‘Well done!’ calls Sharon, as Rebel and I canter back to join the ride. We’d just taken a straight, looked like it was about 60cms [1.9 feet]. Funny. I’d just been thinking that I didn’t have a notion what I was doing.
By that I mean, I can’t describe it in words. Someone in another lesson, unhappy with her own jumps, had asked me to explain how to do it, or to explain how I did it, or something— and I couldn’t. It just is. This is unsatifying to me, as I always needing to articulate, to spell it out. It’s just… we’re heading for the fence. I’ve been looking at it around the turn. As we come straight [ish, Rebel fights, like a demon, against the half halt I employ to adjust our approach], I stop looking at the fence and look up. We go forward and then— and then he starts to rise, I rise, and we go over.
Bugger. It bothered me, there in the arena, after my realisation, that I was just doing it. I certainly know what happens when I don’t do it right, that’s what my last two falls were about: thinking too much, trying to get the horse to jump by beginning to jump before they do. So I try not to think too much.
So I decided to pay attention instead. That’s different.
We had tried three fences in succession last week, in the smaller indoor, going first over crosspoles, then around the arena to the opposite side over a straight, then through the turn that wasn’t supposed to be sharp, but certainly was, over another straight in the middle of the two other fences. We only got to do it once; Delilah and I, like everyone else, had to canter in a circle to get a decent line in on the third jump.
Fiona had us at it again this week; there were only enough poles for us to do two fences this time. Doesn’t matter how many there were, the point was to get us to look for the second fence, and guide our mounts into the best possible line. The thing I found so difficult was avoiding falling into that old bad habit of thinking I had to look at the horse to make sure we of where we were going. This is, of course, what my seat is for, what my inside leg is for, what the outside rein is for. First time through, eh, not so good.
Second time. Rebel played up, not wanting to go, and I tried to manage the reins in one hand while I shifted my whip to the other to smack him on the bum, whilst sitting back so I wouldn’t tumble off when he bucked. I manage it marginally okay, and he picks up the canter.
He loves to canter into a jump! He’s so much happier than at the trot. And I’ve got my seat on him now, and I don’t feel any separation, not from my own bum and the saddle, nor from the reality that we’re two separate entities. We approach and I’m paying attention, and there’s this thing, this smaller canter step or something, and I know it’s time to go, and we go— and I turn my head, right as we go over, right as I’m up out of the saddle, like, like I know what I’m doing, and I look at the second jump. And I cheat a bit and look down at him when it seems to me that he’s not far enough out on the track, but then I stop thinking and I look at the second fence and there’s that little beat, the curve of his shoulder, the drop of his head, and I know, and I rise, and we’re over.
I’m supposed to get him to go as far as the opposite track, but it’s hopeless: Rebel immediately cuts to the left to get to the back of the ride, a turn as sharp as a skateboarder spinning a 360. But Fiona is pleased nevertheless.
It’s almost time, and she raises the first straight pole up, it looks like… well, it’s hard to tell. It seems like the pole is up at her waist? And we go, and I’m in it, and we take it, and it’s fantastic. I ask her how high it was, and she shrugs, reckons it’s 85 cms. 85? That’s almost 90!
I want to jump a metre so bad I can taste it.