Ainsley Jacobs is an adult amateur eventer whose blog focuses on learning the lesson at the heart of every day with horses, from the good to the bad to the ugly. In the latest installation of her “Lessons Learned” column, while continuing to tack-walk her rehabbing event horse, Ainsely takes us on another flashback to 2015 when she learned a game-changer lesson, the impacts of which she still feels today!
I’ve had a lot of ups and downs lately. We’ve had struggles and successes, but it’s been tricky to do anything regularly. I figure the more events we can go to, the more practice we’ll get, and we’ll start being more consistent.
I’ve been talking to a few of my more-experienced eventer friends lately, and the one thing they all keep saying is that “eventing is a galloping sport.” Whenever I whine about the fact that galloping between the jumps is scary because I don’t really feel like I’m in control, they all laugh and say they have the same problem!
The key is to realize that it’s OKAY to be (slightly) out of control, so long as you can check in with your horse a few strides before the next jump and refocus his attention. His job is to listen to you before, over, and after the fence. Your job is to act like a GPS and guide him — let him take you to the next jump and have some fun running in between!
For this next event, I decided to try and focus on that mindset. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I decided to have a beautiful, sunny attitude to match!
Once again dressage was “blah”, but that’s okay with me. We scored 41.05 on Beginner Novice A, then went double clear in stadium like always. Going into cross country, JJ was feeling good and I knew we were going to have a tough time placing well with our dressage score, so I said “screw it, let’s just have fun.” Best. Decision. Ever!
We left the start box in a hurry, and I wasn’t even worried about the possibility of JJ stopping at a jump again. He was going SO fast, but I could tell he was having a ton of fun, and I didn’t want to piss him off by getting in the way of that. So, I just made sure I was balanced, stayed off his back, didn’t pull on his face, and just pointed him in the direction I wanted him to go. Yeah, we had to circle (a LOT) so we didn’t get any speed penalties for going too quickly, but holy heck, that was a blast! He was perfect over every jump, didn’t hesitate at anything, and was such a happy horse when we crossed the finish.
We ended the day on our dressage score and wound up 8th overall. Although I left yet another event empty handed, the lesson I learned, and the confidence both JJ and I earned, was so incredibly valuable.
Eventing is a galloping sport. The sooner you get comfortable with the idea of being (slightly) out of control while galloping between fences, the sooner you’ll start improving!
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.