What do you consider "jumping high" for yourself?
Right now, a 3' foot course would set me back on my heels a bit. We're doing 2'6" very consistently but don't do courses at 3' much. I'd like to get Theo marching around at 3', he'd make a super cute 3' hunter (I'm biased, hush about the reality of his movement and short stride and jumping style). In the past, a 3'6" course would make me sit up and pay attention. I doubt I'll go back to that, I like Theo's joints functional and he's not really built for that.
What are your short term goals for riding? Do you think you'll reach them?
My winter goal is to get my First 3 test ready to be competitive. I'm not saying 60% and done, I want to hit mid-60's and be able to sit the trot throughout my test. This will also help me with my freestyle debut. I think we can do it. Theo's got the movement and if we can unlock that leg yield, the pieces should all fall into place.
Long term goals for riding? Do you think you'll reach them?
My Bronze, complete with freestyle bar. And I want Theo to be the horse that takes me there. I have every confidence Theo will get me my Bronze. He popped a very cute, uphill flying change from left to right in my jumping lesson this week. A lot of walk to canter work has completely changed the way he handles transitions and changes. He might not be able to manage the Third level freestyle since it's more demanding than the Third 1 test we need for our Bronze, but he's young enough. We can do it.
How many barns have you been at in your riding career?
Oh my goodness. My family is military, so we moved a lot. I think I've ridden at 14 barns in my life.
How many different trainers have you been with in your riding career?
Fourteen. I've had a different trainer each time I've moved.
Ever worked at a barn? What did you do?
I worked at a fancy dancy h/j barn full time for two years as an assistant/groom/instructor. I taught lessons, groomed at shows, braided, assisted with getting horses and riders ready for lessons, rode school ponies, fed horses, cleaned, did turn out, all sorts of stuff. It was long hours and extremely demanding. I also taught lessons at my eventing barn and would occasionally chip in with mucking or turn out.
Scariest thing that has happened at your barn?
At my current barn? There was a broken arm, but I wasn't there. Overall? Okay, brace yourself if you don't like stories of bad falls (or skip to the next question). I was helping out with a show at the h/j barn. A teen was riding her very experienced TB gelding around a jumping course. He was a bit of a hot tamale and she was going for time. He was always so good about taking care of his little girl, an 18 year old saint that thought he was 4. A roll back turn on grass, he slipped, and his little girl came off. She hit the ground on her head, hard enough to be immediately knocked out. As sometimes happens, her hands clenched shut while she was unconscious. She still had the reins and her horse freaked. She was dragged for a bit before he yanked free.
I called 911 while the trainer ran to her, then I ran down to the street to flag down the ambulance. She was out for a good two minutes. She left in an ambulance. My hubby was the videographer that day and he told me about the EMTs asking to see the recording and playing it for them on slomo so they could check to see if she went under the hooves. She was out of riding for six weeks. Helmet saved her life.
Have you ever given a lesson? What level was the rider?
Many, the poor saps. Ranged from first lesson up down riders to kids competing at Beginner Novice.
What is your opinion on the accuracy of critiquing riders online?
From photos? Not worth the effort. A really experienced instructor that knows how to look at a moment in time can help you, but they are few and far between.
No regrets on sending this photo out for a critique by Heather Blitz
From video and from an experienced instructor? Sure, there can be some good insights. But the key word is 'instructor'. Many people can ride without explaining what they're doing or seeing it in someone else. And heavens save me from the armchair experts. Honestly, if you don't have a current competition record and/or a solid reputation as a clinician? Leave. Me. Alone.
What is the ideal height of a horse for you?
Between 15.2h and 16h seems to work the best for me. I'm short of leg but not petite in frame, so while I look just fine on a pony, I personally prefer a horse so I don't feel like I'm going to capsize the poor thing. I think I look smashing on Theo who's 16h but not a particularly wide horse. He's got long legs for his frame, so we get some height without me looking like a pea on a drum.
We're a good match in more ways than one