COMING ON IN LEAPS AN BOUNDS - Do Richards nerves hold out?

Summer has well and truly come to an end which means its time for Richard's local riding club championship show. Richard had previously qualified by coming 2nd in the 75cm speed class and since then has been working hard training at home with his yard owner and jumping coach Katy Thomas. Richard took the decision to enter the two biggest classes, the 85cm and 95cm classes even though he had never competed at this level before (ever on any horse!). We join Richard on the day of the competition….
Rich jumping_back_view

As Richard's fellow riders loaded up their horses and left for the showground he was left alone to warm up in the school, giving him time to question if he and Tommy were ready, however he had entered and there was no turning back now. His mind racing he managed to jump a couple of 95cm jumps without any problem before proceeding to hack up to the riding club show ground. 
Rich continues: 
 
On arrival Tommy was a lot calmer than he had ever been before at a competition, this helped the prospect of what was to come. As I watched my fellow competitors I could see the ground was quite slippery - there had been an incident of a pony slipping over earlier in the day, so I took the decision that slow and safe was the order of the day, even if I got in to a jump off. 
Rich standing_in_MH_clothing 
I was to be the first of the three riders from my yard, and it wasn't long before I was called in to the ring to jump. I trotted down to the end of the ring, started to canter a slow circle, the bell went and we turned towards jump one. About 2 strides from the start Tommy questioned if we were going to jump or not and immediately I started to think that may be we would be picking up 4 faults for a refusal at fence one.....now this wasn't the plan, I put my leg on and shouted “Go On!”, Tommy responded and jumped with a bit more of a leap than even I wanted, but we cleared it. I continued round the course, slowing to trot on tight turns to avoid slipping.

Rich on_Tommy_standingWe cleared the last jump to a loud cheer from all my colleagues from the yard… it was such an amazing feeling to go clear. By the end of the class only 4 had gone clear, including me there were two other riders from my yard. In the jump off I rode with the same slow approach, taking care not to slip in the turns, it paid off as Tommy and I ended up in second place behind the winner Katy from the yard. Amazingly three out of the top four riders were from our yard - A great start to the day.
 
The jumps went up to 95cm and the double became a triple and the course was now taking its toll, more jumps were falling in this round. I went in and took the same approach 'slow and safe' but immediately  forgot to take a slow cantered circle before the first jump and Tommy took off quicker than I would have liked, before I knew we were at jump 3, the triple, the striding was awkward, and we did the first part on a very long 1 rather than a short 2, we seemed to be heading for the right wing of the third part and I just managed to steer Tommy over but he slipped on landing and we lost our balance and my left stirrup, I struggled to slow him so I could get my stirrup back before jumping four and ended up putting a circle in, picking up 4 faults for crossing my track. Foot back in the stirrup we jumped clear over the rest of the jumps.
Rich jumping_side_view
There was only one clear so the four falters had to jump off. I was 3rd to go and Tommy felt good so I didn't want to make the same mistake and push him too hard on the turn to the 4th jump and lose his back legs again and for me to become unseated. This was too risky, even if I could get second place  - Tommy means more to me so I decide to finish the jump off in trot, and finished safe over the last fence for 4th place.
 
Other than my error in loosing my stirrup it was a good first performance from us, having never been in a 95cm class before. Tommy jumped everything he was asked to and did his best to get us clear through the troublesome triple that most riders had problems with. His confidence helped build my confidence and I can't wait to see where we will end up next; however I will be testing out jumping with studs before we jump on grass again.
 
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