Tonka certainly doesn’t lack in enthusiasm about jumping. This is his expression as he approaches a fence. Eyes locked on, ears pricked forward, face determined but not stressed, tail flying behind, hooves light on the ground as he powers from his quarters.
What we do lack is consistency. This isn’t unexpected. Tonka and I have had only two dozen jumping lessons. It takes much more than that to get an eye for where to take off and how to physically coordinate oneself when one does.
My little horse was bred to be a roper, which means he’s agile. Which means that when I misjudge the strides and we take one way too close to the jump,
he’s able to lift up and over. And do it in fine form with hooves even and an arc from toe to tail.
When I bring Tonka into the jump too slowly, he is able to do a levade and still look good.
When we come into a jump and there’s a choice between coming in too close, or taking off from too far back, and I opt for the latter, Tonka is delighted. I try to hold on.
Just because we’re having fun doesn’t mean that we’re doing it right. These are 18-inch jumps. There’s leeway for error. At some point the jumps will get more difficult and even my agile horse won’t be able to get us out of trouble. Besides, the aim isn’t simply to get over the obstacles, but to do it in a flowing, beautiful way. To that end, Tonka’s athletic enthusiasm is great, the inconsistency not so much.
Sometimes we get it right. Last week we went to a show and Tonka and I nailed it in our first class. Here’s a snippet.
Tonka and I both overthought and over-rode the next two classes. We came in too close. We came in too far. Zoom in and you can see the judge smiling broadly (and marking down) this overly enthusiastic leap.
We came in first, and we came in towards the bottom of the pack.
I was thrilled with that blue ribbon. It was in a hunter class, which is judged on my horse’s form. It’d be good, though, to get a handle on that consistency. My trainer, Steph, has plans about how to get our skills to match his enthusiasm. It’ll take time. In the meanwhile, I’ll work on keeping the weight down in my heels and keeping up with my horse’s enthusiasm.
What is your horse enthusiastic about?