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It was cold and dark when I woke up on Saturday (which felt odd in and of itself, Saturday horseshowing), and I think it only got colder and damper as the day went on.  My ideal goal for the day was to actually get to show my horse in something, before the forecast rain/ice/snow started.  So I hustled to the showgrounds early, and got there shortly after things were getting kicked off at 8AM, to turn in my coggins/health paperwork to the office, get my number, and swap from my end-of-day hunter classes into some jumper classes that looked like they were going to run early.  When I checked the counts on Horseshowing.com before leaving the house, there weren’t a lot in the 18″/2’/2’3 classes, so I signed us up for the 2’6 division.  And then went to putter around.

Trying to stay warm was more difficult than planned, even sitting in my truck, frantically memorizing the course maps I’d photographed.  Even with UnderArmor under my show shirt and softshell coat (not a riding softshell, actual softshell winter coat), I was cold.  Cally was getting cranky on the trailer (where I figured she’d prefer to stay, out of the cold wind), since she devoured most of her two flakes of hay by the time 10:30 rolled around, and they were still not even halfway through the 2′ division.  At that point,I looked at the radar and saw the rain was getting close, and figured, screw it, we can go in and do the 2’3 division.  The main goal is to get over some different fences not at home anyway.  Back to the office I went, swapped in to the 2’3, pulled Cally off the trailer, got ready, and got warmed up, still before the 2′ classes were done.  I got us first in the jump order, and we waited for them to reset things for us, and I went over the course about 8 more times.

Then in to the ring we went.  Cally was on High Alert, as it became apparent we were somewhere that she was going to get to Jump All The Things, and she hasn’t gotten to do that in a while, and this was an odd new covered ring, with raised, enclosed judges boxes on the sides, and bleachers, and a lot of people watching at one end of the ring, and lots of things to watch out the sides of the ring.  So we were about 5 strides out from the first fence before she really locked on to it and realized “HEY, we get to jump things!” and just was a little hesitant on what was up with things, so the first fence and the first line were chippier than a bag of Utz.  Then we had a short, sharp turn to a skinny at fence 4, and it was like she turned on and realized we were GETTING TO DO A WHOLE COURSE YAY! and was no longer so wiggly looky at stuff, and was focusing on the fences and going where I asked.

But the first part of this Timed First Jumpoff round was only 9 fences, so by that point we’d been a little too slow getting ourselves in gear and on our games, and while we finished clean, we ended up with 4 time faults.  Which actually led to us finishing behind people with a rail and a stop, but were zippy.  I’m OK with that, because we weren’t there to be fast, we were there to remember how jumping a round should feel, and get our collective brains back in Horse Show Mode.  The fact we got a pretty 7th place ribbon was icing on the cake.

Since I knew the rounds were going to take forever, I walked back to the truck, texted Holly to let her know how we did, and grabbed Cally’s cooler, and let her mosey around without a rider while we waited for the first class to finish up. Once I knew how we did in the class, we had a nice discussion about how pretty the purple 7th place ribbons are (they really are, I LOVE getting 7th place ribbons!) and how gross the brown 8th place ribbons are (seriously, is there not a better color than poop? Like burgundy or grey or mint or something?).

Then we had our super long, 15-jump Power & Speed trip. Known to me as “OMG, Jen, for the love of all things holy, remember WHERE YOU ARE GOING!!!” I was pretty solid on the Power part, but slightly worried I’d forget on the Speed section. But no worries, we went in and put in a really solid trip, not chippy, just nicely forward, with a listening, responsive horse who happily did a nice rollback from 10 to 11 to begin our speed round, and nailed an awesome inside turn to fence 15, that I really had some second thoughts about after I asked for it and realized how close I was going to be cutting it. Thankfully, it was only 2’3 and Cally went right on over like the star she is.

I then went straight back to the trailer, got her untacked, groomed, loaded, and another text to Holly about how well she’d done.  Then as I walked back over to the ring to see how things were going (I could sort of hear the scores from the trailer, but couldn’t remember our Speed time, so I thought we might get lucky again) and chat with a friend who was going in the 2’6, the sky opened up and the cold rain started.  I was glad the jumpers were in the covered ring and that I’d gotten all packed up before the gross weather started.  I was also glad I’d left my show coat on under my softshell coat for extra warmth, because BRR.

When they announced the placings, what did I end up with?  8th, poopy brown, naturally.

I watched Gwen’s round, which went great, then hustled over to the office through the precip, which definitely included some ice, and watched the poor miserable juniors hacking in it, from the office window as I checked out.

Cally was deservedly happy to get back to the barn, into a heavier blanket, and tucked into a stall with a big pile of hay, like the rest of her barnmates.  She also got a few mints for a job very well done, and then I hightailed it home, and watch the temperature reading on the truck continue to drop as I drove.

While it was certainly miserable weather for horse showing, we got out, and accomplished our one big objective for the day–cleanly jump around a couple courses not at home, and not get lost on course.  And we pretty much avoided the worst of the foul weather.  It wasn’t exactly the outing I had planned earlier in the week, but it got me some good experience in the jumper ring, which is also a plus, as it’s a big weak spot for me.  If I can remember those courses, I should be OK with the medal courses during the year.  And now that we’ve got that first outing done with, and had it go well, I feel like we’re ready to really go show seriously now.

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