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winter riding outdoors

Elephants Never Forget

I have to confess that I was the tiniest bit nervous for my lesson on Thursday. Miles and I don’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to jumping indoors, and we hadn’t done much riding (much less jumping) in the last two months. In fact, the last line of jumps we conquered was at our horse show in October. With our clinic looming closer and closer, I figured I should probably make sure the wheels didn’t rust… and that I hadn’t forgotten how to jump my horse.

chunky monkeys
Our impressions of an elephant earlier this fall

So I tacked up Big Red and hopped aboard Thursday evening. We did some exercises on the flat to warm up, which was  great since as I said, I haven’t even ridden Miles that much lately. He wasn’t perfect at the canter on the flat — he was a bit grumpy and slow through the transition, BUT he didn’t cow kick or really say “no”… he was just a little annoyed. Once in the canter he thought about playing once or twice by putting his head down and shaking it, but he wasn’t really trying to be bad. It’s sort of hard to explain, but instead of feeling mean-spirited and pissed, it felt more like he was testing me and being kind of playful. I was able to quickly correct the behavior, letting him know that he had to keep his head up and keep cantering.  But otherwise, I sort of ignored the issues. I didn’t press for perfect canter transitions or a huge gallop on the flat — both issues I know are sure to start an argument between us.

winter riding indoors
Riding and taking photos indoors is really, really hard for us

Over fences I started out defensive and nervous. We started by trotting into a short 6-stride line (crossrail to a 2′ vertical) and I’ll admit to not giving much of a release or following the motion of his jump very well through my upper body. Again, he thought about playing, but never got light in the hind end like he usually does and I picked him up easily, and cantered away like NBD. After that, I resolved to ride better and trust more. It took a few times, but the more we went the more I realized that I hadn’t completely forgotten how to jump this horse.

winter riding outdoors
That damn right leg ruins this picture for me.

Sure, it took a bit to get my confidence up, and my default is to ride more defensively and conservatively, but that’s okay. We finished the lesson with a nice “keep coming” distance out of the corner to a more filled-in 2’3″-2’6″ single. I saw my distance early, committed to it and rode it beautifully. Miles rewarded me by listening, jumping really well, and landing like a perfect gentleman. With our “test ride” successfully out of the way, I’m feeling confident in my choice to ride him in the clinic this weekend.


Fly On Over is an equestrian lifestyle blog devoted to connecting horse lovers around the world. By providing equestrians with practical tips and tricks related to horse ownership, discussing training techniques for horse and rider, as well as covering industry news.

11 thoughts on “Elephants Never Forget

  1. Can’t wait to hear about the clinic (and see pictures). I feel that way for sure if I haven’t jumped in a while. Sounds like you have a really good handle on it though and Miles is ready.

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