So we’ve had Libby going very well, as I said last time. We’ve been building her stamina up with long gallops, and done our homework.
We’ve schooled her at the show grounds, and finally I had enough saved up to try my hand once again at showing.
Once I’d put the money down for my stall my nerves started to creep up. But I wasn’t nervous that Libby was going to be bad, or that I was going to fall off. I was nervous that like the last time I tried showing, I would have panic attacks. I was nervous that my Lyme symptoms were going to become my normal, and after this show, if I again felt so nervous, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t try it again, that I would try to be content with not showing. Because lets be honest, this sport is way too expensive to not be fun. And if I would feel so sick and helpless at every show, then it wasn’t worth it. I was just going to do the low adult hunters (2’6″) so there was as little pressure as possible. But I had quite a bit riding on this show.
Friday we got to the show grounds, and Libby was the freshest shes been in months. We’d shipped her over with another mare who is just ridiculous, screams and carries on the whole time in the trailer. She got Libby so worked up, that Libby was calling too, which is very abnormal for her. We schooled her, and she was actually up in the schooling area, but quiet in the ring. I had my trainer get on her just to ensure that she had a good experience with her being so up. She rode her for about five seconds and just said, shes fine get on. So I did and she handled the crazy schooling ring, and my (regular level) nerves just fine. Gave her lots of treats and tucked her in for the night.
Saturday, I was nervous, but again normal level show nerves for the first show in a year. My classes were scheduled to go at the last slot of the day, around 3:30 so I had lots of time to stew and think about showing. I hacked her in the morning and she was dead quiet, which made me feel good. After schooling her I found things to do to keep my mind off of it for the most part, but there’s only so many times I could pick my stall and dump and clean her water buckets. When show time finally came around, we decided to have my trainer hop on first to see how Libby handled being in the show ring. After her rounds, me and trainer discussed how Libby herself gets a bit nervous, and how my goal should be to relax her in the ring. So I got on, and schooled my horse. I was nervous, but focused. I went in and it wasn’t the prettiest, but it wasn’t too ugly. We’d decided to not do lead changes, shes still learning and we didn’t want to stress her out at the show. Other then our changes though she was good! She was a bit spooky near the jump crew tent, but a little scratch on the neck and inside leg helped. I came out much calmer then I went in, and I actually remembered what happened in the ring! Small victories people. Of course, with the lack of lead changes we were out of the top ribbons but I didn’t care. She was a little nervous in the hack, but held it together. She was good and I wasn’t having panic attacks so I was happy with our day.
Sunday I gave her a good walk around the showgrounds in the early AM to stretch her legs. She seemed really quiet, again good thing. When our show time finally came around, again at the end of the day, they switched rings on us. This would have probably sent me into a nerve bundle of fear before, but Sunday I was cool as a cucumber. I got on, and Libby was also calm, I could feel her nerves at all. We went in and rocked our warm up, and our next two courses. Again we didn’t do our changes, and I let her outside drift get me a couple of times, giving me a deep distance to our outside line. But she was perfect. I was riding with loopy reins and kicking the whole way, like a true hunter. Which to some might not seem fun but thats exactly the type of ride I love, and what I knew was in her. I was ecstatic. I didn’t even stay to see what we got ribbon wise, (a couple 3rds and a fourth out of 6) I didn’t care. I was just so happy that she was so good for me, that I was able to control and overcome my nerves, and proud of how far we’ve come.
From her being a freight train, to being soft and flowing, I was so happy I stuck with her and really stood behind her.
A week later, I hadn’t ridden her since Sunday due to a sprung shoe, but because I couldn’t show that weekend, (Happy Mothers day everyone!), we decided to bring her over Friday just to school. It was pretty dead on the show grounds, so when we headed to the ring to school, it was just me, another ammy at the barn(the one who referred me to my trainer), and my trainer. We started warming up, and hoping over the single on the diagonal. The jumps were all set up to about 3′-3’3″ so I thought my trainer would lower it since we’ve really only done 2’6″ at the show. But she just left it up, and I trust her so we trucked around a solid course. At first Libby was really jumping me out of the tack, but once I got out of fetal position and sat up, I was just fine. 🙂 Libby was jumping with her knees to her eyeballs, and was quiet and soft as ever. She was literally perfect. She was landing all her leads, and I really couldn’t have asked her to be any better. As we were cooling out, my trainer said, “I wish I’d videoed you! Not only so you could have seen how awesome Libby was, but so you could have seen (OLD TRAINERS) face as you were going around.” To say that made me feel good about myself was an understatement. To go from a horse that was supposedly a “POS and a local level horse at best, you should definitely trade her”, to now, I’m sure it hurt him just a little to see what business he’d lost. Not that I’m complaining. Everything happens for a reason and had I not gone there, I might not have been so frustrated to the point that I went to the local tack store worker for help, and I wouldn’t have met the woman who basically said, “You need to come to trainer J’s farm.”
So as I said, everything happens for a reason, and I’m so glad it did. I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are now without my current trainer, and her program.
Its just really comforting to know that everything I’d thought before, how Libby would become such a perfect hunter, how she’ll eventually be a kick ride, everything I’d thought was right. I followed my gut, didn’t listen to the naysayers (for too long), and stuck to my decisions. And thats partly one of the biggest victories of all. To know that all those people that said she would never be what I wanted, that she was too fresh, too this too that, they were all wrong.
I’m excited for the next shows for us, and will hopefully be getting some more footage of us!