Me and Allen, a long time ago
Today I was riding Ben and doing some jumping. We're still around Beginner Novice height, but that's mostly because I'm enjoying my returning confidence and want to take it slow. It just so damn nice to go out and jump around with no fuss, no drama. I point, I kick, he jumps. At this low level, that's all there is. I know when I move up to something bigger it will take more work to lift him up off of his forehand, but for now, I feel like I'm riding a hunter again. I was ready to cry today after jumping around. It's just that much of a relief to have it all be so easy again. I was happy and relaxed and smiling the whole time. We did have a bit of an argument about one line. It went something like this:
Hey, we're going to jump the cross rail.
Something in the door is trying to kill me.
Focus, we're going to jump the cross rail.
Okay, okay, we're jumping the cross rail.
- jump the cross rail -
And now we take the bending line to the one stride!
No, we bend to the green and white vertical.
No no no, I can see the one stride.
It's the vertical!
So help me, horse, I'm the one with opposable thumbs and I know the actual course!
Fine, you stubborn human!
- jump the vertical -
- walk -
. . . want to try that again?
Sure, sounds like fun.
Smart ass old men, thinking they know the course better than I do. But you certainly can't complain when the only downside to your ride is your horse locking on to the wrong fence. The entire conversation between the cross rail and vertical took about six strides, so not a major issue. He can be such a meathead, but he's cute so it's okay.
So what does this have to do with my horse Allen? After I made a stupid mistake, I heard myself say 'sorry, Allen'. Wait, what? Ben jumps nothing like Allen, what was that about?
Aside from the fact that Ben is almost Allen's twin in terms of build, Ben is in that same group of horses: wise old men that will take care of a rider when necessary. He's only fourteen, but he's definitely got the same feel. He's been there, done that, and is now looking out for the less experienced rider. He's not perfect, he's certainly willing to argue with me about something. It's the same feature that will keep me safe on cross country in the future. Allen would sigh and take charge when I did something stupid, Ben does the same. Galloping down to a fence and you suddenly have that sinking realization that you've ridden your horse down to no spot? Put your hands on the neck, put your leg on, and thank your lucky stars that the old man you're riding knows his job better than you do. He may not make it comfortable for you, but you will land on the other side safely.
The conversation I had while jumping was one that I could have easily had with the Hellbeast. With Ben nuzzling at my neck, I couldn't help but think of Allen, doing the same thing a long time ago. It gave me a sense of deja vu. I think I'll go back and watch videos of my beloved jumper tonight and think about what we did together.