I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine the other week about May. There are often times where I wonder if I am pushing her unnecessarily. I have always heard people worry that they aren’t showing their horses to their true potential (aka jumping high enough, showing at a high enough level, etc etc)
However, I don’t know many people who are concerned that they are pushing their horses past where they should be. Maybe this is because most people have a predisposition to buy a horse that is beyond a level they will ever achieve (as was the case with my first horse). Or maybe it’s because people are confident that the horse will tell them when it is too much.
Either way, it is something I have pondered more than once with my friends. I have heard it in clinics, lessons, and on the internet, “your horse isn’t built for jumping.” Yet here we are… jumping. We aren’t the most talented pair and experience our fair share of poles falling in stadium, but we get around safely. May has only ever stopped at two jumps and both times were because I completely refused to ride properly. Other than that, she has made decisions that have helped us clear some serious air (despite my best attempts to shove in and leave out strides).
So I brought this up to a friend of mine, one of my few friends to have ridden May. I pondered if May should just be left alone to pack someone around the starter levels. She is fairly easy around jumps 2’3″ and under and is the same horse at shows as she is at home.
My friend’s response, “May isn’t as easy to ride as you seem to think she is.” She pressed the point that May has been trained to the point where she is reactive and light to the aids. If your outside leg swings back, she’ll either give you a haunches in or move into the canter. Sure – I can ride her around in two point with big loops in my reins, and she will lope around a 2’3″ course. However, someone without body control and balance would probably struggle… a lot.
My friend also had another point. May LOVES her job. She gets bored with Dressage and small jumps. Some days I give up entirely on trying to Dressage or ride small jumps. She’s just not interested. Jack them up to 2’6″, and I suddenly am riding a horse who is 100% listening. Not tense or scared… just ready for a real challenge. She’s that way over a BN XC course too. Ready and eager. (unless it’s water, but that’s another story).
When she decides she doesn’t love it anymore, then we will change our plans. Until then, onward and upward!
In other news – Tomorrow is my first real Rolex Day! Hope you see some of you there!