Nine years ago she trotted the whole course! She was just that worried her ex-racehorse would run away with her at the small schooling show.
They were penalized with over 20 time-faults because of the dawdling pace they set.
But at the time, to Meghan Orr, the score didn’t matter. What was more important was keeping cool and making strides, and training her ex-racer in jumpers and cross-country.
Sitting astride her 17-hand gelding this week, she chats idly on the telephone while the ex-racer she calls Four’s a Charm in the show ring, and Jinx the rest of the time, walks on a loose rein.
In a couple of days, Orr and Jinx will compete at the fabled Devon Horse Show in the AA jumpers, and thinking back on those early years of practice, and of all that trotting and worry, Orr feels a deep satisfaction.
Race name: Ruslan
Show name: Four’s a Charm
Barn name: Jinx, Jinxy
Sire: Private Key
Dam: Social Bee
Foal date: 4/28/98“It’s crazy to think about our early shows. I know nine years is a long time ago, but still; I barely got around two-foot courses,” Orr says. “Now we’re doing pretty well at three-six and three-nine. It’s crazy that I’ve come this far!”
This is the second year she and Jinx will show at Devon, and she’s still pinching herself to think that she’ll be competing on show grounds that attract the most esteemed horse and rider teams.
“This is the biggest show we do and it’s pretty amazing to be there,” she says. “I’ve been going there forever” to watch the riders “but I never imagined I’d ever compete there.”
She admits it’s nerve racking.
Last year she transmitted her jitters to Jinx and they went too slowly their first day, knocking down four rails in the process. The following day, she overcompensated for the earlier ride and rushed it, knocking down three rails. But the last day was the best. “It was awesome! I only made one tiny mistake, and so we had one rail. But, we definitely improved.”
Going into this year’s show, she will concentrate on finding a delicate balance in her ride. “I used to be really bad at jumping ahead, so now I’m better at that, but I’ve been too restrictive with my hands.”
She will put the practice to the test during an evening show Sunday, and two shows Monday.
And to think she’s doing it on a scrappy ex-racer she found in the Want Ads when she was 14.
She named him Jinx because she’d had such bad luck in finding a horse, and he has been a little accident prone around the farm. “It’s such a suitable name for him because he’s always turning up with random gashes,” she says.
But, after a bit of a rough start, and a few mysterious cuts, Jinx has proved himself to be a steadfast and talented partner.
“Sometimes it’s surprising that he turned out so well. He’s going great over jumps, but he’s also a favorite with the kids at the barn. He packs them around all the time,” she says. “I can go through a period of not riding him for two weeks and take him to a show and he’s great.”
They’ve come a long way since the early years.
“I was afraid of him at first. We did a bunch of itty, bitty jumpers, and I’d just trot or canter at the slowest pace possible. But we kept at it and kept moving up levels,” she says.
The pinnacle of their hard work will take place this weekend when Orr ties number 507 to her back and enters the ring with confidence. After nine years together, she knows her horse is game. And so is she.