National Junior Championships – Part Five
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   8th May 2011   •   5,726 views   •   17 comments

14 December 2010

National Junior ChampionshipsThat morning, although we had to get up earlier than usual for Finola’s jumping anyway, I was already awake. Call it excitement... Nervousness, perhaps. Whatever it was, it robbed me of my sleep, and all I wanted was to be up in the saddle and out on the course, rather than lying in my warm bed and waiting in suspense. This was, indeed, a suspenseful class – since this would be the class that decided whether or not Finola was going to be on form for this class.

Finola. She is a magnificent animal – that nobody can deny, but unfortunately, she is forever facing some small problem that nobody but her can detect.

Earlier that year, Finola and I had moved up to compete in 1,30m for the first time. Our first show at that height, we placed first – as good a debut as anybody could have hoped for. At our next show, we jumped 1,30m in both classes. The first one we went clear, then took a pole down in the jump off. But regardless, in our first jump-off, our time was 3 seconds faster than the other competitors, and this left us placing fourth despite the pole.

The next class that day, we won again.

After these fantastic results, we faced our first hint of a problem. I felt a strange choppiness in Finola’s stride, and suddenly placing her became difficult. The stride I saw didn’t seem quite as good as before, but Finola still made a plan and kept jumping, though perhaps not as well as before. In this state, we attended the provincial championship. Our first two classes, we took a couple of poles – not bad results, but certainly mediocre. We decided to skip the first class the next day, and save Finola just for the championship class. Here, she jumped around the difficult course with just two poles falling. But thankfully, since it was a championship, we were not yet out of the running. The course was raised to 1,35m, and with the extra challenge, Finola and I tried our absolute best. We went clear that time, our first time jumping 1,35m, and that left us tied for 2nd place in the championship.

National Junior Championships

After that, we found that the reason for Finola’s choppy stride was that the effects of the Legend – something we give her for her joints – had worn off. So we gave Finola her next Legend injection before the next show – one of the bigger and more important shows of the year, held over two days.

The first day, Finola was her best ever – she won both classes easily. Nobody could touch us. And on that positive note, I felt we were well ready to do the same the next day.

But it was not to be, for that was when Finola fell apart.

She went into the first class, jumped the first three jumps perfectly, then stopped and refused to go any further. The same old story as 2009, and 2008 before that.

So we gave her some time off, called in the chiropractor, the physio, an acupuncturist and even a psychic in our desperation to try to fix her up in time to champs.

After that, we entered a show at 1m, and Finola seemed quite happy. But we were still ill prepared to jump a national championship at 1,30m, and it was only on the fleeting hope that Finola might hit her stride at the championship itself that we took her.

This, you see, was the reason for my nervousness. Finola would either go, or she wouldn’t, and nobody knew which it would be.

Thus, I rode into the ring praying that we would at least get past the first jump. And what do you know? We did!

Finola was overjoyed to be in the show ring. She pranced around and tugged, then leaped into canter and grabbed the bit when I told her it was go-time. We found our stride, and I set her up for the first jump, willing her to take me over. Finola dashed forward, and leaped over it with ease. After that jump, I don’t think I’ve ever smiled more during a course. I just couldn’t stop grinning at the thought that my little mare had managed to come through for me, despite all the odds being against her.

We were a little rusty and slightly out of synch, so it was a messy round. We got too close to the third jump, and took the pole. At two other jumps on the course, similar errors occurred. At one point, Finola even dashed sideways around a turn, and ended up running out of a jump. That was when my smile vanished, but thankfully she jumped it willingly when I presented her to it again, and continued to complete the rest of the course.

That left us with 16 penalties. Certainly not a good result for us, but just reaching the end of that course was enough for me, since it left me confident that Finola would get better and better as the show went on!

Well, after that Finola was walked out and given a well deserved rest, and then it was Bronze’s turn. None of us truly expected the legendary ‘Chicken horse’ to complete his first class at this show, despite the fact that it was only a tiny 90cm. Bronze has never been to a national championship before. In fact, he’d never even done showjumping out of Province. And besides, any new jump or any new venue always scares him and makes him end up stopping – since he just isn’t the bravest of horses when it comes to the colourful, horse-eating show jumps. With cross country he’s quite happy, but jumping is different to Bronze.

So, with low hopes but positive thoughts I entered the arena and rode him strongly through the course.

Then came a rather big surprise. Bronze, the horse notorious for spooking at each and every jump on the course, went through the entire thing without any hesitance whatsoever! The thought of refusing didn’t even cross his mind, and he was certainly not his lazy self. I even had to hold him back at some points!

He ended up taking a pole, but just the fact that he’d been willing to jump all these new jumps left me utterly elated. My big horse did me proud! And who knows, if we can get him into this state of mind again, there might be a future for him as a showjumper yet…

Though thankfully he’s a brilliant enough event horse that it doesn’t matter either way.

So, overall, this was a very successful day. Both horses were good, I was happy, and we were all ready to take on the next day of the show!
No Walkin Farms9  
Another brillant article. I enjoyed reading it. :)
  May 8, 2011  •  4,163 views
I love hearing about your lovely ponies!! Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us!!
  May 8, 2011  •  4,125 views
T W I  
Poor Finola! I hope you guys can get back on track and start winning again. I'm glad she did so well in this class!
Sounds like you had some great results. Good for Bronze! =]
  May 8, 2011  •  4,171 views
Fantasy Farms  
I have used Legend on a few of my horses and it has helped so much!
  May 8, 2011  •  4,638 views
*dies* I love your fluffss!!!!!
  May 8, 2011  •  4,126 views
That's too bad about Nola. She was really rocking those shows on her good days. Hopefully Death By Chocolate will rise to the occasion and turn out to be just as good (or better) as the wonderful Nola. :D
  May 9, 2011  •  4,580 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Good article!
  May 9, 2011  •  4,164 views
Clair L  
loved it(: more more(:
  May 9, 2011  •  4,253 views
Another great Article

Well Done!
  May 9, 2011  •  4,122 views
GReat article! You always describe things so well! I feel like I'm riding with you...that omniscient presence over your shoulder! :)
  May 9, 2011  •  4,143 views
T E M P E S T  
Great article!
  May 9, 2011  •  4,165 views
MS Horses  
You are such a talented jumper! All your horses are beautiful! Great story!
  May 9, 2011  •  4,372 views
Seven Sins  
Lovely article
  May 9, 2011  •  4,145 views
Glad Finola got better.
You know, my horse refused the first 3 jumps in the show last time also, and refused to go on. I do not get it. Can you message me sometime.
I love your articles!
And good job to Bronze!
Congrats for you and your horses!
  May 11, 2011  •  4,152 views
You guys looked great in those photos!
  May 12, 2011  •  4,313 views
This atricle is brilliant! :D
  May 17, 2011  •  4,121 views
great article. i enjpyed it
  Jul 26, 2011  •  4,121 views
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