This past weekend, I took Chance to a GHHJA (Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Association) show down at Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas. Let’s just say, it was not our best… We arrived on Friday, and after lunging for a while, he schooled great. My trainer and I thought the weekend would be no problem at all. He was great in the warm-up ring Saturday morning; and he was great over the first jump in our warm-up round. I had him a little to slow to the next jump which was a long-approach oxer off of a right turn – and he tends to drift hard to the left off a right turn – so he turned out at it. It is not unusual for him to run out when I make an error like that, so I was not worried. I simply circled him back around to it, and he jumped it no problem. When we came to the next jump, however ( the in to an outside 5-stride line), we did have a problem. He ran out again. Then, I was worried. I completely froze up and could not get him over it. The same thing happened at the first jump in the next class. All of the struggles I have had with him running out at the jumps came flooding back to me…. My trainer ended up getting on him for the last class, and he stopped out with her too. Luckily, no one was waiting to to go in, so they let her jump him around. She finally got him him over everything, but he was pretty nasty. Although he ended up winning the flat class, the whole day was a complete and utter disappointment. He had not acted like that in so long, and I thought he was over it. So, it is safe to say that I was pretty discouraged.
Luckily, Sunday turned out to be less of a disaster. My trainer schooled him, and rode him in his first two jumping classes. I rode him in the last. Even though I had seen him go over everything with her, I was nervous about him running out, so I powered through the course and got him going a little too fast. But he jumped everything!
I guess he is just going to be the type of horse to act like that every now and then. He also has not been to very many shows in his life, so perhaps there is still hope for him to straighten up! The worst part about the situation though is how I handled it. Instead of being assertive and powering through the course, I completely froze. That is absolutely the worst thing I can do on him; or on any horse, for that matter. Although it was completely uncalled for that he act like that, I still must accept that it was partly my fault. It is so easy to simply blame the horse when things go wrong, but being able to take responsibility for our mistakes is what allows us to progress as riders. There will always be difficult horses that don’t want to do what we ask them to; how we respond is what makes or breaks us as riders. In fact, I think it is the worst shows, or worst rides, that teach us the most. A trainer once told me that “this sport is so addictive because you never perfect it.” That is so incredibly true! Instead of giving up on Chance – or on myself – I want to get back out there and try again. And again. And again. However long it takes. 😉