Lessons Learned: One Jump At a Time

Ainsley Jacobs zooms out on her horse life to take a realistic view of her own experiences, finding the lesson that should be learned from each new challenge and sharing those lessons in her blog series!

While her horse JJ rehabilitates from a ligament injury, Ainsley Jacobs is rewinding to past chapters from their journey: today’s story rolls back to mid-November 2014.

After such a rough first Beginner Novice event, we decided to try again. It doesn’t get any easier if you don’t keep working at it, right? So, I signed up for another 3-phase, but made sure it was a schooling show this time as JJ and I clearly needed a little more practice on cross country…

My wonderful friend and teammate, Beth, knew I was having some anxiety after the last event, and I arrived on Saturday morning to find a surprise outside of JJ’s stall. To help with my nerves, she made me a special seat which was “reserved for Ainsley Jacobs, Queen of Sr. Beginner Novice.” Thanks, Beth!

Thanks to Elizabeth Clymer for being the world’s best cheerleader. :) Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Thanks to Elizabeth Clymer for being the world’s best cheerleader. 🙂 Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

We got through our dressage test without any major incidents, and although our score of 41.58 on the Beginner Novice A test wasn’t great, that was the least of my worries that day. I had gone from having loved cross country at our first Tadpole, to being terrified of it after our first Beginner Novice.

JJ is an extremely talented jumper. He loves it, and takes his job seriously. I had opted to add an extra 2’6″ jumper round for this show thinking it would be a walk in the park for us. I wasn’t concerned about stadium at all until we started warming up, and he was just a touch more enthusiastic than I was comfortable with. There were tears, there was back-talking to my trainer, and, I’m ashamed to admit, there may have been a diva moment (or ten).

My wonderful trainer somehow talked me into at least trying the first jump of the course, and told me to continue on if that went well. I begrudgingly entered the arena, and JJ changed from “beast” mode to “baby sitting” mode. Miraculously, we went double clear once again.

As I was already a little freaked out and had some lingering confidence issues after the last event, I decided not to push my luck and scratch from the following 3-phase stadium round. I didn’t even attempt to school the cross country course, because I didn’t want to risk another bad experience for either myself or JJ at that point.

Somehow, JJ and I managed to WIN our 2’6″ jumper round. I went from so freaked out that I scratched from my 3-phase division to winning our jumper class. How crazy is that?!

Here’s me having a panic attack mid-flight. Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Here’s me having a panic attack mid-flight. Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing


Even when it all seems to be going wrong, it’s still worth trying. Jump the first jump. If that goes well, jump the second jump. Then the third. Then the fourth, and so on. If at any point you don’t feel comfortable, you can stop. There’s no rule that says you have to finish, but you owe it to yourself (and to your horse, and your trainer, and your bank account) to at least try.

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Photo by Erik Jacobs/P.TEN Marketing

Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur based out of Atlanta, Georgia. She started riding huntseat equitation when she was eight, and has tried practically every discipline since then. In 2014, Ainsley discovered eventing and it changed her life! She purchased her first horse, JJ Spot, in February 2016 and chronicles their successes (and struggles) of learning to overcome literal and figurative obstacles in her blog at www.RideHeelsDown.com.

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