Monday, November 11, 2013


Air time!
I haven't jumped a horse over a real jump (3' plus) in a year**. Well, probably eleven months. I knew that when Cuna and I had to lay off last fall, that my confidence was going to slip a few notches and that I'd probably lose something in the way of technique. It was even worse when he retired--I hated knowing that I was going to lose all the progress I'd made in my position and with my confidence. Even when I got Courage, I was well aware that green horses are hell on position and then by the time I got him jumping "real" jumps, I'd probably be starting from square one, again.

Here's the funny thing: For the first month or so, yeah, he was just figuring things out and I rode terribly. We got over the fences and that was what mattered. Just in the past couple of weeks, he's really figured out this whole "jumping thing" and you know what?

Maybe 2'3" vertical
I'm working on all the same things I was working on with Cuna. It's kind of hilarious. He's a totally different ride than Cuna, who was long and downhill and heavy in front. Instead of holding him up with my hands, I balance him with my core. He's sensitive like Cuna though, so I have to be still and careful.

I jumped him yesterday. I had to laugh at the whole thing. I started out a little bit nervous. I'll probably always be just a little nervous. He trotted to the first fence, then tried to stop. I said no and he launched. We demolished the whole jump. My lower leg swung back and he started scooting off.

So I jammed my heels down and sent him forward.

Tiny vertical!
He didn't touch a rail after that. I'd set the baby version of the circle of death, and he and I were able to string two jumps together if we cantered and three if we trotted. And yes! That means we cantered our first jumps together! So excited. He hopped over a couple of verticals with no drama whatsoever.

I've been going through the pictures that redheadlins took of us, and they make me smile. I'm working on things like staying forward after the jump to allow him to use his hind end and keeping my seat out of the saddle before the jump so I don't push him forward with my seat. Hold the rhythm. Balance the turn. Keep him steady without picking.

All the same things I used to work on with Cuna. The difference is that I don't need a solid year of dressage just to get a nice quality of canter--he came with that installed.

Scary tube! He's just cantering over it, really.
I'd even set a "scary" jump in the arena--it's this black tube that he absolutely refused to have anything to do with back when he first started jumping. I wasn't sure I wanted to address it, but then Lindsey and Diva jumped it like rock stars. He and I hopped over a couple of jumps and everything felt right, so I pointed him at it. He didn't even peek. I felt him use his body and spring over it and I was so proud of my little man that I almost can't put in into words.

He's got this. I've got this. Somehow, I have this awesome horse who's green, but he builds my confidence and helps my position. I started the ride a little nervous about the jumps, but I finished thinking that the 2'3" vertical seemed a little small.

We're still a long time from the big jumps, but it makes me happy to realize that when we do get there, I won't be completely out of my element. Even now, when I look into Cuna's wise old eyes, I'm so thankful for my time with him. He gave me the courage to try again and he stayed with me until my own Courage decided to come home. Because of all the time I spent on Cuna, I can't wait to see where Courage and I go together.

**Noted: that is a completely subjective definition. We are all in different places in life and riding and what is giant to some is tiny to others. If your "real jump" is defined as an 18" crossrail or a grand prix oxer, I certainly don't look down on you. For me, the line is around 3'. That doesn't mean it's the same for everyone. ;-)

PS Hilary is hosting a sweet giveaway of leather cleaner/conditioner that I want to win. Hope on over to her blog if you think you're luckier than I am.


  1. I'm so glad you have a greenie that lets you concentrate on you! It's taken a year with Fiction to get to that point, and even now I struggle. You guys look amazing!

  2. It's all because you got the right one! When you find one that fits you, it just clicks so much more easily!

  3. =) What took me a year+ to accomplish on Spirit in terms of position, I was able to get in just a few months on Hemie. How the horse fits you, how the horse moves, and also tack help, but I think it's mostly your body and skills doing their thing. =)

  4. So awesome what you have accomplished with him in such a short time. P.S. I love the "addition" in the banner. :)

  5. That is great. The things that we learn from those horses, we can teach on the babies that we get (like B and Courage)! I love the confidence that he builds for you.

  6. I've jumped some fences at 5' in my day....not too many, but a few...and used to compete at 3'6" Ammy Owner hunters. The height of the jump is all relative to the confidence your horse gives. My Toby was quite capable of taking a 4' or more fence, but I'd never ever try to take him over one. He was a chicken and had to look at everything before even trying to jump it. My Russell would take me over the moon without batting an eye, and I knew he'd had all the basics to get us over anything safely. My PJ was bold and brave and ready to tackle anything, but I had to take care as he did not have all the extensive training I feel a good jumper needs. Right now, were I to jump Tucker or Chance, 2 feet would seem huge.

    Give Courage the time to learn and that 3' goal will be as easy as anything for you both. A little experience, the good training you are giving him, and a few ounces of confidence will carry you over.

  7. Courage just sounds like an amazing beast! So glad you guys found each other.

  8. Looks awesome. I think your position looks really stable and solid which i think is most important on a greenie. It's always hard to look good on a greenie but you are doing a fabulous job

  9. Aww I love this post!! Everything happens for a reason. Cuna showed up when you needed him most and got you to a place where you were ready to move forward, then Courage showed up to take his place right when you needed him. So perfect! I'm so happy for you!

  10. This post really hit home with me too. I've had the opportunity to ride quite a few horses in my barn and each time it amazes me how different they all are not only in personality, but my comfort level in riding them. Like my personal horse I would never jump over 3'. Too much accuracy required and she was not forgiving. But then my trainer has a sales horse who I can not ride for a month, trailer out to a show, hop on and show at 3'3". Its crazy! So its really exciting you've found a horse that seems like its going to give you the best of all worlds-improvement as a rider, confidence building and just a blast to ride.

  11. Awesome post. Im so glad for you. You and Courage seem to fit each others personalities really well :)


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