WHEN THINGS GO WRONG IN A COMPETITION - How do you move on?

NEVER GIVE UP! - EVEN WHEN THINGS SEEM LIKE THEY CAN'T GET ANY WORSE
 
It has been over a year since Rich performed on his first horse little Bea in a show jumping competition, so after a great training session with Joe Whitaker and his yard owner Kathryn Thomas and lots of practice at home, he decides its time to enter Tommy in his local riding club competition and see if they can get round a full course of jumps. 
After very little sleep Rich gets up early. He has plenty of time to feed Tommy, muck out and mentally prepare as the classes he has entered don't start until 1.00pm...


Rich continues

Rich head_and_Tommy
 
We set off to the showground early, I paid, got my number and walked the course, phew, it looked OK, no doubles or triples and not too tight, I was feeling a little happier, especially as Tommy has a long stride which I struggle to shorten, so space was going to be on our side and we would probably use every inch of it!!
 
As the showground is only a ten minute hack from my yard, I decided that after grooming and tacking up Tommy I would set up a cross pole and an 80cm spread in the school and warm up. I am pleased I did because I decided I needed to shorten my stirrups by 1 hole.

Rich is wearing Moutain Horse breeches and boots
 
It was soon time to set off so I hacked up to the show ground, up to this point Tommy had been quite calm, but on arrival he started to get excited. It didn't help that my class had already started, which I hadn't expected as things usually run late! 
Rich and_Tommy_warming_up

We headed to the warm up and I began to feel distinctly out of control, I attempted the practice jump and we demolished it, including wings, not a good start. Change of plan... I know Tommy can jump, so I rode him over to a quiet area near the jumping ring and walked slow circles to try and calm him down…. If I'm honest I needed calming down too, the whole experience was beginning to loose its element of fun.
 
My number was eventually called and we entered the ring, walk, trot, canter, bell and turn for the first jump. But something went wrong, as I turned to the jump something must have spooked Tommy and we were cantering sideways (looking back this might have been our first cantered half-pass, but this was not the time for classical dressage).

Rich and_Tommy_jump_1
I turned him sharply and straight at the jump, it was a bad turn, I hadn't left enough space, and he stopped. I knew that was elimination, but I knew I had to continue and get Tommy over the jump, so I turned and made a much larger circle and this time we made it, he jumped it cleanly,  I couldn't believe it no one rung the bell  so I continued to jump the course. Tommy jumped beautifully and as we cleared the final jump - followed by the commentary from the judge who said ‚Äö√Ñ√∫That is sadly Elimination for Richard Neale and Wee Tom‚Äö√Ñ√π. 
 
I was so disappointed in my riding; if only I could have got him over the first jump we would have got our first rosette in our first show. But not all was lost; there was still the 75cm speed class. 

After more hiding in a quiet corner while the 75cm class finished it was time for the 75cm speed class, this was over the same jumps as the 75cm class so I knew if we jumped the first jump we were in with a good chance. All too soon I was called and we were off. Sit up, legs on, keep contact, turn to the first jump with as much room as I could make and we made it, and we were off, Tommy seemed to know speed was what we needed and we went for it. 

As I left the ring I heard ‚Äö√Ñ√∫That sets the new time to beat of 41 seconds.‚Äö√Ñ√π I couldn't believe it, WE WERE IN THE LEAD with only one horse to go. The last to go was one of the fastest riders in jump off and she knew the time to beat, Just 33 seconds later we were Tommy and I were in second place.
Rich and_Tommy_jump_wall
 
I wondered about doing the 85cm class, since he had done so well in the 75cm speed class, but I decided that actually it had already been a big and stressful day for us both, there would be plenty more shows in the future. 
So we hacked home happy with our 2nd place and qualification to the riding club championship show in September. 

Thank you to Mountain Horse for supplying some great gear.
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