August 29, 2012

Three Feet Closer To Heaven

My physiology betrayed me as my heart beat faster, watching the ring crew raise the poles to 3'.  Logically, Encore and I have lessoned well at this height and even with Solo, we cleared 3'3", although not without significant effort.

We had already run the 2'6" class at Mach 10, Encore bombing around the course as if everything was simply a coloured speedbump.  Even with his rider getting so hopelessly lost that I had to stop after jump four and stare around at the numbers to figure out what to do next.  On the plus side, it provided both spectators, judge, and rider with a good giggle. 

Note:  do not stand at a jumper show all morning and watch alternating courses back and forth.  You will only confuse yourself.  Be grateful that we have only one course in eventing.

Encore had warmed up well, despite working BY HIMSELF, isolated behind the barn in the dressage arena.  I focused on David's counterbending exercises to supple him and the challenge was like a charm, keeping his mind on his feet, rather than everything else.

I trotted cautiously in when it was my turn to jump our course.  The judge blew the whistle and I barely breathed my aids, expecting Encore to explode back into rocket power.

Then he looked at the first jump, we rebalanced, he found his rhythm, and proceeded to perform a phenomenal display of athleticism -- he never rushed, his jumps were careful and correct, and despite more rider navigational derps requiring last minute swerves, he even jumped diagnoally from the base to keep it between the standards without any fuss at all.  I think everyone heard me yell, "THANK YOU, GOOD SAVE!" over the last skinny -- about 4' wide, which I almost overshot except for Encore's quick and honest effort to do his job properly.

Thrilled is an understatement.  It appears that at 3', he finally comes into his own.  The jumps are big enough to earn a little respect and attention.  And guess what?  If you keep your leg on, EVEN IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR HORSE IS MOVING FAST, and you ride his hind end to the jump with a soft and balanced hand, a good rhythm, and you keep your eyes ahead of you.....IT FREAKING WORKS EVERY TIME.  Wow.  How much money did it cost me before my body finally managed to pull that off?

First rule of Horse Club:  never add up expense of Horse Club.

The single rail we dropped was entirely my fault -- I tried to half halt too close to the fence, causing Encore to tag the rail with his hind feet.  The last three strides in front of the jump belong to him, as David says, and I should have simply added leg and left well enough alone. 

In summary:  THE UNICORN IS A ROCK STAR.  And I can't wait till Five Points....


  1. Yeah for the Unicorn!!

    Sounds like you had a fun time. All the best for your fall season.

  2. Thank you! We need all the good juju we can get!

  3. Leg on, good rhythm, soft hand. We can do this... (I have to send in my jumper show entry this week).

    Congrats!! That sounds super fun. :)

  4. Sounds like you are on a bit of a horse high. :)

  5. Soo happy for you! Sending good thoughts your way.

  6. I love that feeling of a course well ridden. Nothing beats how exhilarated we feel. Congrats!

    Looking forward to you events this fall.

  7. Thanks to all! I am totally on a horse high right now. Can't wait to get on him this afternoon....

  8. That must have been a truly awesome ride.

    Breaking the first two rules of Horse Club is not recommended. ;)

  9. I KNOW that feeling, and it's been waaaaaaaay too long since I felt it. I can think of one lesson in particular (of COURSE it wasn't a show, you were just incredibly lucky ;-))on Marbles, the pony in my avatar, where the jumps were just... were THERE, every single time. Normally, if I do not go around a course thinking, "Wait. Wait. Wait." I get so nervous that the horse speeds up, we rush, we chip and the whole thing is a mess. But when I have a mount I really know and trust, and can relax, keep the leg on, keep the hands quiet, and remember to breathe, just like you describe - wow. WOW. So glad it's happening for you and Encore!

  10. Thank you both! And Marbles is a totally awesome dappled pony name, BTW.... :D