In Which Log Hopping Goes Further Than Expected

The best pony
Summer did that thing where it's May and your head is filled with a thousand plans for fun and adventure and pony-related exploits, and then all of a sudden it's the end of September and you've only done about a third of the things you wanted to do.

Why does it do that?

It took us all summer to get back out for some cross country schooling, our last outing having been at the beginning of the season. We had popped over three or four little bitty logs at the horse park, jumps we've jumped a thousand times, and had an overall glorious time with friends just riding around and putting exactly zero pressure on ourselves. It was a blast, and this past weekend I aimed to do more of the same, albeit at a different local venue.

We headed out with our trusty show buddies to a really cute local farm that has a nice trail system and   lots of low-level, teeny, microscopic cross country jumps scattered around the property. A handful of fences there think about approaching Novice height, but just about everything is Beginner Novice size or smaller. Perfect for a couple of self-proclaimed weenies and their chestnut unicorns.

As jumping always does these days, I started the morning with zero expectations or pressure for myself. After all, we hadn't been out "schooling" in several months, and hopping over a handful of tiny familiar logs hardly counted as cross country practice! We don't jump often at home either, and I wasn't about to let arbitrary mental pressure to gallop and jump "big" jumps ruin my fun day. If all I did that morning was trot over literal sticks on the ground, that would be fine.

So, that's where I started out. Warming up, trotting over actual sticks and 6" tall "logs", getting my sea legs back and locking in to how it feels to ride in a jump saddle over terrain again. Finding that familiar secure seat with my leg kicked out ahead of me, butt tucked under, upper body solid. Letting Dino canter off, clicking into gallop position, and remembering how much FUN eventing is. Remembering that while we've made the switch to competitive dressage this year, deep down, we're still eventers. Foxhunters. Those who gallop though field and forest and jump whatever stands in the way.

Took a bit of a flyer to the "big" rolltop! 
As we moved from field to field, I found myself eager to progress from log hopping to jumping 'real' jumps. Experimentally, I pointed Dino at slightly bigger fences. What happened if we trotted the not-quite-microscopic row of stumps? The miniature hanging log? The tiny coop? It all went beautifully. Dino was absolutely in his element, having a complete blast and carrying me over whatever jump I aimed him at. He was tuned in, forward, uphill, and focused. With each subsequent little jump, I asked for a little bit more - canter this one now, string a handful together in a little pattern. Dino responded with a resounding "YES!" every time, never faltering except when my steering was questionable. Before I knew it, we were cantering around jumping all the 'bigger' jumps, I had a huge smile on my face, and I was eyeing up the BN size fences.

Jumping this pony cross country is just so. much. fun!

To end the day, I wanted to go back to the first area we had started in and jump over the bigger fences I'd been too nervous to try in the beginning of the day. We started with some of the larger hanging logs, like miniature trakehners in their construction and placement - the dark foliage and shady location made them a little spooky. Dino jumped them like a pro. Those went well, so I aimed him at a small rolltop. That was perfect. Okay, what about the BIG rolltop?

It wasn't quite solidly max BN size, but definitely the largest XC fence we'd jumped in years. It was wide, and beefy, and it didn't scare me one bit. I picked up a canter, asked Dino to jump it, and he flew over from a long spot he saw a mile away. I told him he was the best, and looked at a skinny chevron. I decided it wasn't that big - less than BN height, not very wide, just a tricky approach to a jump that was a funny shape. My friend who was there acting as ground person asked if I wanted her to lower it. I declined. (Who am I?!) Dino and I picked up a good, bouncy show jumping canter and absolutely NAILED IT. With that we were done for the day, and I was ecstatic!

When people ask why I don't show Dino over fences anymore, part of my answer is that it takes a lot of work and a lot of time spent jumping that I just don't want to put into him at his age. That work is stressful for me, too, and it's just not what we need at this point. But I've found this year that taking all the pressure off completely has done almost as much for my jumping confidence as taking lots of lessons, competing at horse trials, and schooling over fences twice a week. Without the pressure to perform better or move up, Dino and I can just have fun doing what we do best.



  1. GOD you guys are so impossibly cute

    and jumping is just dressage with obstacles in the way, so youve really been working on jumping all year anyway :P

  2. I love this so much <3
    Go get 'em, Dino!

  3. I love this. You two look like you're having so much fun.

  4. Love this! You two look like you're having a blast!


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