We didn’t jump on Tuesday, and we didn’t jump on Saturday, and I woke up on Sunday wondering, Do I remember how to jump?

I ride often, but I haven’t been riding for very long, and so stuff like that gets into my head. In the beginning, even up until my second year, time taken off was a source of anxiety upon return because, you know, maybe I forgot everything in a week?

I didn’t have enough experience to draw upon; showing up on Sunday, especially when I felt like I wasn’t going to remember what to do, is helping build up my reference library.

I thought for a minute, Ah, sure, Sue, just do the 70s, but then I decided: No. I’m over my fear of heights {ha, ha: over, geddit?} It had actually dawned on me, after Saturday’s lesson, a lesson in which we worked really hard on the precise stuff — flexion, bending, not cutting corners — that I didn’t need to fling Connell at the practice fences so much as to get him listening to me. If he’s listening to me, then I can forget about the fences to the correct degree. Meaning, well, it is his job to physically jump — I need to make sure that we get us there as cleanly as possible. To me, that means that I need to be as clear as I can be as to where I mean for us to go.

Someone else rode him to a rosette in the round of 70s. He was up for it, and in fact gave two big bucks before the rider began. Better before than during, I say, but I’d never seen him do that before. I took him back up to the indoor to get his vibe, and oo-ee, it was buzzy. Which is great! I did some transitions with him, to work on that ‘listening to me thing’ and then… eh, there was the fence, I had to jump him a couple of times, didn’t I?

I found I hadn’t forgotten anything. So that little revelation goes in the files.

We walked the course and I could feel him just raring to go, so I volunteered to go first. 1 was at X-ish, and I picked up the canter at A. Off we went, nice and smooth, no messing with the canter lead, over the crosspole, he switched leads {!} and —

I think what happened here was that he switched leads without me having to ‘make’ him, and I got a little flummoxed, and dropped my attention for a second. Consequently, he lost impulsion, and as we came around to 2 on the dogleg at F I went, in my head, ‘Nope’, and sure enough, over we went, a little late, and he knocked a pole. Four faults.*

I heard the clatter — I am pretty sure, somewhere in my consciousness, I registered the impact from his hoof, up his leg, through his body, into my arse — and I started to look back — and then I stopped, and looked forward to 3, and then did the rest of the round.

We did the rest of the round smoothly, cleanly, clearly, with the absolutely correct amount of speed and energy. The fences were effortless, the turns precise, the pace spot on. I felt utterly in tune with Connell, and it was like — it was like singing? I find jumping to be like singing. I sang in choirs for a good bit of my life, and there is this thing where the conductor will say, I can’t even remember, bar 35, and he raises his hand, and we breathe in, and he gives the downbeat, and everyone comes in at the exactly correct place, doing their own part.

Yesterday’s jumping felt like that. Like I was doing my part at the exactly correct time, and Connell was doing his. I didn’t need to worry or fuss, which just produces more instances of worrying and fussing, because the horse is reacting to your reacting, and then you end up reacting to the horse’s reacting, ad nauseaum. There was one point going around to 5 where I was standing in the stirrups a bit, but I realised it, and I sat back. I was also looking down at the fence, over 5 and 7, and just the fact that I realise that is like… I don’t even know, it is so great.

Also? That split second in my mind, of thinking ‘Nope’ at 2 was the difference between that pole staying up or going down. Attitude, attitude, attitude. Maybe next time I’ll think ‘Okay’, as in ‘Okay, not a great approach, can I do anything to help this?’

So, no rosette, but a really good round. ‘Perspective’ is the latest in the life lesson-y things I am learning from the horses. The pole went down, I didn’t look back, I didn’t pull up and quit because it wasn’t going to be ‘perfect’, I kept going, and actually rode as well, if not the best I’ve ever ridden that horse to the fences. What’s even best-er about it? I know it, and knowing it makes it conscious, and making it conscious means I know I can keep doing it.

There are rosettes, and then there are rosettes…

*I don’t know why it is four precisely, for every mishap at an actual fence {it’s three if the horse runs out}. I need to look this up.

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