I've managed to get a reputation for myself at the barn as being someone who is extremely adverse to jumping. It's actually become a bit of a running joke. My nerve seems to wax and wane based on how much I'm riding and (of course) how much I'm jumping. The less I do, the less confident I am. Makes sense. In the past few years my riding has been somewhat inconsistent, so my enthusiasm to jump has mirrored that. The less fit I am, the less I want to jump too as I am less stable. Jumping can be dangerous, if you don't feel stable, you don't feel safe. And, let's be honest, it's very much a mental game. You don't do it much, you start to freak out. That is very much the case with me.
I think my trainer actually finds it a little bit funny at this point. It's a running joke whether she is going to make me jump in any given lesson. So, imagine her surprise last night when I started warming up over the fences before she even told me to get started! Over the past week I've: jumped while out hunting; jumped in a group lesson on Wednesday; and jumped in a private lesson last night. And not once did I complain or express distress. After warming up last night, before my trainer was ready to start my lesson, I started my own exercise of riding balanced cantered circles, working in a jump, down to another part of the ring, more balanced canter circles, work in another jump, to another part of the ring, and circle, jump, etc. My trainer liked what I was doing and so created a course for me where I was to work in my canter circles at different points. This is a great exercise for Ruby as she tends to get flat and fast and wants to both counter-bend and motorcycle around the turns and also for me as it slows my mind down and makes me think and even relax a bit. It also makes me insist on balance and a quality canter.
After all that we were rewarded by doing some jumping in the field, including my favorite "house" coop and the big panel. For some reason I don't get as nervous about jumping in the field as I do in the ring. One of the reasons is, well, it's fun! The other, I think it flows a little better. Ruby always seems to have a more natural forward, but rate-able, pace in the field and it just seems a little more natural. I guess if I were to be honest, I should say that you don't really have much in the way of related distances in our field either so the jumping is less complicated, so I'm sure that is part of it. You can kind of just go with the flow and you have more time to set yourself up for each jump as it comes. Well, for whatever reason, I prefer jumping in the field!
With all of this said, I believe I am experiencing a shift in my jumping attitude. No, my heart has not grown bigger, but I think my confidence has grown a bit. I have been riding a lot more this Spring and have been working harder on a lot of those rides too. Yes, I believe that working harder in Dressage does translate over to jumping. I am pushing for what I want from Ruby and am starting to get it. I am more & more a rider and less of a passenger these days. I also think that taking on CrossFit has given me more confidence overall. Suddenly I'm more willing to put myself out there more. I might still be nervous about jumping or going hunting, but I'm more willing to give it a try. I have to also say that the jumps are starting to look a little small. Perhaps I'll be asking my trainer to put them back up to my old height of 3-feet someday soon.