The VS outbreak that has kept us hunkered down for the past month looks like it’s finally starting to abate (knock on wood). The infection rate in our area has slowed almost to a halt, and most of the quarantined facilities in the county have been released. I’m not yet ready to declare that we’ve escaped unaffected, and I probably won’t be ready to say that until the flies die in like… December… but things aren’t looking nearly as scary as they were a few weeks ago when there were 50 quarantined facilities in our county. And – the vet cleared us for travel! We weren’t under official quarantine since none of our horses have been infected, it was just a “it’s probably best to stay home til this blows over” type of thing, but I wanted to do whatever the vet thought was best.
So naturally, the first thing I did was book a jump lesson. On Saturday we borrowed a pole exercise from Sally Cousins as prep, which went ok. Henry was a little rude a few times, trying to take over. Right now I find myself sitting on a cocky horse that is feeling a bit semi-feral from his vacation, full of beans, and REALLY ready to get back to doing something fun. This led to a few discussions about being polite.
Which… basically continued into the next day’s lesson.
The high on Sunday was 102, so in an effort to avoid baking Henry alive, I scheduled a 7:30am lesson. This required getting up at 4, driving to the barn, feeding him, hitching up, loading, driving to Trainer’s, warming up, and being ready to jump at 7:30, so that I could try to be back at the barn by 10:30 before it got blazing hot. It was humid as hell for our lesson, neither of us could breathe, but at least it wasn’t 100 degrees yet.
It was one of those lessons where nothing really went right. I should have known I was doomed when I first picked up the trot and he proceeded to prance around the ring like he was A Fancy Horse. He is not a fancy horse. It rarely ends well for me when he pretends to be one. You would think that having very little actual oxygen in the air to breathe (I hate humidity, in case I haven’t said that enough in the past) would take some of the wind out of his sails but no. I chunked my whip pretty quickly, lest I die.
Over fences he was still being rude, and I couldn’t see a distance to save my life. We got to do a lot of jumping and halting or jumping and circling. Struggle bus – we weren’t just on board, we were driving it. We kept the jumps small and the lesson short, since it was the first time back since Coco, and the word “rusty” doesn’t really even begin to cover it. It was shit. Let’s just be honest. It was shit.
So now Henry gets to have a little bit of a rideability boot camp and I need to get myself sorted. Back in gear we go. Trainer and I agreed that I should try the Bevel bit that I bought a while back and never actually used, to see if a touch of leverage might help me out until this creature becomes less feral. I don’t like going harsher in the mouthpiece, so here’s hoping that a teeny bit of leverage will get his attention enough to help me out a bit.
We also talked about the fall season, which just… isn’t coming together for me. There are two shows in September, which are always sketchy because it’s still usually pretty hot here. Like, it could definitely still be 95-100 degrees by the end of September, and the ground is likely to still be rock hard. I’ll be out of the country for the first event of the season anyway, and the second one is about a week after I get back. That feels like too much of a rush, especially not knowing if it’s still going to be super hot. I can’t run my heat-intolerant horse at Prelim in that weather and I don’t really want to trailer him 12 hours round trip in it either.
I was originally planning on two events in October, a couple weeks apart. Then I found out that the first of those two events isn’t actually offering Prelim anymore. Womp womp. There went that whole plan. The second of those two is Pine Hill, which I’m still game for. It’s closest to home and we ran there successfully in the spring. But other than Pine Hill there are only 3 more events in the area: one only goes through Training, one is the weekend after Pine Hill (not running this horse Prelim two weekends in a row), and the last is at Texas Rose, which my trainer can’t attend and I think is too big/technical/still-scares-the-breeches-off-me-a-little to want to tackle at Prelim alone. I didn’t really want to do that one this year anyway.
So… that season died quick.
But, it does present a good opportunity to take some time to work on our weakest phase: showjumping. I can take more lessons, and there are plenty of jumper shows that we can hit, and maybe a few combined tests. We can keep schooling the XC to make progress… the shows aren’t a necessary component to improvement in that department. It’s not the most fun or glamorous way to spend the fall season, but it’s probably what’s best. I’m not trying to qualify for anything or make it to any particular show, so I have the luxury of taking the time to work on our weaknesses. May as well take it.
Jumper folk, it looks like I’ll be joining you for a while. I flat out refuse to wear tan breeches anymore though, that’s a step too far. You get casual navy or formal white, there is no in between.