course :) I needn't ever be concerned again about her getting too fast or over jumping - we did all of that and while it may not have been 'hunter' pretty, it was fun and no one even got close to getting in trouble.

I don't think I've ever had quite so much fun in the saddle- there's a lot to be said for running around like an idiot on a horse who's on your side 100% :)
Best red mare.


  1. Sounds like great fun!!
    Checkers is a legend, bet you guys will be first choice next time ☺

  2. Way to go! Sounds like a great ride :)