My hometown is very horse-y. If you drive down the main street, Bay Road, there are cross walks for horses. Buttons to change the “walk” light in a cross walk are located higher up on a pole so riders can reach. The land is mostly made up of farms and fields, where horses of all kind are kept.
Each discipline is well represented, too. Hunters, Jumpers, Eventers, and Dressage riders alike kept their horses at the sprawling “Flying Horse Stable”. Ledyard farm, only two or three miles away, is home to the first three-day event in the United States. Myopia Hunt Club features Sunday polo matches, rated shows, and access to schooling cross country jumps. At the end of the summer, Fidelity Investments sponsored a high-level show. Incredible riders, including Olympians, competed in an annual Grand Prix.
While I can’t remember the prize money from the Fidelity Investments Jumper Classic, I can remember the moment I saw Peter Wylde’s Fein Cera clear the top of an enormous triple bar oxer. The beautiful mare was Breyer model beautiful. She was absolutely stunning with a feminine head, deep and empathetic eyes, and some serious talent. Enamored, I quickly got in line to get his signature on the Dover Saddlery catalog I had with me. He signed it, but out of the corner of my eye I saw other kids who were heading into the jump field to see the jumps up close. Naturally this was more important, and so I ditched the catalog and trotted off to check the jumps.
Let me start by saying I’m a pretty petite lady. At 5’1” on a good day as an adult, you can image the teensy person I was at six or seven. The splendor of those jumps encouraged me to run right on up to one, stand beneath it, and marvel at the space between my head and the closest rail. How in the world could someone be on a horse big enough to get over this? How did they stay on?! Surely, this was the work of magic and I decided right then and there that was some magic I needed in my life.
When someone would ask me what my goals were with my riding, I wouldn’t say the Olympics. I wouldn’t say the equitation medals, and I wouldn’t talk about what shows I’d like to compete in. Instead, I’d tell them, “My goal is to jump a course of jumps bigger than myself.”
Since then, I’ve moved up from cross-rails to verticals, and from verticals to oxers. The jumps have gotten big, but they’re not big enough yet. The highest fence I’ve jumped is just a few inches over 4’. There’s only a few inches to go.
If I was too much larger than I am, that wouldn’t really be feasible. But seeing as I can barely see over the top of a jump in a Grand Prix course even now, some 18 years later, I think it’s a pretty good lifetime goal.