I went to Jared’s for the second time on Tuesday. He called to let me know that we would be in the indoor arena. He said he wanted to go ahead and take me over some Jumper specific exercises, and teach me the rules. He figured I would fair best with starting our training with this because jumping was something I knew how to do. I was more comfortable with it. He was certaintly right, and I was ready for today’s lesson. I was hoping that Kiro could easily take the tighter turns and more complex turns. I had always loved doing Equitation courses, which usually included these tighter turns, and more complex way of travel, so here’s hoping Kiro felt the same way.
“Sis, this isn’t Trina’s barn?” Navy had to come with me. This wasn’t an ideal situation, as I wasn’t exactly sure what he would do at this beautiful, top of the line barn while we were riding. But I really had no other way of keeping him anywhere. Daycare would be an option, but my mother informed me last night that we just didn’t have the money for it, and I did understand that. None the less, it was sure to be an exciting day. “I know, Navy, we are going to hang out with a good friend of mine today. Now, listen bud, this is a really big stable, and you’ll have to be real good and just watch, okay? Kiro and I are going to be really busy with riding, and nobody will be able to play with you. Okay buddy? We won’t be long.” He gave a wayside smile, and sort of nodded his head. I felt bad for him, but there wasn’t much I could do. He was a good sport.
After we pulled into the barn and got Kiro out of the trailer, Jared came out of the barn to meet me and Navy. “Hey there big guy! What have you grown since I last saw you, a foot?” Navy’s face lit up – I had forgotten that he and Jared really did get along well. We had met up once or twice before, and it was starting to come back to me – Jared had played a little basketball with Navy once at my house. The hoop was low, low enough for Jared to dunk the ball without jumping, but he had let Navy win their little game of HORSE just to put a smile on his face. It was obvious that Navy hadn’t forgotten this, because he strode up to my bestfriend and promptly fist-bumped him, confidently stating “Well isn’t it Jared, the Jared I schooled last summer!” I had to laugh out loud, and it took Jared everything in him to hold back. The sound of the eight year-old’s “cool” voice was hilarious, funny enough for me to nearly drop Kiro’s lead! Jared finally came back with “Yes, yes, it is me. Suppose you wouldn’t be up for a little rematch after me and your sister get a little riding in, would you?” I looked over to him with a pondering look, trying to express that I didn’t want to be any trouble. He just smiled and nodded, mouthing, “it’s fine.” He must have gotten the message.
Navy’s face lit up with joy. Jared then led Navy to a viewing outpost on the second floor of the barn, overlooking the arena. Navy later told me that the area was stocked with chips and other snacks, with water in the mini-fridge. Jared had told him to help himself, but he said he only took two bags of chips and one bottle of water, to be polite. I praised him.
Meanwhile, I tacked Kiro and led him to the giant indoor. Jumps were everywhere, decorated like a typical jumper course. Colored gates, lattice, tarp, liverpools – many things you would only find in a jumpers course, not typically hunters. “Well, I guess we best take a look at these, huh Kiro?” I asked my gelding as I led him near the jumps. He took a hard look at them, but wasn’t too spooked till Jared snuck in behind us on Northgate, and called, “What are you doing? Step away from the jumps! Take the rail, don’t let him look at anything!” I jumped, as did my horse, “Jesus, Jared, you scared the crap out of us! Why all the hollering? Why can’t he look?” I accused him, slightly ticked that he had spooked my horse. It didn’t last long, for I saw the embarrassment, and bowed his head, “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. But you can’t look at the jumps before you jump them – that’s the rules of the ring.” He said honestly, quietly, and sincerely. It was my turn to feel bad, “No, no you’re fine. Just don’t be so crazy next time,” I teased him in a playful voice. He gave me a lopsided grin, and I continued, “But that makes sense, the rules. I understand now, not used to that one. Sorry.” He just shook his head, and mumbled, “rookie,” to which I playfully retorted. We laughed a bit more over our playful teasing ways while warming up before we began jumping.
“Okay Kat, everything here is below 2’3”. You’ve jumped twice this before, and you’ve jumped this height just the other day. You’ve got it. Now listen, he’s going to look hard at those jumps – that’s the whole reason I set the colorful ones up – he needs to get used to that. Once you really get him exposed, he will stop being so particular and shy, and you can start shaving seconds off your time. For now, don’t expect anything too fast, and don’t try for it either. We won’t time you yet, maybe after we jump around a second,” He explained to me, “Now let’s just start with this diagonal line – the paint splatter plank to the wave jump.” I nodded, and cantered Kiro around the ring to get a good angle to the jumps. The canter was a forward, but calm pace. He had his head at a comfortable, easy to obtain position. Jared soon spoke up, “That’s a fine pace for these warm up jumps, but you’ll need more out of him later.” I nodded then continued to ride. It was clear that the jumps he’d pointed me to were probably the easiest, which calmed my mind. I liked starting smaller and working my way up. It helped build both me and my horse’s confidence.
