Admitting I don’t like jumping

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.



15 thoughts on “Admitting I don’t like jumping

  1. theInelegantHorseRider says:

    I am fully with you on this one! I totally understand the reasons you listed (bar the pony related one, one day maybe) and those reasons have always made me think I should persevere but I am with you and your instructor – we are meant to enjoy riding. Well done for making a decision that it takes guts to make and you have 100% given it a great go.

  2. mellchan says:

    Good for you. I was riding with one of the jumping girls the other day working on transitions and lead changes and she stopped and looked at me and said “why don’t you ever do anything?” For her she doesn’t care about all of the other things and only sees jumping as true riding…..I find it funny as I then asked her to try and canter a small circle without falling out and she simply couldn’t do it. I hope she realizes her mistake… any case I enjoy the thrill of jumping to a certain degree but my passion is dressage……do what your heart says 🙂

  3. Ooh, I do feel the same … but …but … you list all the reasons you feel inclined to jump, and I don’t think these will change. However, you have been encouraged to progress quite fast and your instructors seem to have pushed you on beyond your comfort zone maybe? IMHO there is great common sense in concentrating on you and D continuing to pursue the “oneness” you’ve been finding more and more before upping your game at jumping. This is how I feel with my boy – until our balance and control of pace is making us both feel good I won’t be doing more than popping over the odd cross pole. If something goes awry at jumping, which is, inevitably, more high-risk, you could lose confidence overall. Perhaps if, as you say, you put your energy and financial resources into general training, ie; dressage/flatwork, the moment will come when you and Drifter feel secure and ready to take on the jumping challenge at some future point; pressure off the present.
    (And if you wonder why I am “interfering”, it’s a sort of compliment! Reading your posts has helped me channel my energy back into schooling and being more ambitious in my/our aims, so thank you and please keep the inspiration coming!…)

  4. The Dancing Rider says:

    I’m with you! It’s interesting how different riders, and different barns, are oriented toward one discipline as perhaps being “real riding” over another?

    I have no desire to jump whatsoever. I love flat work. Yes, I said it, and some think I am crazy as they find “flat work” so “boring”. That’s my passion in riding. I applaud anything riders want to do, and think there is no one form which is more “real’ than another.

    That said, it is so important to spend your time doing what you LIKE in riding. I can see how you might have drifted (no pun intended re Drifer) into jumping, given the apparent nature of your barn. However, as you say, there is no point when it is not fun. And it is especially good that you recognize that it is not for you, regardless of whether Drifter likes to jump or not.

    You have made the best decision for you, your safety, and your enjoyment of riding! Good for you! 🙂

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      Thank you.
      And the thing with Drifter’s preferences is that yes he likes to jump, but he likes to jump with a willing and confident partner. I can’t offer that so with me he finds it frustrating. Neither of us were actually enjoying it, so even his wants aren’t a reason to carry on.
      Q.E.D. 😉

  5. Liz at Libro says:

    When I used to ride, I hated jumping. Ugh. Too scary. I liked caring for the horse, grooming it, riding bareback down to the field, polishing saddles. I often wonder if I gave up because I got to a point where we were kind of expected to start “proper” jumping and I didn’t like it. Just like I now like road running and not all that muddy stuff people think all runners do. Well done for making the decision.

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      Thank you. Everything is so much better now I’ve taken a step back and analysed where I want to go with my riding rather than getting shepherded into meeting other peoples’ expectations.

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