I went showjumping with Otis on the weekend, and it was actually a hassle free experience.
I hate going showjumping usually because of the vagueness of the schedule and guesswork involved.
There is an element of luck in timing the day, either you end up arriving with hours to spare, or your class has already started and you rush around like a headless chicken and end up jumping blind. Either way, I find it stressful.
I consider going to competitions which say “class five won’t start until after 1pm” as I at least know I don’t need to arrive until 1pm.
This weekend however, was a revelation. It was pre-entry only and, much like an ODE or dressage, times were allocated to each rider.
For me, this is ideal as I never turn up to enter on the day. I need to organise lift, tack, trailer, and Otis, which means I need a week to plan at least. Then of course I feel that if I’ve entered in advance I will be given notice of cancellations, delays or change of arenas, which means I won’t waste my time or get stressed out.
So I found out my times two days in advance and planned accordingly. We arrived approximately an hour before my time, went and got my number, realised I’d forgotten to factor in the time to walk the course in my day, but watching the first few competitors I soon learnt it before getting Otis ready.
Allocating times took the pressure off the car park as the number leaving roughly equated to the number arriving. It also meant the warm up was more organised as people hadn’t rushed to mount at the beginning of their class and fought to put their numbers down first. Likewise, there weren’t hundreds standing around waiting for their turn.
Otis excelled himself whilst I rode the first class like a muppet, and produced a double clear but we were a bit slow. As a typical four faulter I was pleased with him, and not so pleased with myself!
So we had a tea break as we knew when I was next on, and then in with the big boys, Otis (I rode slightly better this time) produced another double clear. I was thrilled as it was our first double clear in 1.00m classes and it feels like it’s all coming together now.
I was very pleased to get third place in that class, as I hadn’t raced round but rather gone for the steady, stylish clear round.
I think having times allocated really helped my nerves, as I do get nervous about showjumping, and with a time in mind I could fine tune my warm up and stay in the zone until my turn. All to often I’m ready to go and find that five people have jumped the queue in front of me and the Otis and I go off the boil.
I know you lose the late entries, but factoring in a bit of spare time must allow entries to be taken the day before. I think the benefits of not overcrowding the car park, warm up and waiting area must outweigh the lost entries. For me, it’s definitely the way forwards for showjumping competitions!