Yesterday I competed at Blue Star Farm in the 0.9m jumpers for the first time in a long while. I've been going to shows as a coach and spending most of my riding time at home developing new horses that it'd been way too long since I've zipped around a jumper course.
It was great fun to be back in the show ring and also a wake up call that both me and my jumper, Thetis, are a bit out of shape! We had 2 rails down from being a bit tired and off our take off spot.
The big thing that struck me was what an odd man out I felt like. I felt seriously under tacked as I rode with no bit, crop, spur, martingale or tight nose band. I was a partner with my horse and we moved swift and quick without head tossing or pulling on the reins.
My favourite moment happened right before we entered the ring for the speed class and someone said to another competitor "no one can make that turn its too tight from the jump" and moments later Thetis and I easily made the turn and rode to a 1st place finish.
Several people commented their amazement how effortlessly I could steer my horse and make turns no one else could.....and I had way less equipment.
Another great moment was in the 0.6m jumpers when student Alexandra and I rode the stake class and smoked everyone else....both of us bit less without the crop and spurs. (I rode one class in the baby jumpers unjudged)
It's a fantastic feeling to show everyone that bit less can be as effective or better and that focusing on building an understanding and partnership with horses works.
Alexandra was 1st in all her classes and champion. I was 1st, 3rd and 7th and I couldn't be happier :-) I expect that if I practice more regularly before next show that with better fitness we can get even better results.....or at least I'm looking forward to try!
I hope as more time goes by we see more people losing the extra equipment....so the horse can spend less time fighting the rider and more time focusing on the rider which we saw some of today.
I dont hate bits etc but I do think many people use them incorrectly and would benefit from getting out of their horse's mouth.
Wish us well next time!