We get a precious handful of golden days over a lifetime of hard work with horses… some are private moments… some are public triumphs. This photograph was from a horse show at Donida Farms in Washington state. It happened to be my 23rd birthday, and I was showing my friend and client’s talented and lovely jumper, Coupe de Ville, affectionately known as Munch. This was our second day of a two day show, and my first show in the jumper ring. The first day had not gone well; in my first Power & Speed class I had somehow missed crossing the finish line, an embarrassing blunder! In these types of classes, if you have a clear first round, a buzzer sounds soon after you cross the finish line indicating that you can begin your timed jump-off course. I had finished (I thought) my clear first round and was waiting for the buzzer… and waiting … and waiting… I looked up at the electronic scoreboard and my time was still running. People watching began shouting “cross the finish line!” but I didn’t know where it was so I began cantering around aimlessly hoping to cross it. By the time I did I was so far over time I was eliminated and mortified.
So… day two I wanted to prove I was not an idiot and I belonged in the jumper ring! My first goal was to give Munch a positive, calm, and confidence building show for his owner, Barb. She was going to be competing him herself soon, and wanted him to have a no pressure experience navigating a big busy show environment. Munch was talented and experienced, he knew his job as a jumper and could get a little keyed up especially when he heard the buzzer for the jump-off. He knew his job then was to be quick and careful! Our first class of the second day went beautifully, but we were too slow to be in the ribbons. At least I crossed the finish line! The head trainer gave me the instructions I had been hoping for as we prepped for the second class: “give him the same careful steady ride in the first round, and if he’s calm and listening, go ahead and let him go a bit in the jump-off.” I had been studying this course… I knew if we were handy in our turns and a little quicker we could win the class. Munch never touched a rail, his turns were flawless, his lines were steady, his mind was right with me and we never missed a distance. We won the class, and the course remains a golden moment in time for me when everything between me, my horse, and the job at hand just clicked. It was a birthday I will never forget.