I walked in to the barn for my fourth lesson absolutely PUMPED! Ready to rock and roll.
Instructor asked me if I wanted to ride “The Hot Horse” this lesson. I enthusiastically said yes. I love a hot horse! So she brings in this 16-ish hand, mud-brown, TB gelding with a bit of a goofball personality (my fav kind of horse).
I brushed him down, tacked him up, and we wandered off into the arena to hop on. Instructor tells me this was her personal eventing horse, and that she rarely has others ride him, so she’s curious to see how he’ll go/look with me. Eek! No pressure.
Everything’s going great at the walk. Nice horse, well trained, super sensitive (love it), and I feel pretty darn secure up there even though the saddle feels too big for me.
Then the instructor has us trot. As soon as I ask for the trot, the horse flings his head up and around, pulls the reins out of my way too lose fingers, and launches into an big trot (my reins flapping in the wind around his neck).
Instructor calls out “You might need those!”
Me: (** totally embarrassed **)”You said he was a seat ride” haha
I finally got myself back in order, horse back under me, and we did some trot warm up for a few minutes. Everything was going well. I was a touch nervous because I could tell that this horse was much hotter than either of mine, and I was worried that my fear of jumping was going to create a bomb under me.
Instructor set up a small “course” of ground poles to ride. This horse was awesome. Actually leg yields, you can steer his shoulders, very easy to ride. I was having a blast trotting over the ground rail “course”. I was feeling a million feet tall, and tougher than nails!
Instructor raised the poles into small cross rails. We’re supposed to go through this course one at a time. Meaning one of us will stand in the middle while the other rides the ‘course’. The other lady in the class ducked into the middle the second the rails went up. HA!
Probably a good thing though. If I have to go first then I don’t have time to work myself up into a panic.
I struck up a trot and headed toward the first jump. My gelding does a very nice, smooth jump over the first cross rail. I’m feeling solid, secure, like a million bucks and on top of the world.
The second jump, we LAUNCHED over it. Totally caught me off guard. Tossed me around a bit. The gelding lands, and we’re cantering across the arena with me curled up in a fetal position on top. Instructor yelling “Sit up, Sit up”, “Breathe”.
Confidence a bit shaken, but I stayed on so no big deal, right?
I steer the moose around and approach the second jump again. We go over it smoothly, no issues. Everything is wonderful. I’m on top of the world again.
Approach third cross rail, and again, horse launches himself over it. I’m literally grabbing anything in front of me to stay on.
I’m scared now. Like, really scared…
I circle the horse so we can do the third jump again because I’m completely off course. Get to the third jump again, and LAUNCH! It’s so powerful it’s popping me out of the tack, I feel like I’m a split second from falling off. I have zero control. I feel like I’m 8 feet in the air with only hard ground beneath me.
We make it over, and I stop the horse.
At this point, part of me is screaming at the top of it’s lungs “I’M DONE!!! I want off! No more! I’m OUT!”
It was such a strong, visceral reaction that it shocked me!
I had very heated argument with myself about whether I was quitting jumping for good at that point or not.
I almost quit… it was close.
But, i really want to do this. Really badly. And I’d regret quitting.
I re-gathered my whits, focused my breathing, listened to instructors advice about position changes and rhythm, and trotted the moose back to the third jump again. He calmly hopped over it and we finished the last two jumps with no issues.
We did the course twice more. We had a couple of additional launching jumps, but this time I was ready mentally and actually rode the horse instead of being an out of balance passenger.
The better I rode, the smoother the jumps got, the calmer the horse got.
Imagine that…. haha
So, all in all, an eye-opener on how hard this is going to be, and how far I still have to go before I’m ready for an actual “event”. But… I was really freaking proud of myself for working through my fear, and it helped me see how much my body really influences the quality and type of jump the horse can give.
Also, that horse was amazing. I was really touched the instructor let me ride him.