Hey everyone! I would like to apoligise for going AWOL for the past few months, a little thing called my Masters degree decided to get in the way of my riding (so rude)! I can now happily confirm however, that all my essays, lessons and seminars have finished and there is now only a minuscule task that is called ‘the dissertation’ that sits in the way of achieving my degree and the imminent start of my ‘adult life’. Fingers crossed, this means that I might have a little more time for horses and the blog (it’s a great form of procrastination!).
I have been dying to get back into the saddle and this week, an opportunity presented itself in the form of a riding lesson at Sunnybank Equestrian Centre in Caerphilly (Wales) with the Cardiff University Equestrian Club. So of course, I took it! The only problem, as I soon discovered, was that half the lesson involved jumping…which is something that pretty much goes against every fibre of my dressage queen soul! I was so desperate to ride though, so I thought that it was high time that I faced my fears, buckled down, and got over some jumps! As it’s a Friday, and everyone needs a good laugh, I thought I would take a moment to share with you how exactly this lesson went down.
Now, I did jump when I was younger so thankfully I do have some background knowledge (limited as it may be) of the jumping position and strides, but overall I have to admit that I am a total novice when it comes down to it. Even as a child it was my least favourite activity. I could never see the point of actually throwing yourself (and hopefully your horse) at a solid, wooden pole that is capable of breaking pretty much every bone in your body. I guess I am guilty of thinking about every possible thing that could go wrong and let me tell you, when it comes to jumping…the list of possible disasters never seems to end!
Thankfully, the jumping part of our lesson started off pretty tame as we were asked to show our two point position over a few trotting poles. I thought I had the exercise in the bag, but as my horse and I trotted over the poles, the instructor told me, ‘Tia, you need to stick your butt way higher in the air. You have a butt, now show it off!’
-can we just stop there for a second? For 12 years now, I have trained my butt to literally ‘stick’ to the saddle, the less airtime it sees the better. And now, I am asked to almost wave it in the air? Mind and body…BLOWN!
The next exercise involved a canter approach to a small X. THIS time, I told myself, you’re going to be alright. In the past, I have used small cavalettis in exercises to help build up my horse’s canter and since Shamus, the horse I was on, was an easy 16 hands, there was almost no ‘jump’ involved. Life was great until my canter approach to the X when the instructor told me to go into my two-point position. Once again, I was completely out of my comfort zone. In my two-point position, I found it difficult to drive Shamus forwards, my centre of gravity was completely off, my knees wanted to grip the saddle and I just seemed too ‘top heavy’. Shamus however was a total pro and got me through that one.
Then another jump was added two strides after the X and this one crept higher as the lesson continued. By the end, it was by no means ‘HIGH’ but for myself it was pretty much at a point where my inner dressage queen was screaming ‘WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS???!!!’
The truth is, although terrifying as it may be, I have discovered that jumping is actually pretty fun! I’m still at the point where the approach is pretty traumatic and truthfully, I doubt I will ever completely get over these fears. My inner desire for control and perfection is challenged with every stride that I near the jump. It’s not like dressage where something as little as a half halt can solve all of your problems (and if it is, I need your wisdom kind reader!). Once I am in the air though, for that half second where the world seems to slow down, there, life is perfect.
At the end of the lesson I have to admit that I was shaking but I was so proud of myself. I had taken on probably my biggest fear in riding and I had actually started to enjoy it! I’m hoping that with a few more lessons under my belt my confidence will start to improve and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to breathe as I approach the jump. (Here’s to hoping!). Until then, this ex-dressage queen has a confession….jumping may actually be fun…(but only maybe!)
Have a happy weekend everyone!