The jumps were set at a smaller distance than I was used to, at three strides. Kiro ate up the ground pretty well with a large stride, so they came quickly. After I was out, I slowed him to a walk and patted him, looking to my buddy for instruction. He nodded with a smile, “That was great! I really like him, he’s got super potential. Now I want you to do the same thing, but make that a two stride.” I paused for a second, giving him a hard look. “It’s fine, Kat,” he assured me, “I know you can do it, I know he can do it. It’s not as hard as you think. You want me to go first?” I nodded, feeling more secure with having an example go ahead.
I was jealous of how Jared made the jumps. He simply pushed NG into a large, open stride, dialed in the small jumps, and popped over them with perfect pace – all in two strides. He then, I guess just to show it was possible, instantly shortened his mount’s stride. He cantered quickly down the long side, and took the jumps again. This time, putting four in the line. He halted and patted his horse religiously after the fact. “See Kat, it’s all a matter of adjustability. That’s so important in jumpers – you need to be able to come out of a tiny turn, push to get a bigger stride for the spread apart jumps, and then pull it all together to make the smallest, most ridiculous rollback you’ve ever done in your life. That’s all you need to do. Not hard, just necessary. Now you, go on.”
I nodded, understanding what he meant. You would hardly ever have to do such a thing in a hunters class, in those rounds you usually wanted a nice, even pace through the whole course. Equitation, you could occasionally use that sort of practice with tighter turns and more complex courses. I had to remind myself to put all of that behind me; take what I learned from hunters and apply it to what I’m doing now, but also adapt to the new style. I took a deep breath, and went down the line, asking for a large, powerful stride that I knew I could get out of Kiro. Once I pressured him, he moved out beautifully. Staying on the bit, but pushing through his hindquarters to stretch out perfectly. He dialed in the first jump, and flew over effortlessly; the second obstacle was just as flawless – and we fit two strides in between. “Good!” Jared called, “Now make it a four!” I called back an okay, and promptly leaned my body back just a smidge, and asked him to collect and bring it back. After taking just a bit longer than NG took to collect, my Kiro switched from the forward and out motion to a more up and in approach. Amazingly, I was able to re-take the line with the perfect amount of strides yet again.
I turned after the line to stop next to Jared and NG. He was smiling, and laid a hand on my shoulder. “That,” he emphasized, “was perfect! You and that horse, I’m telling you …” He looked me and Kiro up and down, then met my eyes again, “you’re just amazing.” I smiled, reaching down to pat my steed. “Yea, he’s pretty great. Maybe one day we can be as amazing as you guys!” I said honestly. He really did amaze me with his skill on his horse. It was so amazing to watch Jared, and even more amazing to know that I’d soon be able to accomplish the same feats as him soon enough!
After a great lesson, with stride adjustment and introduction to interestingly colored jumps, we cooled and untacked the horses. “You can stick Kiro in that empty stall with some water and a flake of hay if you want. Stay a while, Kat, I did promise your brother a set of hoops!” I decided to go ahead and oblige. After filling a bucket of water for my boy, I head over with Jared. Navy came down, and we walked out back to find a basketball hoop and a few balls. Jared walked over to the hoop and lowered it to an appropriate 8-year-old’s height, and proceeded to hand my brother the smallest ball. “How about some HORSE, little man?” Navy grinned wide and smacked his little hands around the ball. “I ain’t so little anymore!”
I laughed and watched as the two battled it out, and of course watched Navy take the lead. The two entertained each other a bit more, and I had a good time as well, before it was finally time to leave. I loaded up my Kiro, and head to the truck. “Thank you, Jared! Thursday, same time? Can’t wait!” Just before I buckled up and left, Jared popped up in the window of my truck, “Hey, Kat?” I nodded, gesturing him to go on. “I was thinking we could hang out after your lesson on Thursday. I figured I could totally school you, then we could grab some pizza and chill out?” I laughed, then replied with, “Well, maybe after I school you, I think that would be super awesome!” We both laughed, rolled eyes, and headed our ways.
With Navy chanting in my ear all the way home, “Krista’s got a boy-friend!” I proceeded along the road with eye rolls and hidden smirks.
~ When I Die, Remember Me By My Horses ~
* Because They Are Responsible *
.: For Letting Me Live :. (c) xJumperx