. . . and leap.
It's hard getting to know a new partner, particularly when they're so different from your previous partner. It's taking some time, but that's to be expected when my confidence over fences was really in the gutter.
Ben, to be fair, has given me little reason to worry. Other than our 'exciting' XC ride, he's been a perfect gentleman. I point at the jumps, I kick, we go. End of story. He's a whole body work out to do dressage with, grinding his teeth and trying to go downhill at all times, but perfectly rideable. His true redeeming feature is his ho-hum attitude to stadium jumping.
I hopped on today after working the princess (who was awesome, as always). I used my jump saddle and planned to jump some little stuff to keep us both in practice. There were some tiny cross rails and verticals set up, all less than two feet, and it was really pretty funny to watch. Poor Ben was kind of fumbling and landing on his face trying to get in close to such tiny fences. I hopped off and reset the fences to about 2'6", something low and comfortable while we worked on the ride between fences.
Sitting in isolated glory in the middle of the ring was a training level corner question. It couldn't be lowered since it rested on a barrel for one side, so it was still set up from when my trainer and some other Prelim level riders were out schooling. I eyeballed it, but told myself no, I shouldn't do that. I was supposed to be having a casual ride.
Ben is such a delight to jump, you can pretty much guess what happened next. I jumped around, really happy to get some clean flying changes and taking that as confirmation that I had him nice and forward. I turned to the panel, had a great jump in, and the corner was just right there. A bending three stride put us at a great distance. Sometimes you've got to just get that first big one out of the way. I know my eyes closed one stride out. As soon as I knew Ben was locked on and we were set, I just let him drive and closed my eyes so I wouldn't second guess it.
That saintly meathead just picked his toes up and jumped over like it was no big thing. There was a little head toss on the other side, but it was more of a 'finally, a real jump!' then any kind of acting up. I called it done with that. I was just so darn happy, I'm still smiling.
I'm hoping to get him out for another XC schooling in the next week. I just need to keep going out until we're comfortable and safe together. That little glimmer of hope is still very much alive.