I was so happy to have finally won a showjumping competition with Tommy and had been looking forwards to the Team showjumping but the British weather put an end to that. My first ever showjumping win was a few years ago at the Chantrey’s Championships on my first horse Little Bea. It would be something very special if Tommy and I could win this competition again as it would be a clear indication and credit to how well he has been going for me.
Before the Chantrey’s Championship there was one more competition that would hopefully give us the additional practice we needed, but it didn’t go as we planned. Unfortunately Tommy didn’t warm up well and we got eliminated in the 85cm class and only managed to get 3rd in the 95cm class, certainly not the build up I was hoping for.
After talking to my instructor Katy Thomas we decided that more lessons were required; I neede to work on getting Tommy more collected and controlled when proceeding and following the jumps. The lessons were going well, but in one of my lessonjust three days before the competition I fell off Tommy. It had been about two years since I had last fallen off and although it wasn’t a bad fall, my confidence levels were definitely on a downwards slope.
Competition day arrived and with it the rain. We spent the morning waiting to see if the competition would be cancelled but it wasn’t. I went up to the showground and entered the 85cm and 95cm classes, then went back to the yard and tacked up and began to warm up in our school. Three of us from the yard hacked up to the showground together to see if they had cancelled the 75cm speed class and the accumulator. They had made some changes and in place of these classes they had added an additional 75cm class. I took a look at the ring which was now getting churned up, so I made the decision to move my 95cm entry to this new 75cm class.
Our number was called and we set off on a very tentative round. I was trotting on the turns to make sure Tommy didn’t slip or get away from me, but just before jump 3 his attention was taken by a pink umbrella, by the time I got his attention back to jump 3 we were a bit close and he ran out. I brought him round and we jumped clear to the end of the round. At the end of the class it turned out that there had been no clear rounds and I was the only rider with 4 faults so we had won. It was a bit of a mixed feeling, we had won which was amazing, but it was far from a good round.
I tired to put my feelings to one side for the 85cm class, the rider before me had a few jumps down, so Tommy and I trotted calmly round the ring longer than usual. The bell went and I took him up in to a slow canter. We cleared the first two jumps and he felt a lot better and more balanced than the first round (may be the 75cm had warmed him up and calmed him) so I kept him going in canter. This felt like one of the best rounds we had ever done at a competition and I relaxed a lot. Tommy cleared jump after jump. With just two jumps to go I was already thinking if he was going this well I would enter the 95cm after all. This thought was enough to let me loose concentration a little and I accidentally let him take a flying leap over the last jump. We turned just in time to avoid the ring fence but I felt his back legs slide out from under us a bit.
Tommy was the only horse to go clear in the 85cm class, so we had won our second class of the day. (Lesson learnt - stay focused on the job at hand and don’t allow your mind to drift in to other thoughts) Two wins and although I was very happy to have achieved them, I decided that the 95cm class could wait for another time. I didn’t want to push my luck, the ground was getting more and more slippery and Tommy had tried his hardest for me, it some how felt wrong to ask for anything more.
Tommy had become Chantrey Champion for 2014 in the 75cm and 85cm classes which was a huge success for us both. There will always be a part of me that wonders if we could have got the hat-trick and won the 95cm class that day, but I value Tommy too much to push him in to a situation where neither of us is truly comfortable especially with the less than ideal conditions.
Special thanks go to Hallamsire Riding Society of Sheffield for all their hard work organising the show.
Our win marks the end of the outdoor showjumping season at our local riding club, however I will shortly be sitting down and giving serious thought to what our winter goals and targets will be. (Photos by David Thomas)
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