HARD WORK, DETERMINATION AND BELIEF FINALLY PAYS OFF - Rich and Tommy get their first win

After a run of eight consecutive second places Richard was beginning to wonder if he and Tommy would ever manage to go that next step and get their first win. 

Richard continues:

 I simply love jumping Tommy, on a good day he has so much power and confidence that he feels like he could jump anything – I mean anything, but turning all that power and energy in to a win at a competition has been hard work. Often Tommy gets too excited at competitions which results in me losing a little focus and not thinking about the cause of his excitement – so much so that I have been known to jump the wrong course. This said every time we compete we take our learning’s go away and compete better the next time.

It’s very true that it’s not all about the winning, but I cant  deny that having that desire to want to win is always in the back of my head, to me having a win would acknowledge and reward Tommy for how much he has improved. 

For those of you that have been following our journey I only started competing seriously in April 2013, working our way up from 65cm to 95cm classes. So far in 2014 we have still been jumping the 85cm and 95cm classes and I was beginning to feel that we were stuck and were going to have to get used to being placed second. I knew we were both making improvements but our results were just not reflecting them.

At the beginning of this season we were getting placed, but I was still having moments where I would have to trot to re balance Tommy taking care that his excitement didn’t knock over any photographer that might be standing close by .
 
Rich Tommy 1st win showjuming
The last showjumping competition of July came round and I really wanted to do well, this was going to be our day but as I went to tack Tommy up he was so hyper active that I just simply had to accept that there was no way we could jump, I couldn’t see past the image in my head of loosing control of him in the ring, or worse, him injuring himself.  

That was that, so I put him out in the field and was left feeling like I had failed us both…. we had missed our chance and I had convinced my self that I would be the rider who’s score would be dropped. 

On the Sunday morning one my colleagues on the yard asked if I was going to the team show jumping competition that was being held at the local riding club that day, I hadn’t realized that there was one on. Looking back it was probably good that I didn't as it meant I couldn’t worry about it.

 I turned Tommy out and then went home and ate a sensible lunch to ensure I wouldn’t run out of energy (another common mistake I often make is not eating enough on show days). Then back to the yard to groom, tack up and warm up. Tommy was very relaxed and I immeditely felt my confidence grow.
 
 There was quite a wait at the showground for the 85cm class so I kept myself busy by watching carefully where riders in the earlier classes were having problems and the where the turns and lines were working well for them. Many were having refusals at the final jump (was this down to them relaxing a little too much due their round being almost over and their horses feeling it?).

Tommy was a little wayward in the warm up area but I managed to keep him calm, he felt good beneath me as we were called, something inside me was telling me that this could be our chance to do well.  
Rich-Tommy 1st win shwjumping barrells
We made it clear over the first jump and I told Tommy what a good boy he was, I made sure that I sat up after each jump and didn’t anticipate his take off for the next one.  We rode to each jump with more control than we have ever done and as Tommy cleared each jump in turn I could hear that my shouts of “Good Boy Tommy” were getting louder. Over the last..... I couldn’t believe it we were the only ones to clear in the 85cm class which meant we had our first ever win!

 After the prize giving I opted to walk out of the ring rather than gallop round, I wanted to keep Tommy as calm as possible for the 95cm class.

 There was only one change; jump two had become a wall. We were second in the ring, clear over jump one, but then I got the approach to jump two wrong and allowed my self to start thinking if I had just created a problem. I collected Tommy up so I would be ready to push him over if he showed signs of stopping, he didn’t, but we clipped the top of the jump and picked up four faults but went clear for the rest of the round. The last show jumper to go was the only other rider to only pick up 4 faults so there was a jump off.

Rich tommy showjumping rossettes
I was first to jump off so I knew I had to be quick to win, and that was my mistake, I went too fast over jump one and Tommy jumped flat and we took the top pole… down it went. Not to be put off I gained a bit more control and we cleared the rest of the jumps.  

The other rider jumped off, she was faster, but had two jumps down.  We hadn’t gone clear, but we had done enough to get our second win.

What a feeling…. Finally Tommy receives his first recognition and reward for all his hard work and improvement.

Next weekend is the team showjumping competition and I am feeling more confident that I will be able to give a result that will help the team rather than be the one that is dropped. Next time I will let you know how we get on, keep your fingers crossed for both Tommy and me.

www.mountainhorse.co.uk - Supply Richard with his riding clothing and footwear 

www.championhats.co.uk -  Supply Richard with his riding protection 

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