A Sleepy Return to Showing

Yesterday was the Halloween event preceding today’s show. After work I went out and was treated to sparkling princesses, Spidermen, a baby elephant and all sorts of characters in between taking pony rides, a good number for the first time. The stalls were decorated with pumpkins, blinking lights and cobwebs and for 50 cents the kids could buy a cup of chopped carrots or an ice cream cone of peppermint treats to feed any poor starved horse in the aisle. There were also treats for the kids (of course) and a ring toss game with alluring prizes like a free riding lesson. Given the lack of advertising, there was a surprisingly steady stream of people and hopefully next year the weather will cooperate and the haunted woods will be possible.

Then today, as mentioned in my last entry, was the schooling show. I got out there before ten and helped with random things like hanging a pool noodle trap element for the trail class and re-setting the schooling jumps. I was sharing Divine for the day with the teen who leases her, so helped her get ready for the costume class that came well before I rode the mare. Once it was my turn, I realized that my equitation class was not exactly like IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) and I did, in fact, have a pattern in addition to just meandering along the rail and changing direction. We got it figured out, though it wasn’t pretty and Divine was the laziest I have ever seen her!

This continued into dressage, where we actually had more competition than just ourselves. I did the Introductory C test, which at first I was sure I would do from memory, but at the last minute decided it’d be better to have trainer MS call it for me. We had a break in the canter which was unlike her, but otherwise I have no complaints for a first test. The highlight was a 7 for our medium walk and I’m cool with a 59.5% final score, just leaves plenty of room for improvement!

Last was jumping, which is where the title comes in. I entered in the 2′ – 2’3″ section, and red mare (Divine) was a total star for me. The course had all sorts of fun ribbons blowing off the jumps, an actual coffin under number five, little planks painted with pumpkin faces under another, and a literal spider courtesy of CD set up in the giant puddle at the far end of the arena for the Gambler’s Choice which we definitely did not participate in (though several brave souls did).

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We flew through this with relative ease and I left the arena feeling great, albeit a bit wobbly from the long day. I hopped off to help unwrap adjust the stirrups for H so she could ride in the Gambler’s Choice, and once done went to my car to put on some extra layers. As I was walking, I mentally went back through the course and realized I didn’t remember doing jump number 6, which was silly because we had done all the jumps. Hadn’t we? Thinking a little more, I realized I didn’t remember the ten or so seconds between 5 and 7 at all and the little pit in my stomach dropped a few feet deeper. I returned to the outdoor and quickly confirmed the obvious with the lesson girls that I’d completely bypassed the jump.

What’s sticking with me isn’t my low placing (it’s a schooling show so no cares) or the fact that I fudged the course (although that’s annoying), but *how* I fudged the course. I should have taken a nap at some point today, but I didn’t want to take one in my car and I a) didn’t want to tell MS I needed one and b) have her take time to find a place for me to do so. This, even though she knows about my narcolepsy and has health issues of her own. Because I didn’t, I had a microsleep that caused me to literally black out for those brief seconds. I remember losing my balance slightly after jump 5, thinking that was odd and then suddenly we were at 7: my brain taking the pause I hadn’t bothered to give it but graciously keeping my body alert enough to stay on in between.

These events are always super unsettling for me, and I tend to go downhill pretty fast until I give in. I tend to word vomit because I’m focused on finding any other missed moments and the brain fog starts filling in where my attention isn’t, so I’ll say things like “I think I literally fell asleep while jumping” in front of both trainer and the judge post-show and then offer to help clean up when I’m clearly struggling. Cue face palm. Thankfully MS gave me an out and I went home and promptly took an hour nap.

This ended up being a lot longer (and probably a good deal more boring) than I intended but lessons learned from today are…

  1. I still really like showing
  2. annnnd this is why I can’t work a full-time job…
  3. Naps are important.
  4. SCHEDULE THE NAP, then TAKE the nap. please and thank you.
  5. and keep riding, because happiness


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