Yesterday we had the Championships for the evening Show Jumping classes we have been doing at our local equestrian center for the past 4 months. It was fantastic to go to our first proper championships ever! And while we didn’t get quite a sash, I am so pleased with what we have achieved.
Mystery (Fake?) Lameness
Over the weekend I wasn’t sure if we would be going as Scottie felt awful under saddle on Saturday. He felt really lame in trot but with no obvious signs as to why, I put him away for the day. I am really lucky to have a vet on our yard with a fantastic eye for lameness. So Sunday morning I trotted Scottie up and down for her and she had a good look at him. She said he was sound and she couldn’t see anything which could be making him uncomfortable. So I put him out in the field and thought I would ride again in the afternoon and see what he felt like. Once again, as soon as we got into trot he felt uncomfortable, almost wobbly in front. However, he was happy going forwards and after a few laps on each rein working long and low, he was back to his usual self, albeit with the odd bad step every now and then. I took it easy on him, just focusing on going forwards and relaxing and then I called it a day.
Monday afternoon I tried again, this time setting out some trotting poles. The idea being if he didn’t want to do the poles, I would pull out of the championships. Once again, he was a bit tight and wobbly when we first picked up trot. I asked one of the girls to watch us to see what she thought. And she said that while he didn’t look completely comfortable, he didn’t look lame. So I carried on, trying to push him into a more forward trot and he quickly worked through any discomfort he had. Once I started working him over the poles, he forgot all about any pain or tightness he had! He felt the best he had felt all week and was incredibly keen over the poles and raised poles.
So since he was sound trotting up, was enjoying going over the poles and that the classes we were doing at the championship were going to be small, I decided we would go anyway. If at any point he wasn’t happy, we could just stop and go home.
The Warm Up
I ended up leaving 15 mins earlier than I had originally planned so that Scottie could have a longer warm up. We were the first ones there! They were still setting up the course and warm up jumps. But we tacked up and headed to the warm up ring. I walked round on both reins for a good 5 mins at first, trying to encourage him to stretch over his back, but he wasn’t really having any of that. There was too much going on! When I eventually decided to pick up trot, he was once again wobbly in front, although no where near as bad as he had been! However, in just a lap of trot around the arena he was back to his usual self. So I was feeling happy to continue and see how he went.
I did a good few laps of trot on each rein, not asking anything too difficult of him, just asking him to stretch and go forwards. He still had the very occasional tense step, but I don’t know how much of that was me looking for things to feel as my helpers said they couldn’t see anything wrong in how he was moving after that first lap of trot. So I had a canter on each rein before popping him over both of the warm up jumps. He took a major dislike to both these warm up fences. But he always seems to. I got him over both of them and thought I would take him into our 30cm cross pole clear round and see if he was happy or not.
30cm Show Jumping
I’m not sure what I was worried about. Before the bell I took him to have a look at the dreaded black and white skinny and a few other fences I thought he might have a look at. He wasn’t bothered at all. So once the bell rang, I picked up trot and headed to the first fence. Scottie didn’t feel uncomfortable at all and was incredibly keen! He didn’t really look at anything on the course. The last jump seemed to take him by surprise slightly and I think he practically trod on it, resulting in a pole down. But he felt happy and wanted to do it. So we had another go. This time he wanted to canter into most of the jumps and took me to every single one. I didn’t feel him back off any of them. and this time we were clear!
40cm Show Jumping Championship
Since he had been so happy over the 30cm, I was happy taking him into our 40cm championship class. We were first into the ring. The only real change to the course was that all the cross poles were now uprights. But either way, I took him to look at the black and white skinny and the only jump with fillers before the bell rang. Once again he was incredibly keen and jumped a fantastic round. I took all the longer lines so that he had plenty of time to see the jump and on the spookier jumps I bought him back to trot for the approach. But looking back, I’m not sure I needed to do either of these things. He wasn’t looking at any of the jumps and was picking up canter a stride or two out on all the ones I had brought him back to trot for. I don’t remember the last time he felt so confident jumping!
We jumped clear! But with everyone else taking shorter lines than us, I wasn’t sure how well we would place. Watching the rest of the class I was kicking myself slightly for not taking some of the shorter lines. But I also know I would be even more frustrated with myself if I had taken a shorter line and Scottie didn’t get enough time to judge the fence. We have been coming to these evening jumping shows to regain our confidence after all! However, with only 2 other clear rounds, we managed to place 3rd in this championship class, just missing out on a sash! I’m so proud of him!
Despite how well Scottie had been jumping, I decided not to do the 55cm class this time. I know he jumped it easily last month. But because I’m not 100% sure what is going on with him right now, I didn’t want to push him. I don’t think he has done anything major, or he would be lame trotting up for the vet and it probably wouldn’t go with exercise. But I do think he has a bit of a niggle somewhere. He has probably tweaked his back playing in the field and the fact that it has improved by itself this week, I’m pretty sure it isn’t my saddle. I’m going to give him a couple of days off and ride again Sunday and see how he is. I will then decide if he needs a visit from the back lady or saddler. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it is something which will improve by itself since it’s so minor.