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The Fringe Eventer blog post # 3
IT’S ALL RELATIVE
After several months weeks of intense clinical study I have come to some very interesting conclusions involving my return to eventing. Okay, so maybe I just consulted a few like-minded over forty friends of mine, but either way I found the results to be very consistent. The first discovery involves the direct relationship between the height of a jump, or any other solid or semi-solid object that one plans on jumping as it relates to age, the bounce factor, or how much the rider bounces when smacked into the ground at a given speed, size of the horse, and the size of your – hmmm, how should I put this – the amount of nerve you currently possess. Yes I went there. Sorry. At this point in time we will remove any mention of truck beds from the dialogue because at one point in my distant past I had a lengthy discussion with my trainer about the merits and downfalls of jumping the bed of a truck. Yes, we really did and no I really didn’t go through with it since it was a complete hypothetical. I think.
So, getting back to the clinical study. With Ralph (that would be Hill) out of the state for the better part of the summer I decided to seek out Hilda Donahue. Hilda, on short notice (long story) was there for my first Prelim run, but alas I had lost track of her over the years. After reconnecting I set up a jump lesson for my greenie mare and I.
Now, I must sidestep here and tell you that one of the things I have always respected in a clinician or instructor is their immediate ability to ‘read’ a horse and rider. I must have had some interesting words flashing in bright neon on my forehead that Saturday morning because Hilda has us figured out in .03 seconds! Danger Will Robinson. Danger! After watching us warm up which we do well because of our dressage, she took a minute or two to go over our history. After a millisecond or two she decided to start as if we were a blank slate. Well played Hilda, well played. This, I think has been one of the biggest confidence boosters we could have had up to this point. Keep in mind, we had jumped some cross country fences, the occasional log on trail rides, and a few stadium fences up to this point. My point being - nothing consistent at all.
We started with poles on the ground, which were just my speed, or so I thought. Hilda quickly found holes in our jumping pole-ing style. We drift left, I look down, and Lexi likes to hit the poles. Next came a few ground poles to an actual jump. Thank goodness she had our ship righted before long and we even did some stand-alone fences. Yippee!
On our second trip to Hilda I began to postulate my theory on jump size. You see, my mare is big, very big and this leads me to see things from her back in a different perspective. Most things look pretty small from up there. My first eventer was a sleek missile cruiser. He had cruise control, rapid-fire guns, speed and agility. My mare is the complete antithesis. She is an aircraft carrier. At 17 h (and a hair) she can be a bit slow to maneuver, needs a bit of a push to get away from the dock, is very stable (both in body mass and brain function), and well, she is big.
At this point in our lesson, Hilda realized that Lexi likes to paint her toes with the jumps so she began to raise them a bit to give her a challenge. In the semi-shade of her arena, we kept jumping every jump and every question that Hilda gave us and our confidence grew. Best of all, my aircraft carrier began to pick up steam and I needed less leg to keep her moving. And, from my vantage point the jumps still looked relatively small, but then again I was looking down.
At some point towards the end of our lesson I made the mistake of asking, ‘so how tall is that Swedish oxer?” Apparently 2’6” and 2’9” were much more respectable jumps from Lexi’s point of view than ground poles. Like I said, I had been so focused on not drifting left or letting Lexi paint her hooves with the paint on the jumps that I honestly hadn’t been paying much attention to the height of the jumps, after all we were rockin’. Don’t get me wrong, I know that size isn’t the most important aspect of jumping and there are a myriad of exercises that you can do without jumping big jumps, but all of a sudden my nerve left the arena and high tailed it to the trailer. Jeeesh, the jumps didn’t look THAT big. Which brings me back to my clinical study and a newly proved theorem.
Jumps, when viewed from the back of an aircraft carrier are much like viewing fish through the prism of water while scuba diving – somehow we lost 20 percent of our size perspective!