Horse Shows

Chatt Hills HT: Show Jumping

We were scheduled to show jump at 6:15 PM Saturday evening, but the heavens opened up around 3:30 and this massive storm hung over us for what seemed like forever, pushing everything back by 1.5 hours. It was a mess- stalls had lakes in them and the arena footing was just slop. Something I’ve never ridden Leo in until that point.

Trainer B and I were able to walk about half the course before they started sending riders in, so I stayed to watch a few rounds to know where I was going. And then I had to walk away. I watched about 7 rounds, and in all 7 rounds horses and riders were slipping, pulling rails, and just generally not having a good go of things.

Watching SJ so I know where to go while simultaneously feeling REALLY bad about watching riders have a tough time.

Like, one pair came into the arena as the previous pair was finishing up and the horse ENTERED REARING. Lucky for the horse and rider who were ending their course, that horse didn’t seem to notice. Then the rearing horse jumped jump one and, oh ya know, RAN AWAY with the rider. Legit ran away and they galloped three laps of the entire arena before she managed to pull him up. Then she just left the arena. I felt so bad.

Since the schedule was so messed up, they were just putting riders in order as they came to warmup, so I threw Leo’s tack on to get in line. And wondered if he was perhaps a bit tired, because this is what he was doing the entire time…


I mean…I dunno

But I quickly found out when we stepped foot in the SJ warmup arena that that whole “stall-licking-because-I’m-so-calm-and-bored-with-this-whole-thing was a LIE.


If there is any footage of the first half of my “warmup,” I’ll pay through the nose for it. I didn’t even recognize the horse under me…as he was flinging himself (and me) around like a lunatic. Yes, I had THAT horse. I wished I could trade for the horse that *just* reared and galloped. At one point, when he took a nanosecond of a break from ping-ponging around, a trainer on the rail said with incredible sympathy, “I’ve been where you are. You’re doing great.” The look of pity in her eyes was touching, but I had no time to dwell on it because Leo had caught his breath and off we went for round 6? 7?

And there’s Trainer B in the middle of the arena going, “Ok, now canter!”


But he was right. And Trainer B had already warned me about “Warmup Leo,” but after dressage warmup, I thought he’d been exaggerating and Leo clearly loved me too much to put me in harms way. So…lesson learned. Once I stopped just trying to survive and started making him do things my way, he was like, “FINE,” and we got down to work. Plus, by then the warmup area had calmed down quite a bit (not sure if everyone else had just went to do their rounds or if they left to avoid Leo and I), and Leo got a bit more chill.

But then I found I had a different problem, in that I couldn’t keep a grip on my reins. My Lund ones had finally gone to their death and since they are apparently no longer in business, I went with a type that looked similar…BUT IS NOT. I had gloves on and it was honestly like I had greased my reins.

So here I am, already in my head because I can’t grip my reins, I’m riding a rabid antelope, the footing is a mess, I’ve seen multiple horses slip and slide, and oh yeah, have I ever SJ isn’t really my thang?


Needless to say, Leo is a saint (yes, I’m aware that I just called him a rabid antelope like one sentence ago) because I had NO steering and he still jumped everything. I spent at least 5 strides after every fence trying to get my reins back, and pointed him at fences all wrong. I had explicit instructions to never move him up to a fence- to either sit or whoa a little so he learns to back off fences- and to fences 4 and 5, all I could see was the long one. So while, umm, ewww, at least I didn’t let my (incorrect) instincts take over. But the 2 rails were 100% my fault. I was most disappointed in how I rode the 2 stride. One and two strides are so hard for me, but in the SJ lesson we had the day before leaving for Chatt, I absolutely NAILED the 2 stride. Womp womp.

So the two rails knocked us down to 9th and I spent the hours between 2:00 AM and 4:30 AM watching the above video in slow motion and beating myself up because I definitely, totally ruined my horse forever and it’d be better for him if I didn’t take him XC the next day. And maybe I should sell him to someone more deserving. Ya know. All rational things that one thinks in the middle of the night.

He really did try so hard. Shocked he had energy left after SJ warmup tho

But at the same time, I was the teensiest bit proud of myself. Show jumping has always been my worst phase and I still went in and did the thing, despite being more than a little suspicious of my horse’s mental state.

Leo: Who, me?

XC next!



23 thoughts on “Chatt Hills HT: Show Jumping”

  1. You’re so right to be proud of yourself for going in and doing the damn thing. That takes some guts. You did wonderfully. Don’t listen to those thoughts from the wee morning hours. Those hours are the worst for evaluating anything!


  2. Oh, warm up Leo. Never fun to have a horse who your trainer has a separate name for, just for warm up. BUT… WAY TO GO and get it done! YAY! Now you know you can handle anything!!


  3. That was a great round on a green horse that was a rabid antelope in warm-up. Always things to work on, but isn’t that the point? You should be proud of both of you!


  4. Screw those middle-of-the-night demon voices! It sounds like you worked Leo through a great learning opportunity, and what he learned is that when he acts like a rabid antelope, you’re going to stick it out and not quit. And in my not-very-qualified opinion, he looks super in the video. Is every distance perfect? Nah, but he looks relaxed and he did help take care of you while you dealt with the slippery reins situation. And, you know, every distance isn’t always going to be perfect for any of us! All we can do is give it our best and stick with it, which you obviously did!


  5. You are so right to be proud of yourself! Honestly, I think that really is huge that with all of the crazy going around, you stuck to your guns and didn’t let instinct take over to rush the fences. Leo really looks so rideable in that video, and I think you are awesome for still going in there and riding that course even though Leo was an “antelope” in warmup lol. Don’t let those wee morning thoughts get to you!

    That sucks about the reins. I’m sad Lund doesn’t seem to be around anymore as well. I really liked their stuff. On that tho – I’m pretty sure I have a pair of Lund rubber reins that I got to try as one of their deals, and apart from riding with them once I really do not use them whatsoever. I didn’t have a horse to really try them out on because not only is it not rainy here, but I’ve never really needed to use that grip for a horse yet lol. So if you’d like them, I’d much rather give them to you so they are used and enjoyed!


  6. Honestly for the stage he’s at, I think it’s a really good round. You let him find his way to the base, and most of the time he jumped really well from there. A couple times he didn’t quite get his feet sorted in time, but that’s no big deal. Two rails is definitely annoying on paper but I think this is a good “training” round that you and he can definitely build from in the future. I love his rhythm and how relaxed he is, and you did a good job of staying out of his way and letting him learn.


  7. oh girl, you didn’t ruin him. this is ammy horse training. he really does need to learn this shit. could it have been better? sure, it could always be better. but that’s why you’re taking another lesson after this, and doing another show and riding another day. a lot of people have iterated above but i’ll say it again – STOP being so hard on yourself. your horse can feel that but he won’t know why he’ll just know something’s off about you. when i feel myself spiraling mentally i make myself smile. eventually if I smile enough, my attitude turns around too 😛

    having ridden horses that have been ridden by pros their entire life, it makes them almost impossible to ride. they have no idea how to handle a mistake or how to deal with nerves. it actually makes them a little dangerous. so you didn’t ruin your horse… you are training him! into a horse i’d actually ride.


    1. That’s so funny you said that- that was one of my reservations about sending him for training when I had surgery- I need a horse that can handle mistakes. Luckily, Trainer B understands that and has been known to give the ammy-here’s-a-bad-spot-whatcha-gonna-do-about-it ride for that reason 😂 I’m always going to be hard on myself, but I’m also going to keep doing the thing, and taking the lessons and entering the shows. And YES about smiling- seriously makes the difference!

      And you can ride Leo anytime ❤️❤️


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