It’s easy to underestimate 18″. For Raglan 18″ is nothing, but when you’re as short as I am 18″ comes up to right above your knee. It’s short enough to step over, but tall enough that it looks a little scary.
My lesson at THF came with the realization that Raglan jumps much differently than I’m used to. Back when we were playing around at KW I kept the jumps super low and he just cantered over them. Pump the jumps up a smidge higher and suddenly he’s actually using his back and my options are to find a two point or get knocked around out of my tack—I can’t just half seat over the jumps anymore.
I definitely used my two point over fences on Belle, but I didn’t put a lot of thinking into it. With Belle I knew she always needed to be going faster, so I gave her a couple of kicks, focused on pushing my heels down, and then closed my hip over the jump. She’s so point and shoot that if we flubbed a distance it was okay because she jumped anyways and I could sort things out after we had landed. It was easy, natural. I didn’t have to think a lot about how my body was positioned because it felt instinctual.
It doesn’t feel instinctual with Raglan. I overthink it and I get nervous, then I pick on his face and he cruises to a stop because I’m telegraphing that I don’t want him to jump the fence. It’s nice because it means my pony’s calling me out for being ridiculous. It sucks because it makes me feel incompetent.
Jumping the cross rail at THF wasn’t scary, though. It was sloppy and disorganized (and I was thankful my giant young horse didn’t decide to dump me on the ground because it wasn’t like I was helping him out very much), but I didn’t feel like I was going to fall off. I just felt like my timing was super screwed up and I wasn’t using my body the way that I was supposed to be using my body.
Last Sunday SellerH and I met up to do some jumping together. We started out with a really fun exercise made out of canter poles and a cross rail that was SO. MUCH. FUN.
The 18″, on the other hand, wasn’t. Looking back I definitely needed to build up momentum and then push him up to it, but I was too nervous to do it, especially when I knew there was the oxer looming at the end of the line (even if I wasn’t planning on jumping it). We figured it out, but it shook me.
In the end I had SellerH take Ragan over the oxer for me so that he’d have a really good experience to end on. The first time he totally did the vertical and then checked out, didn’t realize the oxer was there, and slammed the brakes at the last second. He did fine with it the next time, though!
Jumping Raglan sort of feels like starting over—like I’m learning how to jump for the first time! I knew we need to take a couple of steps back, so this Sunday I set up some easy cross rails and some canter poles to build my confidence back up again. It’s all about pushing my boundaries a little bit at the time.
The nice thing is that Raglan is such a good young horse! He never holds a grudge. Even when I completely mess him up and he stops at the jump because I chickened out, if I get myself together he forgets about my failures and jumps over it anyways. Not only that, but he’s only six years old, so even if it takes me a few years to get myself figured out he’s still going to be young and full of life.