When sitting in the stands, jumping looks easy enough. Ride like you know what you’re doing, approach the fence, instill confidence in your horse (and yourself), and jump that sucker. It’s understandable why outsiders to the equestrian world can look at a wonderfully ridden round and say, “That isn’t hard, the horse is doing all the work!”
But we, as the ones on the backs of thousand-pound animals who are deathly afraid of a leaf blowing across the arena, know that the best riders make it look easy. One of the greatest challenges we face when approaching a fence is finding the appropriate distance. I am occasionally guilty of getting in a line that is a little worrisome, forgetting to breathe, and watching in slow-motion as my whole ride goes downhill — sometimes literally. We hear a lot of talk about ‘the perfect spot,’ but what about the other honorable mentions?
The Hail Mary spot:
Also known as the ‘oh crap’ distance. There is no scientific reason as to why this happens, but somehow you and/or your horse felt awfully brave and decided to shoot for the moon (literally). If your horse clears this jump, you better go buy all the carrots at the grocery store because they deserve it. And when you get home be sure to wash your breeches thoroughly because they probably need it.
The “OH GOD THERE IS A DRAGON UNDER THERE” spot:
You could say this is mostly experienced by green horses, when really you can thank the horses with a innate fear of anything and everything. You as the rider must be prepared for a massive over-jump and then make lots of jokes as you exit the arena about how your horse just hates jumping small as your heart tries to slow down from its dangerous pace.
The “I Jump. You Jump. Remember?” Spot:
An ode to one of the classic love tales of all time, only your horse doesn’t know that. Caused by a miscommunication somewhere along the line or a verrrryyy naughtyyyy pony. Either way, one of the two of you is jumping without the other, which can lead to some funny stories you can share later as you ice various parts of your body.
The “I Believe I Can Fly” spot:
Sometimes our horses decide to over jump. Most of the time we aren’t prepared for it. It is in these moments where we learn to grab mane and hold on as we attempt flight for hopefully the first and last time in our lives. Let’s leave the flying up to airplanes, ponies.
The “I Saved You and You Know It” spot:
This spot is often paired by a very grumpy look from your wonderful mount and your trainer yelling at you from the sidelines “YOU DIDN’T DESERVE THAT.” Your horse deserves all the cookies and love for this grand gesture. I am very guilty of this crime.
The “Emergency Brakes” spot:
Even worse than bailing out, here your horse demonstrates his ability to be a reiner rather than a jumper and slams on the brakes. Why jump when you can stop?
The “I Forgot How to Jump” spot:
This could pertain to the horse or the rider and is literal reflection of a brainfart. It is hard to explain how or why these events happen and thanks to great photography, we can study them for many years to come and try to sort out how years of training can disappear in seconds.
Annnnnd my personal favorite,
The WTF spot:
There are no words. I cannot tell you what this is or why this is happening…..I think this horse forgot how to horse.
There are so many ways that things can go oh so terribly wrong while jumping. Sometimes all you can do is grab mane and hold on for dear life…..or if you aren’t in the ring grab a camera and take photo of the year!
And if you can’t even make it through the course walk:
…maybe it’s time to consider knitting.
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