The last few weeks have been quite intense; highs (Jack and I qualified for HOYS), lows (34 degree heat stopping play) and some middly stuff too (nearly falling off at a cross pole.) It’s been quite a lot for my brain to process to be honest. I found myself drifting back into my low place and wondering why. As someone commented on my Facebook “You’ve just qualified for HOYS, that would put me in a pretty good place.” It probably should, but, I am not a fan of the word ‘should’. It hasn’t.
So, why the low place? The answer is faking it. I am 100% pure fake. To explain, let me tell you about Kent County…
Kent County has always been a special show to me. First year, my unknown 14hh SHP was pulled in third and after a cracking show came up to be the unexpected winner. The second time, I was on this unknown little coloured pony, American Pie, and heard other riders in the collecting ring saying “their no threat” which powered me on enough to win the class (I was pretty determined back then). Third year, the now fairly well known coloured pony would be against one of the most beautiful ponies in the country, Boycott Tonic, but by scoring 20 out of 20 for my jumping, 10 out of 10 for my show, we beat her…….
I tried not to think about it too much but it felt a bit fairytale scenario to go and win again after a 9 year break and everything I have had to overcome to get there. But, it was a HOYS qualifier (the first I had ever jumped with Jack) so I repressed that feeling far far down. I used my ‘one fence at a time’ technique and broke the show down into manageable chunks; get to the show, walk the course, get ready, warm up, go in, jump the first fence, jump the second fence….
After jumping clear, I was delighted and then I was told I was one of only two clears. “But Justine was in it, Rory was in it, Vicky was in it…. what!?” Brain overload. Then tractors had to go into the arena to clear the fences meaning a delay, meaning time to think. Brain overload x 2. I then also realised I would have to go around the massive county show ring with the others, cantering round a big open space with other horses. Major anxiety trigger for me and likely to excite the ginger!
“Mum, I can’t do this. Can we go home?”
Yep, I was one of only two clears at Kent County Show and I didn’t want to do, what is arguably the easy bit!
Thankfully, the Mothership is a champion coach and managed to get my focus back. She gave me my next mini step: just go into the arena and walk round once…..Somehow Jack and I both kept it together and were pulled forward to win.
Let me make one thing clear: Jack is exceptionally handsome, wonderfully talented and 100% deserves to qualify. No doubt in my mind that he is one of the best horses in the country, I knew that the moment I saw him 4 years ago. I won’t have anyone say any different.
I, however, am a massive fake who is lucky to be on board. That is how I feel. How many other worker competitors at HOYS are breaking things down to one fence at a time? How many other worker competitors at HOYS struggle to canter around a big field? How many other worker competitors at HOYS are literally making it up every step of the way and feel like every jump they get over successfully is pure fluke? Is a 5ft2, mother of one, amateur, pony mad, overthinker who’s leg swings back when she jumps what you picture when you think HOYS competitor?
But then I had a breakthrough. I saw this photo:
The mother and I recently went to Hickstead for the Derby meeting. The pure joy of having a few days interrupted horsey, hicksteady wonderfulness was enough to put a smile on my face! For the whole wonderful week, I was pretending to be a show jumper. My beige jodphurs, velvet hat and shirt and tie alone made me stand out from the crowd. There was no blending in with the natives for me! But I was totally ok with that. We were on fire, we all had smiles on our faces, it didn’t matter what happened, we were just doing us.
So, Jack and I have qualified for HOYS. In my head, I am 100% faking it but that’s ok. We are just going to continue doing us, in whatever costume it involves and see where we can go. If I can pretend to be Elsa, then why not pretend to be a ‘rider’?
Who knows, maybe the whole class at HOYS feels exactly the same? Maybe we are all just faking it? Maybe I’m not breaking the mould, maybe the mould is a made up thing all together?
Thank you to everyone for cheering me on and who continues to. It means more than you will ever know.