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Sunday, 13 May 2018

Showjumping in the Sun

Yesterday, we headed to a local Northumbrian venue for some very low key, friendly showjumping classes. Louie's done heaps of dressage but I can count on one hand the number of times he has stepped into a showjumping class. So this post is a bit of a detailed one about our day out in the sun enjoying some jumping, as well as what's holding me back.

First, let's take a look at our rounds.

I'd entered the 55cm & the 65cm, deciding that I wanted to concentrate on riding after the fence and looking around the turns to the next jump. I wanted two confidence filled round for Louie too.

We warmed up in a field next to the arena, where Louie was pretty keen at first, but with 10 minutes flatwork was soon back into his groove, and he popped a couple of warm up jumps lovely. After a quick course walk, I jumped back on Louie, and it was soon our turn.

I think that concentrating on riding after the jump AND looking for my turns really took the pressure off - I felt super relaxed going into the ring, and knew I just had to look up and not make the common mistake of looking at the jump once I had my stride.

Louie was his usual nosey self, making sure he knew just what was going on everywhere...But once he started jumping, we got into a good rhythm and he was looking for where the next fence is. All of the turns felt easy, balanced and organised - a marked improved from a few months ago!

Louie jumped clear, and went forward to the jump off. My priority was confidence, so I knew I was not going to blast around the course. I'm pleased as he came out of the arena feeling confident and in his little world his was a champ!! He came second in the class, which was an extra bonus as we'd not really gone for competing, only to walk into the arena and jump what's there without working around the fences first.

Onto the next class, which I went in with the same objectives - look up, ride after the fence and give Louie confidence.

The fences went up to 65cm with a couple of planks added to some of the jumps, but no fillers went in. I felt that if I rode the same way as the first class, Louie would take a lot of confidence from me as he went around. 

Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out as I'd hoped, but I can still take lots of positives from the round. We got "stuck" at the plank at number 6...I'm still not sure why - I was definitely looking up & he'd jumped everything so far. Perhaps I forgot my leg, or perhaps he was just being a bit too cheeky.

Here's my round, but please read on...

Why do I choose to post the full video and not cut out our little mishap? Because I'm a big believer in show that we are very much a work in progress. It doesn't always go right & it shows EXACTLY why we are still entering classes of this height.

I'd like to give a massive shout out to the organiser, Julie, who allowed us to get over the jump, and what isn't captured, is that at the end of the round, she let us go back and jump it again to finish on a positive.

Showjumping has never been my most confident discipline. When I had lessons on previous horses, I was made to feel really stupid for not being able to see a stride time after time, but never really taught how to see one or how to adjust when you do. It was drilled into me to get out of the bottom of the fence, but not actually how to stop doing it. When I pushed for long strided jumps & got left behind, I was made to feel awful for catching the horse in the mouth, which I know isn't ideal, but I was never taught about how to stop it or how to go with the horse better. It left me completely deflated of confidence when I jump, never being afraid of the physical jump, but getting it wrong.

That still sticks with me today and at times really holds me back. For example, coming into a jump with fillers, because Louie is green and spooky, I'm afraid to kick on in case I get a long on and catch his mouth, AND I'm worried about putting him to the bottom of the jump. I actually shouldn't worry about either... I never catch Louie's mouth, and he goes from literally stride. He's like a cat on hot coals if he does run to the bottom, and has once knocked the bottom pole out the cups, but leaving the top one standing!

Over the last few months, I've been working really hard to get rid of these thoughts, and start to ride the horse I have underneath me. I also have an amazing jumping coach, who is also trained in sports psychology, and without her help, I'm sure Louie and I would be worrying about poles on the floor. She's great at getting me to reverse my thinking and stop over thinking and worrying about every stride and every jump!

After yesterday, even with our hiccup, I'm confident that we will start to really progress and feel much more confident with every round that we do. I'm leaving the fillers, ladders and water trays to my training sessions for now, but the aim of the game is to just go out LOADS more and to as many different places as possible!!

A very honest & open insight into my psychology this morning...!!

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