I have a jumper derby horse. Not like the cool kind of jumper derbies where we fly down banks or do anything remotely outrageous… because we all know by now that I’m a chicken shit and won’t be trying anything crazy.
No, Simon is a jumper derby horse because we approach hunter derby courses with the gusto and enthusiasm of a jumper. A jumper without changes.
I’ve been on the fence about doing the derby this year, because even though it’s super fun for me (and let’s face it… when people throw their junior hunters in the little local derby… you go for entertainment value) the class is challenging. The barn who hosts our local derby does a great job with option fences, natural elements and tough courses. It’s not something I can head to after a few weeks of putzing around 2′ at home.
So we’ve been taking extra lessons and trying to remember what it’s like to have hunter distances (not flyers) while still carrying the right pace to do strides (which tends to produce flyers) and attempting to get our version of lead changes.
Basically, riding is hard.
Simon has been great, because he’s got such a great work ethic. He has settled a lot though in his ripe old age of 11, and needs a lot more leg in the first half of the course than he used to. Since his mom is incredibly out of shape, our whole picture suffers when I don’t ride as well as I need to.
Even after a long weekend of lesson boot camp, my usually fairly solid lower leg hasn’t returned yet. It’s replaced by a lazier mush of a foundation that prefers to lean and slip back at the fences. Not my favorite.
The good news is that I’m feeling a lot more prepared, and made the decision to actually enter the derby. So we’re going. We’ll be a little bit special – Simon is bound to show his opinion when I try to get him deep in the corners and who knows what kind of variety of lead changes he’ll offer. I’m sure to badly chip to at least one jump, and cause my trainer some form of mild to severe embarrassment.
My goal is to break into the 60’s and wear my shadbelly. One of those things is a guarantee, the other… meh?
Hunter or not, here we come.