Posted by: shannonc | August 20, 2012


(Ryan Murphy would be proud.)

So I never seem to say things like this after my flat rides.  Probably means I need more flat rides (like exponentially more flat rides).  And if jumping is just dressage with fences in the way, then there’s a lot I could pick on…but for the moment, I can’t resist being all giddy for what was good about today – and when I say good, I mean I was thrilled!

I think I owe the vet an all-expenses paid trip to the South Pacific or something (you know those little bungalows with the glass floors built right on the water?  Like that).  A Christmas card just isn’t going to express my gratitude the way seeing tropical fish under your feet would.

I have jumped the pony a couple of times this season but I can count them on one hand, and when we jumped we stuck with plain, low rails.  Since his delicate brain is a question, whereas his athleticism is not, I wanted to be very careful to protect his confidence while bringing him back up to speed.  It’s hard to appreciate this unless you have had a horse with a similar mentality – but if you have, you know exactly what I mean.  For the pony, courage is an acquired taste.

Today it was time to break out the decorations – an event I have anticipated with no small amount of dread, to be honest.  My brain likes to seize on visions of disaster, so I kept seeing myself performing airs above the saddle and eating wet dirt while the pony demonstrates his last minute, shoulder-dropping pivot when faced with a plastic flower bed, or heaven forbid, a box painted like a stack of bricks.  It’s a move he has almost never pulled with me, so go figure.

I like to call my approach “underpromise and overdeliver” rather than “a big fat hot mess of anxiety.”

What we have done is produce some messy fences when he has looked very hard and then four-footed over – and to be fair, this happens typically at obstacles a bunch of other horses ask questions at too.  But you just never know when it’s all going to hell in a handbasket, so it’s obviously important to obsess as much as possible.  And anyway, the deer jumps are hard to sit and feel generally terrible.  Besides, the pony is afraid of signs.  And his saddlepad.

So my reaction to the following was pie-plate eyes and big, cartoonlike gulps.  Yep, I asked for it, and do this for fun.  Right.


small, but deadly

Yellow, and solid. That is all.

Well, pony schooled me.  He maybe peeked a little, especially at the purple monstrosity, but never said no.  And he was a DREAM to sit on.  I felt like he was taking me to the moon, and thought he might leave me there, having whacked my eyeballs with his knees on the way up and knocked me out.  He was adjustable on approach and we nailed most of our distances.  The way he jumped up underneath me made me feel like I was riding a four-star course instead of a 2’6″ one.

The balance and straightness are still a work in progress, but just for today, I don’t care.  I’m taking a vacation from worrying underpromising and I’m going to be in the moment.  I need a glass of champagne to go with this feeling!

Next for the pony, xc.  Then flat.  And some more flat…



  1. I love your writing, I can feel it!! What an awesome pony! We took my draft cross pony to a hunter show, and those fancy Thoroughbreds were blown away by his out and out athletic prowess and handiness on the course. We got 6th out of 31 riders, not bad for a 13 hh pony that loves to be loved!

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