The show was indoors in a fairly small arena. Based on how strong Cuna was in our last lesson, I opted to move him up to his normal bit, a rubber pelham with connectors. I thought he would be a bit up at the show, despite the fact his owner assured me he'd be fine. (Her definition of "fine" and mine don't always concur.)
He warmed up nicely. I was really glad I had the bigger bit for the first 30 seconds in the outdoor warmup arena that was surrounded by donkeys and blowing shrubs. Since I tend to not use my hands much, I headed to the show arena and thought nothing of it.
We went right in for our first class, the 2'3" jumpers. Last time we came to this show series, I had Izzy and the 2'3" looked so terrifying, I didn't know how I'd get through. Looking between Cuna's red ears, I thought the jumps were rather unimpressive. We started out ok over the first fence, but over the second I tried to steady him too much and caught him with the pelham. He gave me a head fling as we cantered nicely to the third. I needed to push him forward into the contact, but I was leery of actually using the contact because of the bit.
We made it over the third, but because I didn't want to put my leg on (because -I- was avoiding the contact), we had a runout at the fourth. All of a sudden, I was like "Oh, right. Hands in the neck and give him a kick". I did, and it smoothed out quite a bit.
When we came out, I promptly dropped Cuna to a loose ring french link.
He says, "I told you I didn't need a bigger bit".
We went back into the warm up and worked on taking a connection and moving off both of my legs at all three gaits. Nothing strenuous, but I wanted to remind myself that I could ride.
When Steph asked if I wanted to jump the 2'3"ish vertical she had set up, I said yes. I realized that I was no longer riding around avoiding eye contact and hoping should wouldn't call on me--I wanted to jump the jump to make sure I had Cuna in front of my leg and straight and ready to go back in for our next round.
Time for the 2'6". We cantered to the first fence. I kept a feel of his mouth in my hands and my legs firmly on his sides. I had him forward and balanced in a nice rhythm.
The fence felt effortless. We came around the corner and did the diagonal line. I kept the contact and the line went well.
Go Cuna go!
We came around the corner to the bending line, our nemesis from the last class. I sat up, kicked on, and announced "right leg!" to Cuna. He sailed over both jumps and around the corner to the next line.
Eyes up, hands steady. We jumped in nicely, lost our direction for a minute (hello hands!! please coordinate!), then kicked on. Now to finish over the triple.
Other horses got a short four between the fences. I know Cuna's style and my insecurities entirely too well to think I could hold for four. I kept my chest up and kicked again to make sure I was generating his forward with my leg, not my upper body.
Jump! "One, two, three!" I counted out loud. Jump! "One, two, three!" and we jumped out and crossed the finish line. The (tiny) assembled crowd clapped and cheered for us as the announcer said our time was a 49.1. I patted the old man, thanked the judge, and rode out. Smiles all around.
Look! There is even video.
I watched my friend ride the next round, then headed out with her. Since Cuna is a total trooper, we were keeping the less secure horse company until his next round. We walked around the warmup arena, talking about our rides, our horses, and our progress.
Then I saw Stephanie coming towards us, waving something.
A blue ribbon.
I don't know what the optimum time was, but apparently we were mighty close. We won the 2'6" class in style. I've always loved ribbons, but more than that I was so happy with our round. To get a pretty ribbon for it was just icing on the cake.
Cuna tolerated yet another photo session with several cameras, then was given a hay net and a ridiculous amount of carrots and peppermints for a job well done.