After nearly four months since our last show jumping competition, it’s safe to say I was very keen to get back out in the ring and the State Show Jumping Championships, held by the Northern Victorian Show Jumping Club in Shepparton, certainly didn’t disappoint!
With so long between competitions and Fergie having had time off due to a stone bruise in February we made the executive decision to drop back to the lower heights and just jump in the 90cm and 1m classes so we were looking forward to a relaxing few days away. We were lucky enough to have the help of turnout-queen Elouise Lando who had Fergie trimmed up and turned out to perfection and after a super jumping lesson on Tuesday afternoon we headed off on Thursday feeling in top form.
As I should probably know by now, nothing ever runs perfectly to plan with horses and to our horror just one hour into our two and a half hour trip we saw flashing lights behind us and were pulled over on the side of the highway. The man driving behind us had noticed that one of our float tyres was smoking profusely and was kind enough to pull us over, suspecting that our float axel was broken. Upon further inspection he found that the centre bolt of the spring attached to the axel had sawn apart and so we limped the car and float with one horse, two dogs, two people and four days’ worth of clothes, food, bedding etc on board the 25km to Seymour and prayed that we would find a mechanic who was still open late on a Thursday afternoon.
Whilst the first workshop we tried was closed, a local directed us to a float and trailer repair centre. We pulled in at 4:55pm and the men at Seymour Trailers were kind enough to work over time to help us. We unloaded Fergie and she stood very patiently in the car park as they jacked the float up, took the wheel off, replaced the spring and re-attached the axel. An hour later we were back on the road to Shepparton feeling very relieved and grateful – thank you again to Ashley from Seymour Trailers for your generous help! Needless to say we were well and truly thankful to pull into WB Hunter Reserve and tuck Fergie into bed ready to get up and ride in the first class on Friday morning.
The morning of Friday 14th March brought beautiful weather and even better show jumping! Alf Parsons was the course builder for the second arena across the three days of competition and he continually built kind, inviting courses which encouraged the younger horses in these smaller classes and provided the perfect opportunity for a confidence-building show for Fergie and I. The second arena was run on a velodrome and provided our first experience of jumping on grass. A credit to the Northern Victorian Show Jumping Club who had put a lot of time and effort into improving the surface of the velodrome, it rode very well.
Whilst many of the young horses were spooking at the carpet they had to walk over to cross over the concrete walkway into the warm up area, Fergie took it in her stride and was able to give a few others a lead into the arena. Once in the warm up she felt responsive and listening well. She maintained this in the ring and produced a good clear round to be through to the jump off. We were also clear in the jump off and placed third – a great start to the show after the rocky road getting there! In our second round for the day we were not so on top of our game and a lack of rider organisation RE our lead changes cost us a rail. Nonetheless I was thrilled with how Fergie jumped and walked away from the day excited for the rest of the competition.
Saturday morning again promised a beautiful day but unfortunately Fergie and I were a bit too busy enjoying the sunshine and didn’t get organised enough for our fences and had a silly stop – my fault I’ll admit. Whilst this was a bit of a shame, the NVSJC kindly offered training rounds upon completion of the competitive rounds on the velodrome so we were able to jump around a course and remind ourselves what we are supposed to do! This round was clear and very tidy so both of our confidence was restored heading into the last day of competition.
Saturday night saw the weather gods turn against us and boy did it rain! By Sunday morning the velodrome was too wet and boggy to provide a quality jumping surface and so the NVSJC committee opted to move the classes scheduled for this ring onto the sand arena. With the help of a number of riders we quickly set up a new course on the sand and competition was underway. The open 90cm-1m class was first up and Fergie felt super. She jumped a nice clear round and was called back for the jump off. We rode tenth of the twenty horses to jump off and with no clear rounds on the board so far, I opted for longer, straighter lines in the hope of a clear round. Fergs delivered a super clear round to put us in front of the competition. Ingrid Abrahams, Toni Scattergood and Melissa Froesch also jumped clear after us and so our slower time saw us drop to third place – a result I was thrilled with.
As a reward for being such a superstar, Fergie finished the weekend in the Equissage trade stand as a demo pony for Katie – a job Ferg was all too willing to do! She loves her Equissage and was even helping Katie find the ‘right spot’ to relax all her muscles after a big weekend of jumping before it was back to the float for the final pack up and trip home.
I would like to thank the NVSJC for a great weekend of jumping. Your grounds were fantastic and consistently good courses provided for a top class show. Thanks also the sponsors of the show, including Prydes Easifeed, Horse Hay, Equissage, Equine Health Science and Wessel Drilling . Finally thank you to my super mum/groom/dog walker/pony holder/taxi driver/pole picker-up-er-er for putting in an enormous effort over the four days to get us there, look after us and bring us home – you’re the best! I loved being out jumping again and am looking forward to travelling down to Lang Lang for Port Philip Show Jumping Club’s Autumn Championships this weekend.