Seeing Is Not Believing

One more to go...

We’ve occasionally had video cameras in lessons, with mixed results. I’ve got some footage of me and Reb doing some jumping, from a few years ago. The fences are so small as to be almost non-existent, and we were both clearly bored. There is also some of Delilah and I slogging around the lower arena, before it got spruced up. There are puddles everywhere and we didn’t do anything.

Then there are the times when we’ve wished someone had thought to bring the stupid camera, like the night it was just myself and Rebel, and Claire and Spuddie, and we jumped higher than we have in a year.

That someone would be me, as one of my journalism gigs is reviewing gadgets. Last Tuesday, I came to the yard fully prepared not only to test the camera but also to finally — hopefully — get some good footage.

The result was really interesting.

Oh, sorry, just back from watching my jumping video YET AGAIN. I tried to post it here, but the internet wants me to pay for the pleasure, or something, and I can’t swing that at the moment. The screengrab is from the third fence in a short course comprised of four jumps: left rein fence at B, left rein fence at E, left rein fence at X, right rein back to B. Oh, I wish you could see the jump at X, which is depicted in the photo. I can’t even believe that’s me.

The thing is, the video is cool, calm, and collected, and that is not what it feels like. Not mentally, or physically, even though I am sitting there as steady as a… as a really, really steady thing. I found it hilarious to watch because A] all of the battles in the ongoing Me v Rebel war literally occur offscreen, and B] my inner monologue, which I barely pay attention to, has absolutely no connection to my physical presence.

There I go, la la la, cantering around to the first jump, not a bother on me, but in my brain I know I am going ‘Okay, correct lead? Faster? Slower? Too fast? Okay, okay, okay, 3, 2, 1 — sit, okay, too late – too late back in my seat, correct lead? Shit. Okay, okay, okay, 3, 2, 1 — up, okay, dammit! Rebel! Shite! Grr, canter! Canter! Canter! Running, dammit, too fast, fence, turn, too wide, shite, okay, okay, 3, 2, 1 — Lead, lead, canter, dammit, oops, 3, 2, 1 — okay.’

People who haven’t got a clue about anything equestrian generally believe that the horse is doing all the work. After watching my video [for the milllllionth time], I totally get what they mean. If you didn’t know better, you’d think that I was just along for the ride, lifting my arse out of the saddle at the correct moment, but otherwise just… sitting there. My inner monologue doesn’t even bother to verbalise all the messages my brain and body are exchanging as I go around — shorten the reins, heels down, look at the next fence [which I was really crap at doing, must work on that], mind the turn, keep the inside leg on, heels down, heels down…

It feels very loud when I ride. That looked really quiet. Not ‘shouty’ loud, but there’s a constant sound in my head, over and above the voice of the instructor. Maybe it’s the sound of my breathing? Maybe that’s what I’m missing, the sound of my breathing. That is weird, but I think it’s true. The sound of my breathing, in sync with the beat of the gait, which I don’t think I can hear in the video either — hang on — [55 seconds later] Nope, can’t hear it.

Can’t feel it. Every single step feels like something, and it is really strange to realise that it doesn’t look that way, too.

Anyway, we were all delighted with our footage, and I think my gadget column is going to see an inexplicable run in video camera reviews…

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