Competition Memories

by Hannah Owen

We all know the horribly disappointing feeling when you leave the arena kicking yourself for that pole down, or that fluffed transition right in front of the judge’s box….When you think to yourself ‘NUMPTY!!! I can ride better than that…’ Just think, how many times have you launched into a tirade about the stupid mistake you made, or the thing that spooked the horse?

I am casting my mind back a few years, and feeling happier in what I have achieved over the years with a bargain basement pony. So, I love the pony, the pony is not yet so in love with me, and can’t really see the point in doing what the feeble little child on her back is asking. So she doesn’t. Not even close to it.

If my memory serves me correctly, the first attempt at a competition was a very small showjumping class. Well, show jumping is a loose term, as I don’t believe we managed to jump a single fence. Instead we cantered around and around the arena, getting faster and faster, missing every single fence!!! A graceful retirement was made when I eventually stopped, or rather, she got bored.

That day however was spectacularly overshadowed by the day I lost my saddle. Yep, lost my saddle. This time, we did manage to jump a fence, then a certain naughty grey pony threw in a dirty stop, tipped me off, snapped a girth strap and left the arena. So pony was in one place, saddle was in another and I wasn’t with either of them. How undignified!

Of course there was the attempt at dressage too, which showed impressive balance in canter from the pony and an aptitude for unnecessary flying changes, as shown when we cantered the entirety of N21. Thankfully the judge had a sense of humour and commented ‘Well ridden, you never left the arena’.

So, we start to achieve a bit more, and manage to jump complete courses, including jump-offs on a regular basis. I must have got too sure in myself, because we attempted an ODE. Dressage was OK, scoring around 52%, we did manage the right paces at the right time! The show jumping was good. Onto the cross country. Started well, good first few fences, got into a rhythm, then came the water. Clearly I was too sure of her… She stopped. Lots of times. Cue my poor father paddling up to his knees in dirty water. Still she wouldn’t go. Eventually she deigned to be led into the water, at which point her ears pricked and she leapt through. She’s never had a problem since. I’m sure it was to bring us back to earth with a bump.

I’m absolutely 100% sure there are many many more escapades that I am working hard to forget, as I’m sure we all have, but now when I leave the arena, I try not to berate myself about a knocked pole, I try to think ‘Well at least I’m still sat on top!’ And you know what? I’d still rather take my bargain basement pony home than anything else out there!

Equally, I’m certain I will go through all of this again, but at least with the humility and hindsight to know that it WILL get better and one day I will laugh.

Past Issues

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