Piper has been wanting to attend a Cutter Farm jumper show all winter long. However she has been struggling with some jumping associated fear for quite a while and had been balking about jumping anything higher than a few inches particularly if there were multiple jumps in a row. Mischief also tends to get a wee bit enthusiastic about jumping which can be a little disconcerting when you’ve been riding a pony that needs more encouragement. Needless to say given these factors the parental units were a bit skeptical. That said, since this was driven by her, Cutter has a nice beginner 12″ cross rail class, and Dave felt she’d be fine we decided to let her go ahead as long as her Wednesday lesson went well.
Wednesday involved a lot of practice getting Mischief to approach fences at rider recommended pace instead of her own. We all thought Piper had a really good lesson. Unfortunately she did not agree and was overwhelmed to the point of tears at the end of the lesson. Fortunately after a little reassurance from Mom and her coach she was excited and ready to go.
The warm-up for the lower classes started at 8:30 so we needed to be at the barn by 6:30 requiring the o-dark-hundred wake-up call of 5:30. Thankfully the eleven year old is not a crab about getting up in the morning when it involves ponies. We arrived at the barn on time and after taking care of turnout and getting the horses on the trailer we were on our way.
Shortly after arrival it was time for Piper to tack up and head over to the warm-up ring. While she was bridling, Mischief decided it might be fun to have a little walkabout to check out the grass that seemed to be just out of reach.
She was quickly recaptured and successfully bridled with Dave’s supervision.
Piper and pony came out swinging in the warm-up.
Piper: “I really want to do that jump-off so I better do what Dave tells me.”
Piper: “That vertical is a little frightening, but oh my this is going well.”
After the outdoor warm-up they headed indoors. One of the nice things about schooling jumpers is the warm-up class. This allows the rider and coach to go out and do the course before the actual rounds for practice and to see where any potential problems might be.
Note Mischief practicing her dressage halt in front of fence one. “Are you sure you want me to jump that?”
Fence one was successfully tackled on the second pass and the rest of the warm-up went beautifully.
Next up was the 12 inch cross rail round. After another stop at that pesky fence one, Piper and the pony did a fabulous job…
and despite the stop earned their very first ribbon–a lovely green sixth place!
You may have deduced from her above comment Piper really wanted to do the jump-off. This stems back to this summer’s jumper show on Holly where she just missed on both of her rounds. The jump-off is a short series of 4-5 jumps that you do after you do your initial round if you go clean–don’t knock a rail, miss a fence, get a refusal. The round is timed and the ribbon order is decided by who has the best time. Unfortunately because Piper and Mischief had a refusal at fence one they were not eligible. With this in mind and the fact that the first round had gone so well when Dave asked Piper if she wanted to do the 18″ cross rails she responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”
Piper gave Mischief a little encouragement by way of a kick for that first fence and off they went. It was like she threw a switch and gave the pony permission to do what she wanted to all along.
Mischief: “We did it your way the first time, how about we try it my way this time. See? Isn’t this better?”
Piper held on like a champ, kicked it into gear, and about gave both her parents heart failure for an amazing clean round. After that it was pretty obvious the pony remembered her past jump-offs. The two of them finished with a time 6 seconds ahead of the rest out of a field of 18 for the pair’s first blue!
Such an exciting day and so very proud of Piper for working through her fears and our wonderful pony for taking such good care of her.
Looking forward to watching her confidence build as she and the pony get to know each other better.
Now to get busy on those half-halts and looking around corners! 😉