“I am an ever-learning late-in-life rider.”
Jump. Jump. Jump. Calling all beginning and novice riders – especially older riders who didn’t grow up in the saddle. I want you to jump. I absolutely, positively recommend that you learn to jump.
Note: (before you begin — and not in order of importance)
- Make sure you are on a less forward horse that knows its job.
- Wear a protection vest.
- Make sure you have a skilled instructor who embraces that you are scared out of your knickers.
I am an ever-learning late-in-life rider. My riding is a progression of so-far-so-good calculated risks. I’m a danger weenie. Yet, I l-o-v-e learning to jump. Jumping has taught me balance, fluid weight adjustment, staying out of my hands. I have learned to feel the horse and move with her, not ahead of her, to keep my head up in order to focus ahead, and to be a reliable team member with my savvy schooling horse. All the qualities one needs to be safe on horseback, right? In other words, sound equitation. Besides all that, jumping is “yeehaw — look at me” fun, even at a trot.
What You Will Learn
No, really, you can do this. Learning to jump should be a slow progression starting with walking over flat poles, moving to trotting over the poles. See, that’s easy. Just work on rhythm and timing.
Your instructor will guide you to posting then two-point over the poles. I can do that, you can do that. This is where you really start to let your deep heels help your balance. I found this objective was much more effective in getting my weight in my heels than just having “heels down” shouted at me.
Nothing has taught me more about looking ahead – being intentional about where I want to go. The horse can feel me looking ahead instead of at her feet. She goes there, taking me with her. Like dancing.
The action of folding forward onto the horse’s neck was a quick fix to stop balancing off of the reins. If you are too “hands first” as I was, jumping will help cure you. You’ll see.
I can feel the horse readying to go over. I’ve learned to relax and let her push me up rather than forcing a pop-up. Again, like dancing.
Jumping harvests the skills required for success at other disciplines and puts them to work. Posture, balance, cue preparation, independent seat, light and ready hands, being relaxed, feeling the horse under me and responding before I have to be reactive.
Confidence, thrill, joy, pride and yeehaw — learning to jump puts all of those endorphin-generating emotions in my pocket when I drive away from the barn. I carry them for several days after my lesson. I take them out, shine them up and smile about my successes. Three days of psychotherapy would cost more and not last as long.
As with any drug, jumping is addictive. Progress encourages me to want to try faster and higher. My instructor encourages my newfound chutzpah while telling me “whoa” if my enthusiasm over reaches my skills. Her goal, and mine, is to build a strong foundation on which to elevate my jump experience.
Jump. Jump. Jump. I’m serious. You can do this.