Graduated and Raring to Go: One step back, two steps forward

Heather and Socks' training has been going from strength to strength recently, but after a mishap next week, will they make it to the show jumping areas?

Well, this week has been a bit of a rollercoaster…

We had a little accident. The week before show jumping areas, I was very aware that we had to jump indoors, and I wasn’t sure how Socks was going to take to it. Right, I thought, let’s set up some tight lines in the school and see how she copes with them.

Friends, I’ll admit, I got a little cocky.

I jumped a line that I probably shouldn’t have, and it must have knocked Socks’ confidence a bit (even though, bless her, she jumped it beautifully) because when I turned her to our next fence, she decided it was all too much and stopped, and I fell off.

It was only when Socks turned to run away, as she always does when someone falls off because she thinks she’s in trouble, that I realised that my foot was stuck in the stirrup.

Ah.

Oddly, I was in a strange sense of calm, being dragged across the school by my increasingly flustered little thoroughbred.

I couldn’t wiggle my foot to try and free it in case I made her go faster, and it was only after my right leg got somewhat tangled up in Socks’ back legs I opted for a “Whoaa, Socksy…”

But thankfully, my foot fell out of the stirrup.

I was just limping toward the mounting block to get back on and try again when I noticed that Socks was trying to show me one of her feet, whickering pathetically – blood was running down her hoof. For the first time that day, my heart properly sank.

She must have caught herself with her other foot, because the culprit turned out to be a very small, very thin cut on her coronet band which was promptly cleaned and smothered in anti-bacterial spray.

Happily, both of us are completely sound. My leg is absolutely fine, barring some pretty impressive bruising. I can’t believe how lucky I was. Thinking about what could have happened I could not be more grateful that Socks kept her head. She really is one in a million.

 That’ll teach me, won’t it!

That’ll teach me, won’t it!

I was already fuming that I’d broken my eighteen-month streak of not falling off her, but my next thought was, “If I’ve lost my nerve over this, I’ll be really annoyed!”

So the next day, after a stern telling off from Debbie, which I deserved, Socks and I went for a little stroll.

It was meant to be a quiet walk around to make sure my leg really was fine and that Socks hadn’t lost the plot, but you know, there was a stubble field. We’re still very much best buds.

 Best buds again

Best buds again

We jumped a grid on the Friday, and it was like Tuesday had never happened. Phew!

BRC Winter Showjumping Qualifier, The College Equestrian Centre, Keysoe

The day of areas dawned, and all of us were feeling chilled.

 Mum and Bear having a snooze before my second round

Mum and Bear having a snooze before my second round

That was, until we got there and were informed by the steward that the 90 and the 80 had been switched round, so we were now jumping outside.

After all that, we were outside anyway! I’m not sure I can publish my reaction, but suffice to say it made the steward laugh.

At first I panicked. There were so many distractions outside – the wind in the trees, the people under the veranda, the collecting ring – but as soon as I walked the course I felt ten times better.

We had so much more space, and these were, as I’d hoped, the same fences we’d jumped at clear round last month. My friend Rachel helped us warm up, and before I knew it, it was our turn to jump.

I loved it! For the first time in ages I felt like I could walk a course, make a plan, and then actually be able to ride that plan - as opposed to being so paralysed by fear of Socks stopping that all I did was sit and pray.

We were both such cool customers, bopping round as a nice little team. We just picked up four penalties when I let her get a little bit fast and forward before the double, but did I care? Nope.

I liked the second round even better. It had a lot of odd angles, which really suits the way I like to think when I’m jumping, so that was my thing to focus on.

Sadly the line to the first fence went along the veranda, which was very distracting for Socks so we had the first down but after that sailed round!

 Boing! Thank you so much to Hoof Prints for the fabulous photo! Pic:  Hoofprints

Boing! Thank you so much to Hoof Prints for the fabulous photo! Pic: Hoofprints

Honestly, as far as I’m concerned, we did a double clear just because Socks didn’t stop. And the icing on the cake was that the team, even though we didn’t have a discard score, placed sixth!

I’m so glad I’m part of such a lovely and supportive riding club. Everyone knew how hard Socks and I had worked to get to this point and everyone was so pleased for us – and the day just got better and better as the 110 team got second and the 100 team won! I’ve got my eye on the 90 course for the summer…

Now, of course, I want to jump all the things which is good, because next week Rachel and I are taking Socks and Josh pairs cross country at Poplar Park – I’m so excited!

But first, there’s a week of work to get through.

See you soon!