Ah, look, I’ve given away the punchline in the title. But you seem to have read beyond it, so I’ll carry on anyway.
Yesterday night was my jump lesson. It being the lesson before the show on Sunday, I may have put a little too high of an expectation on it, but I just wanted to repeat what I’d done before to build my confidence.
Unfortunately my instructor, full of new ideas after having a lesson from someone new herself at the weekend, had different ideas about confidence building than I did. I’d never cantered in jump position except for over the jump, but she wanted me to keep the position from as soon as I cantered to whenever I stopped cantering on the other side of the jump. It was also the first time I’d started off the lesson jumping from canter instead of jumping at least the first few in trot. I did not like it. I did not feel that I had any balance, I did not feel that I had any steering and I really did not like the feeling of the jump itself. I complained a great deal but I did it, and didn’t freak out until she said I could stop and canter over one normally, at which point I’d run out of bravery and willingness and refused to jump.
So we had a talk. She pointed out that it was supposed to be fun. She suggested that perhaps jumping is not for me. She couldn’t believe that I was worried about jumping on Sunday when it was only Thursday, which gave me an alternate view on the fact that I can dread a jump lesson at least for a fortnight in advance, and that’s a no-pressure lesson. She shared that although she goes eventing all the time, she hates “stressage” and endures that because to get to the jumping bits – for her all the fun is in jumping. It’s OK to not enjoy all disciplines. We agreed I probably wouldn’t book any more jump lessons.
And it’s OK not to jump on Sunday, regardless of whether the form is filled in and the fee paid.
Discussion over, me calmer, I went to have a trot over some jumps. But by now Drifter had had a lot of mixed messages about whether we were jumping and decided to take advantage. As I was somewhat conflicted about going over the jumps he found it very easy to go around them. We went around more than we went over, and so I yielded my horse to the instructor. A little “discussion” later and he was going beautifully for her. I got back on and twice jumped 4 jumps, back to back, no issues, no arguments and we called it a day.
I told her I might still do Sunday, because I felt too committed to back out.
Half a sleepless night later, I decided as soon as I got a chance I would e-mail the yard and withdraw from all jump-related things on Sunday! This has now been done and confirmed and I feel much better. Except when I don’t.
The thing was, there were lots of reasons to jump:
- all the people I spend time with on the yard jump constantly and it would be nice to join in
- at the shows all the atmosphere and camaraderie is around the jumping
- “proper riders” jump
- Drifter likes to jump (mostly)
- Everyone is encouraging and interested when they hear I’m going to have a jump lesson
- I had moments of feeling that I’d progressed/achieved something
- Non riders all assume you jump, constantly, and don’t seem aware that it’s possible to ride and not jump
- Ex riders all seem to reminisce about jumping
- I dreamed of having a nice picture of me jumping something larger than 2 foot
But you know what? I’d sort of missed the fact that none of these overrules the one reason not to jump:
I don’t like it!
Also, as a minor bonus, if I don’t jump I won’t have a martingale to clean 🙂
As a major bonus, if I’m not having jump lessons, I’ll have more time and money for flatwork and dressage.
Why (on earth) did I start jumping in the first place? Because of peer pressure and instructor pressure and timing. When the riding school closed and the beginner jump group was advertised I thought I had to join it as my only possible chance to join a beginner group starting from the basics. Then once I’d started I was afraid that if I stopped I’d never overcome the fear and do it again. But at no point did I ever actually feel ready to or want to go over a jump.
The fear at the beginning was blinding, and it did lessen, but it was never replaced by enjoyment, as I’d sort of assumed it would be at some point. After 6 months, I feel I can say I’ve given it a good go.
Part of me, prone to drama, is crying out “I hate jumping! I’ll never jump again!” But the rest of me wonders if one day, maybe years from now, I might actually feel like it’s the right time for me to want to jump. Maybe I’ll feel like a new challenge and actually feel like leaving the ground. Or maybe I won’t. This I do know: I have no intention of approaching another jump until I want to go over it. Sod what everyone else wants, even the pony-boy. No jumping unless I want to. That’s the new rule.