Once upon a time, I loved jumping and had delusions of grandeur on what I could do with Romeo or Pico, and all kinds of confidence, but lacked the skills to match, and we should all probably be grateful that there is scant video or photographic evidence from those years. I also lacked the money and time to take lessons frequently enough to really polish my rudimentary basics. I also really like to figure out what the horse wants to do, and then actually do that. This has led me into a fair amount of dressage, trails, horsemanship, and just having fun riding.
Romeo (a 1984 model) and Pico (1992) have both died now at 28 (in 2013) and 18 (in 2010), respectively, they were awesome horses for me and I learned so much on both. Not surprisingly, each new young horse benefits from the horses who taught me horsemanship and riding. Sparkle (a 1998 model) was the next teacher, she is my husband’s horse. I did a fair amount of dressage on her, and she is a super-cute jumper, but she has tiny QH feet and a pretty substantial body, so jumping is not the most comfortable thing for her. I got Bali, and she is pretty athletic, so we started out really well in jumping.
I got more lessons, improved, then ended up being over-faced on Bali, by an instructor around the same time a bunch of railbirds picked apart my riding, from still pictures…and my rational brain couldn’t seem to override the gut reaction that if I was that awful, I should just quit jumping. I slipped into dressage. Decided I was probably aging out of jumping, so I just did little stuff here and there and definitely quit putting any “learning” pictures up.
Then I bought Neuf, as a long yearling, he has strong jumper lines, but I rationalized my decision that the jumper lines improve the dressage canter. Neuf has had other ideas. He says jumper lines also make good jumpers. I worked through his rebellious years, with a lot of help from my trainer, Martin Douzant, and I nearly sold him last year. But I started to have fun again.
I still get a tiny bit nervous about shows, but that is a little bit of “will I get a flat tire?” “will the hauling be trouble free?”, “will I ride well?”, etc. But it is getting easier to channel that energy.
Today was another schooling jumper show. The weather is cold, so turnout was light. But I had fun. I missed at an oxer and knocked every, single rail down when Neuf skidded into it. But, I realized, this is why I like jumpers, because the jumps fall down when I make a mistake. I went back, corrected my error and rode it well.
No video of the miss, since I wasn’t showing at that moment, just schooling.
I had a bit of a problem getting going on the lead I wanted in my second round, but it was a clear round, even if I wasn’t aggressive enough with my turns in the speed half. I was having fun!!!! And Neuf’s reaction to a “whoop” when he jumps really big at 7 is a bit funny.
Then the third round, I had a rail at fence 7. I had him too deep and he knocked it with his hind. Overall, I felt like everything is improving. I like this trajectory and will enjoy making my rounds even smoother, then move to 3’3″ or 1.0 meter classes. Get those smooth, then maybe I can do 1.10 meter (3’6″).
I also think he was getting tired by round 3.
I have to admit Jumper shows are way more fun than dressage shows. But, it is time to start looking for my next yearling. Neuf is 7, Bali is 13, Sparkle is 19. I wonder what the next one will want to do. I’ll probably focus on a bit more dressage lines, but who knows, maybe that will be what I look for in my 2022 horse. I am considering waiting one year to look, but I’m keeping my ears to the ground. Odds are good it will be a plain bay German warmblood.