BFFs and A (Final!?) Return To Hunterland

My latest lesson-and-catch-riding adventure was with my best friend of 33 years, Cristina, and her hunter trainer, who I've ridden with twice before on Dino when I brought him up to their barn for a fun little jaunt with friends a few years ago. This time, however, I'd be riding a school horse, and until that lesson, hadn't jumped in about two years. 

Y'all. I was a little nervous. 

I knew I could ride circles around these hunter folks on the flat, but jumping? Jumping was no longer in my wheelhouse, and it had been many, many moons since I jumped any other horses besides Dino. 

Thankfully the resident school horse I'd be riding was Abe - a 20something, grouchy old fellow of questionable soundness who would dutifully pack me around the 18" fences. He was an absolute saint. A sluggish, impossible to motivate, very safe saint of a horse. 

Trust me, this felt much bigger than it looks. 

We worked first on the flat in various exercises - lengthening and shortening the trot, riding with one hand on the reins and making big circles at each end, and alternating 2 point and posting at the trot. Abe was incredibly sluggish, but we eventually came to an understanding that I wouldn't kick him if he just stayed at the speed I asked for. After we'd all cantered both ways, we started in on the jumping with a single ground pole, then riding almost a figure-8 over a very, very small crossrail. 

The anxiety was real, you guys. Despite the fact that Abe is a complete seeing eye horse over fences and the "jump" was laughable in height, I was still inwardly panicking about finding a distance to it. 

Old habits die hard, I guess. 

But good ol' Abe carried me dutifully over, and continued to do so for the remainder of the lesson as the trainer added in a couple lines and singles to the pattern - all 18" verticals. There was a 2'3" fence that the other girls jumped, but I declined to give that one a go as it seemed to grow exponentially as I loped Abe down to it, and it scared the crap out of me, so I pulled my horse away about three strides out. Thankfully, the trainer was totally ok with my frightened amateur Dressage Queen moment, and let me just hop around the tinier jumps for the rest of the lesson. It was all a very fun blast from my hunter/jumper past, but honestly probably not something I'll go out of my way to do again! I learned that day that I don't really miss jumping at all, and I'm absolutely okay with not getting back into a jumping discipline at this point in my life. 

Part 2 of this little adventure, however, was hopping on Cristina's horse, William! He is an absolutely lovely little warmblood gelding with plenty of miles in the hunter ring who is teaching my BFF the ins and outs of horse ownership, and a whole lot about being a tactful, confident, thinking rider. He's a total sweetheart, and such a good fit for her! He's also got some pretty good flatwork buttons, and I had so much fun cruising around on him testing them out. William knows quite a lot, including some pretty good lateral moves, and I'm excited for him to teach Cristina everything he knows! 

It's also just so heartwarmingly wonderful to see my best friend living out her childhood dream with such a lovely horse of her own. We've both been horse crazy since we were little kids, and I'm just so full of love and happiness watching her with William. So many of us know how special it is to finally own a horse after a lifetime of wishing, and feeling that joy all over again through Cristina is absolutely magical!

Comments

  1. Your friend's horse is ADORABLE! How exciting for her to have such a wonderful guy as her first horse. Even if you were nervous, I'm glad you went and did the thing and had some fun (I hope!) with Abe!

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  2. I think I had jumping lessons on Abe's twin! I had to jump 90cm (about 3') on a strange horse for my instructor's exam, and I was T E R R I F I E D. I found a wonderful sweet jumping coach who put me on a grumpy old dark bay gelding with kissing spine, named Al. Al was exactly the same as Abe! And I passed the riding exam with 91% thanks entirely to the dear old boy <3 but was very happy to retreat back to my sandbox afterwards lol

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