Sorry for the radio silence, guys! Amanda and I have been dealing with some crazy life events lately, so unfortunately we’ve had to act like grown ups and take care of everything. We have some news to announce soon, though, so stay tuned! It will explain a lot.
When you show up to the show grounds, isn’t it nice that the jumps are already set and waiting for you? Have you ever wondered how the jumps get there? Between shows, there are hardly ever jumps in the ring! Must be magic! WRONG. A very good friend of mine runs the Hunter/Jumper ring at a local show circuit, and she pays me to set the jumps early in the week so that they are ready to be schooled on Friday before the show. This job, when completed alone according to my boss, takes close to eight hours. “Do it with another person,” she tells me. Well, for today’s edition of “Not Good Enough to be Weekend Jump Crew but Good Enough to be Cheap Labor,” follow me as I show Amanda why I’m grateful I’m still pursuing a college degree.
This job can be fun. We get to decide what flowers go with what jump, assign poles and gates and boxes, and play with the angles of the jumps. It lets you have a little fun and be a semi course designer for a few minutes. But guys, this job sucks so much. The trick is to do it early or late, especially in the summer. My plan was for us to be at the show grounds by 10 this morning. Guess whose nap on the couch turned into two more hours of sleep this morning? ME. I still feel bad. So we didn’t get to the show grounds until almost 12. It’s already scorching, and the day proves it can get much worse.
These standards are not all the nice little oxer standards or teeny little standards. No, these standards are heavy. I am terrible at estimating, so I’m just not even going to try. And they get shoved on the trailers and crammed together so tightly that you can’t get the one you need to complete an oxer or that isn’t halfway broken. We thought we would be smart and use Amanda’s truck to move everything. Frankly, we spent the better part of the drive home wondering if we had just wasted a lot of time, energy, and gas. It was probably a lot easier to just drag them across the ring. The poles are just thrown on the trailer in any order. Finding just the right pole is not only difficult but dangerous: you must climb like a monkey across the flower boxes and other poles and all sorts of nonsense to attempt to free a pole that is on the top rack and covered by seven other poles that don’t match and never get used. The planks and gates are also held prisoner by their own kind too. And some of them try to break in your hands and splinter painfully.
Once you get the main pieces free, you load them in the truck bed. It takes Tetris to a whole new level. The way the standards are built, one support is on the outside of the jump and one is on the inside. It sounds like it should make sense, but it actually doesn’t. (See picture at right.) Like, seriously, it is actually super unhelpful for wedging in truck beds and storing on trailers and building oxers. Somehow, everything kind of fits in there. (Giggity.) The poles are smashed together on the side, the planks are under the standards, and the standards are tangled again. “Drive slow!” is our mantra through this whole process.
Miraculously, nothing falls off the truck bed. Good. Only a million trips left to make. Even with taking multiple sets of standards at a time, it’s still four hours worth of work. Each line needs to be walked and measured for accuracy. Oxers need to be facing the correct direction. Jumps cannot be in the way of other jumps but still approximately where they are on the course drawing. And it’s only getting hotter out. Then, there’s not enough standards to do all the jumps as they’re drawn. (Not the first time this has happened to me, and probably won’t be the last.)
Then, of course, we ran out of jump cups. So we can’t even finish building the jumps.
When we could find enough “similar” flowers to stick in the flower boxes, getting them in the stupid little holes was next to impossible because they’re packed with sand. (This was the last thing we did, and my mood was quite sour at this point.)
But somehow, we managed to get a nice looking course and I’m very pleased with what we put out for the show this weekend. All it successfully managed to do for us was earn us $50 and some sunburn, not to mention the hunger for a good ride.
What we took away from this experience is to be forever grateful to the jump crew, especially at the smaller shows. The cheaper your classes are, the greater the chance that a handful of people did the work of an army. So thank the people who really make the magic happen at horse shows. Jump crew, office team, the people who take the manure out of the dump sites and clean the shavings out of your stall at the end of each weekend. They have been paid to do this, yes, but believe me when I say it is anything but glamorous.
Also, frequent breaks just make everything worse. Push through the tough work.