I’ve had a little over a month to replay my last major jump school at the SCHJA finals and the many mistakes I made on that last course. As middle-aged adult ammie, I find myself replaying the worst parts of that trip. The opening Keebler chip, the major miss to the combination. Like a favorite song on my iPod that I play until I just can’t stand it anymore. That’s what I’ve been up to.

Historically riding for me comes to a screeching halt after that show, as life and the pressures of the holidays close in. Oliver usually ends up with a month off, not that I don’t try to ride, I just can’t call it legitimate attempts if it only happens once or twice in 4 weeks.

2016 goals are looming, I really want to move up this year and I need to start getting us fit so we are ready. My trainer had an open spot so we shipped over for a lesson. This was the first real jump school I have had since the show. It was a little intimidating at first. It was windy, neither of us are very fit and the jumps just look mammoth big, even though they aren’t.

We start warming up, Oliver is being silly spooking at stupid things he normally doesn’t thing twice about, which is not helping my confidence. He finally decides there are no ‘Dead People’ in the woods to spook at and gets down to business. We start the warm up jumps and promptly find the short distance from the trot, and I am thinking perhaps this was not the best idea and I’m regretting the lesson already. What was I thinking? Neither of us are fit for a lesson? Great, I can show off my mad chipping skills today… fun fun. I just need to suck it up and get it done so I can put the demon from the last show to rest once and for all.

We start jumping lines and suddenly instinct kicks back in, I put him in front of my leg and start asking him for a more powerful canter to the jumps. He would prefer to just go around and lope over the speed bumps in the ring at 2′6″. But once the jumps go up and I have him in front of my leg it’s an incredible feeling. He nails the oxer and the 4 to the 1 stride and my confidence ‘eye’ and in my skills are rising.

I CAN do this, suddenly I’m focusing on the smaller puzzle pieces on the course and not the distances. That powerful canter to the jumps just has the spots leaping out at me with a spotlight. ( YEAHY!!!!) Our nemesis is his over achiever gene with the lead changes through bending lines.

He keeps asking me down the bending ( 7 or angled 6) – Can I swap now? (No), Now? (NO) How about now? (NO!), BUHHTTT MOOOOOOMMMM, you’re wrong! I need to swap before I get to that jump ( NO! Olive…I promise, I’m not lying to you, your fine…- please don’t swap) CHAAA CHING….. 3 strides out.. finds the deep one to a nice tall vertical ( are you happy now Oliver?) I can feel his response through the reins.. he feels silly.. sorry mom.. . face palm..

We school it a few more times, nail it on the off lead and quit on big pats and lots of praise. It’s just amazing what a good jump school can do for your confidence. I started off wondering if someone had the local medivac on speed dial and finished off having nailed a few solid big courses and getting a little excited about the show season. 😀

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