Yesterday started out a bit cold and yucky looking, but I decided to trek out to ride horseface. It warmed up to 51 degrees (argh) which was actually alright once I got the blood pumping a bit! Linda decided to ride her new 3 yr. old QH/TB Traveler who is a newbie and needs some miles. He is going to be quite handsome when he fills out (AND stops BITING saddles and wooden fences), but right now he is a bit gawky. He opened a gate with Linda aboard though, so I am thinking he is quite sane of mind, and take back some of my comments regarding him and his affinity for a certain someone's Australian saddle--he BIT it! That saddle I am not as concerned about, but if he so much as looks at my Bates jumping saddle, fur will fly! :)
We had a nice little trail ride in the acreage behind Linda's house and a nice even, collected trot (maybe a mile total) with Jackson (on the bit!) as the leader setting the pace around the humongous field back there. I informed Jackson that he is a big boy now and had to show Traveler all that he has learned! Then we made the little trek over to our friend Lorri's to ride with her. My ears TOTALLY perked up when Linda told me Lorri was setting up some trotting cavaletti for us to play with. My mind also also went hmmmm.... as I remembered the jump standards that have recently been given to Lorri by a friend who moved. I have been eyeing them for over a month now. I walked Jackson over them before our last dressage lesson (Lorri has an arena where we take some of our lessons) but quickly realized that they were just a bit too high for walking over, I would have to jump 'em!
I have done ground cavaletti with Jackson out at Triple H and jumped things 12 inches or lower on trail rides and on Triple H's XC course, but I haven't (and I'll be honest here) had the cojones to take anything higher. You see, Jackson has never been jumped before, is fairly green, and let's face it, I have had these fear issues which started after breaking my shoulder when I first got Jackson. Those fear issues are getting rather worn, tattered and tiring. In fact, so tiring that they are LEAVING! So when we got to Lorri's we walked, talked and played with our horses around the pasture, and then I started attacking the set of 4 cavaletti you see above at a trot. Jackson did great. He is willing, and he is smart. I will post these pics below, but please don't comment on the equitation! Of course I look like crap, I haven't jumped in, well, let's just say A LONG TIME. (I'm looking forward to jumping things that actually require me to RAISE my stirrups up, and put the KNEE BLOCKS back on my jumping saddle!) Anyway, he took the set of 4 cavaletti well, along with a set of two we also had set up across from them. Lorri and Linda both said he really did them nicely with his legs up and moving evenly with some really nice work with his hocks.
After that, we did some arena work, but I just kept eyeing the two jumps right beside the arena, thinking "Mindy, it IS time." And these are easily accomplished jumps. A horse will jump things this low quite easily. But if he knows his rider is a chicken butt.... Well, I'm sure you know what can happen then! I left the arena by the side door, (and heard just what Allison, my instructor would have to say about THAT in my mind--I quickly made the gals promise that I would not be reported for my lack of dressage etiquette :) and just sat astride Jackson looking at the jumps--contemplating and inwardly feeling so confident that we could do them, but at the same time trying to banish the little tendrils of doubt that were trying to creep in. Of course the girls were all over me after they noticed me standing there just looking for five minutes or so. Take the jumps, you can do it, etc.
"Well, why the hell not?", I thought.
I knew we were ready. Kind of. The first attempt was, well, a gallant attempt. We took the first in the set of two fine (it is lower) and then Jackson ran out (cause I chickened out and let him) on the second one--which is higher even though the pic doesn't really show it. He pulled this a couple more times, and then of course, I had to get the big girl britches out, because if I let him get away with evading a fence at this early stage, and didn't jump it successfully because I let him run out on the jump, well, a jumping team we would quite possibly NEVER be. So, I approached again. Took the first and just applied major leg, with every bit of my mind screaming, "GO!" And he did. He JUMPED it. It wasn't pretty, it wasn't in the middle of the jump (so he took the higher part which is easily 2 feet) but it was done! We came out of the jump at a canter (my old? nemesis) and I thought nothing of it. It felt normal, natural and great. I really didn't have time to do anything but ride it, then Linda started shouting, "You're cantering!" I just looked at her and said, "I know, I'm on his back." LOL. Then Lorri piped in with, "Mindy, TELL him he did good!", which I immediately did. It was the shock and happiness and amazement, all at once, making me forget to instantly reward his AMAZINGNESS! We jumped? (maybe two feet? easily 18 inches anyway!) And came out of it at a canter? AND NO EVERYONE, I DID NOT HAVE EVEN ONE MEETING WITH THE GROUND!! OH HAPPY DAY!
After that, Lorri jumped Kite who had NEVER been jumped before (she jumps her other horse). This is the horse she had the really BAD accident on in June. Kite also ran out on the second jump a few times, so I didn't feel as bad! Lorri is an amazing, accomplished rider who could be an instructor herself, it was really nice having her on the sidelines telling me what to do and what I was doing wrong.
Below are a montage of images from the caveletti at a trot. I wasn't trying to two point, just float above the saddle a bit. The jumps did not warrant it, and my stirrups are at the length I use for dressage! Sadly, my camera was in my pocket when we did our first BIG BOY jump! Next time video is coming into play! Allison and I are going to have to have a talk. I still want to take dressage, as I think it is teaching me a LOT about my riding, but I want jumping lessons now too. We ARE ready.
Linda and Lorri. Without these two and their eternal patience, teaching, and encouragement in the past two years, I don't know where I'd be.