Competitive Nature

 

I don’t think I have one.

This morning brought a mini-bus of students from another college to compete in an inter-college competition. The day was split into three parts; dressage, a quiz and show-jumping. Two students from each college would compete in each discipline and score points for their team depending on how well they did.

My first task of the day was to wash the significantly filthy Connor in preparation for the dressage. Due to the fact that his legs are white and he was mostly brown and green, Cha and I figured it would be sensible to bath him as early as we could to give him the chance to dry before being tacked up. We then headed over to a classroom to greet the other college and go over the rules and allocate horses for the ridden rounds.

Hearts were in mouths during the horse allocation as we had two horses in the mix that we were slightly concerned about. The hope was that our team would end up pulling those two out of the hat, but we had no way of knowing how it would work out until we opened the envelope. The other team picked their envelope first and Tillie opened ours while the rest of us watched. As she laid the slips of paper out on the table, we saw the names we’d been hoping for. We all breathed a sigh of relief as Louise and Abi picked up the slips for Africa and Tilly.

What we soon came to realise, however, is that both of our riding teams had ended up with the more complicated and difficult horses. We were in for a rough ride. (Pun intended.)

Having tacked up Connor and lent Tillie my new fancy chaps, Cha and I walked over to the indoor school with Connor and Tillie to steward for her while she warmed up. Louise and Africa went to compete first, followed by one of the other college on Victor. What was lovely was seeing Victor allowing his true nature out to play. My god that horse can do dressage!

Cha and I accompanied Tillie and Connor back over, making sure her girth was as tight as possible before she went to complete her test. I took a few pictures for her and her Mum, so they could see the pair of them looking smart and despite Connor being a bit of a pain in the arse, Tillie handled herself well and kept her cool.

Fairly soon after the dressage tests, Erin came to tell me that we’d be doing the quiz a bit earlier than originally planned. After cleaning Connor’s tack, I found Hollie and we made our way back to the classroom comparing notes on how little preparation we’d done for this quiz. In the end, it was nothing to be concerned about as we knew the answers to pretty much everything. We missed a couple of things as we ran short on the bit families and the points of contact of the bit, but the rest all seemed fairly straightforward and we answered confidently. The end result found us victorious. Hurrah.

While in the classroom, Hollie and I checked the dressage scores and were disappointed to find that our girls had been bested by the other college. We’d all kind of expected the girl on Victor to get the top score, but Africa and Louise coming third was something of a surprise as we’d thought they’d ridden a better test than the other girl, but the scores did not reflect that. Our performance in the quiz then, was sorely needed by this point.

After lunch, we prepared for the show-jumping round. Cha and I found ourselves together again, manning the jump in the warm-up arena. Fortunately, Kelly came along to maintain control over everyone in there, which ended up being much needed. Poor old Abi had a seriously tough job as Tilly decided to throw herself about a bit on her approaches into the jumps. She was being rather naughty, but Abi handled it all very well. Everyone headed over to the competition arena together so that they could all watch the course being ridden.

One of the other college went first with Midge, who threw herself at the fences in an extremely fast and flat manner. Abi followed with Tilly, and ended up having a small disagreement when the pony decided to rear and buck about on the approach to one of the fences. She remained on board and kicked on for all England, managing to turn the pony around and complete the course without another hitch. The girl who then went with Maisey gave us all slight heart failure as they motor-biked around corners and belted around like tomorrow was a thing of fantasy. Sasha and Lucy rode last, and had a lovely controlled round despite knocking a couple of poles.

What seemed slightly unfair at the end, was that our two girls who rode so beautifully and handled everything that was thrown at them, taking it all in their stride, ended up coming second to the others based purely on the fact that the other girls blazed hell for leather around the arena, jumping as flat and long as I’ve ever seen. It was a real shame to be honest, because Abi had a real tricky pony on her hands, and Sasha rode her horse properly, getting her to jump rather than flatten.

Trouble is, however, that despite all the slightly unfair leanings of the competition, I ended up not really minding that the other college won. I wanted to see our girls do well, and so I was gutted for them when they came in lower than the others. But it wasn’t about the competition from where I was standing. I know how nervous they were, and how much they wanted to do well and not let everyone down. I hope they don’t feel like that’s what happened, because they rode brilliantly and did us proud.

I get competitive about stupid stuff, like board games and silly races between friends and such. But actual competitions have never really been my cup of tea. I don’t like the pressure that accompanies them, the feeling of panic and rising bile that comes with being up against other people for real. I hate it. The adrenalin rush that comes with competitive events does nothing but make me feel nauseated and dizzy. I much prefer the adrenalin that comes from galloping fast with the wind rushing past me, or from jumping a 2’9″ grid without reins, or other such fun things. From a competition? No sir.

One day I might have the balls to compete at a low level, get a feel for it. But at the moment the thought does not appeal. Besides…you have to have a horse to be able to compete. And I haven’t managed that one yet either.

We’ll see. Maybe one day I’ll develop a competitive nature. I’m not convinced. But I admire those who have it. So those girls who competed for us today? They did great, and I hope they’re proud of themselves for what they achieved.

Good stuff ladies!

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