Show jumping is not just a test of agility but in fact how quickly you can memorise a course in what feels like thirty seconds.
When first arriving at the event, you make a quick pit stop at the Secretary’s tent to collect your number. You take the opportunity to find out when the course walk for your section might be as you’re struggling to tell if the fences up at the moment look like they are set at your height or not.
Lucky for you, the allocated course walk is at a time that works within your schedule so you should be able to get there after your dressage test and on your way back to the lorry park.
Not only do you have to remember how to actually ride and keep your nerves under wraps, but you’re tested on your ability to learn new and complex things in a matter of moments. Course walking is one of the most important parts of the day and it’s the bit you spend the least time on because you’ve literally only got five minutes. That is of course, if you don’t miss it.
Are you third to jump in your section? Yes, then you absolutely need your noble steed ready to go, so don’t leave him/her at the lorry. You can then hand your horse over to a helpful family member so you can try and learn where to go. However, they’ve got distracted by a hat in a nearby stand and are completely out of ear shot. So you’ll just ask a random person to hold your horse instead. They won’t mind.
Once in the arena you’re surrounded by what feels like hundreds of other people, all wearing exactly the same thing, walking in snake formation around the course in a very relaxed manner. Why is everyone so relaxed? Five minutes people!
MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!
Where’s jump 1? Everyone is over there, let’s go there.
So, here are your nine unhelpful thoughts you shouldn’t be thinking about whilst walking the course:
Jump 1 is a standard oxer. This will require an unbalanced and unenthusiastic canter to ensure it looks and feels dreadful. Remember to think about everything outside of the arena, rather than concentrating on the jump.
Jump 2 is an orange upright. The approach to this has the potential for variable strides depending how you jump 1. It’s slightly down hill and towards the burger van, right where an unexpected known individual will be standing. Make awkward eye contact with the individual.
Jump 3 is a double with very eccentric wings. It looks like it’s about two strides. Remember this will require a very forward canter, practically a gallop. Probably more like one stride.
Jump 4 is a big big oxer with lots of plants and dodgy ground undulations before and at take off. Remember to only think about the plant pots rather than the back pole.
Jump 5 is a triple. Copy other competitors and lunge between fences. Striding unknown. Remember a flat canter is a fabulous canter.
Jump 6. Pay absolutely no attention to 6.
Jump 7 is by the judges box. Goal is to have no rhythm whatsoever. Your horse is terrified of the judges box so catleap or refusal is inevitable. Remember to overthink the judges box.
Jump 8 is an oxer. You will be jumping down hill, so try and get plenty of momentum. Remember to lean right forward, close eyes and not look for the last fence as you don’t want anyone to think you can actually ride.
Jump 9 is planks. You’re almost clear. Make sure you give up as you’ve practically done it.
Ok, you think you’ve got it and now you’re being yelled at to get out. Where was 6? What did it even look like?
Oh good, it appears your family member has reappeared and has hold of your horse. Now from the outside of the arena you are able to picture your round and test yourself on what the plan of action is and prepare to give it your best shot. You’re ready.
Leg up, pop another warm up fence and off you go.