Look Before You Leap
A rider reflects back on her journey from the comfort of the hunter ring
to the thrill of jumpers.
YOUR H RSE LIFE »
switching to jumpers. Maybe
you want a new challenge.
Maybe you’ve always
dreamed of figure-eights and
fleece-lined boots. Maybe
your new trainer said you
could do it. And you can!
To start, let’s search You Tube for
jumper classes from your venue.
This girl is only 12. Let’s watch.
She trots in. She lets her frothy,
white-eyed Satan-horse peek at
an oxer. She starts cantering. She
jumps five thousand jumps. Is
that a gallop? Didn’t she already
jump that one? OK. Close your
computer. Here’s a Tums. Don’t do
This is when you’ll regret your
decision. You’ll discover what
you’ve always thought was a fifth-gear canter is actually a lope. You’ll
miss all the good times you had in
the corners of the ring. You’ll go o;
course in a lesson because there
are too many jumps, for God’s sake.
But you’ll slowly abandon your
hunter perch, and your trainer
will talk you down. She’ll let you
pretend it’s an equitation round.
She’ll remind you that you don’t
have to wear a jacket! She’ll insist
you stop watching terrifying
Internet videos. And suddenly,
you’ll be packing for a show.
On schooling day, the jumps will
look aggressive—like they’re alive
and hungry and can smell your
fear. But you’ll also feel just a tiny
bit sexy strutting into the jumper
ring until you dodge a fat pinto
who is trying to kill your horse
and you freak out. You’ll envision
going o; course. You’ll pine for a
flat class. You’ll Google the nearest
The big moment is here!
You’re on and schooled. “When
do I do the jump-o; ?” you’ll ask
as you enter the in-gate. Maybe
you should have hashed this out
earlier. “Uh, immediately,” your
trainer will say, giggling. She forgot
this was your first time. The buzzer
will sound. Your heart will stop.
Well, that was terrifying. But
somewhere between jumps six and
seven, after you finally took your
first breath, you fit in a delicious
rollback and felt exactly like
Beezie Madden, if Beezie jumped
3' and held to every distance. You
felt e;ective. Sharp. Challenged.
And it felt fast, right? Until you
watch the video afterward. You
may actually be moving backward.
I know, it’s tough to remember, but
speed is a factor when the quickest
You’re cooling out beside the
hunter rings with your square
white pad (monogrammed of
course, aren’t you cool?). You
stayed on course. You increased
your pace by 2 percent. You got
a ribbon! Fine, it’s not about the
ribbons. (But you got one!) The
hunter rings are still going. They
will be going for hours. They might
still be going at Christmas. It looks
slow and beige, and you pity their
sweaty show coats. Tomorrow
you’ll go faster. Let’s watch that
Uh-oh. Welcome to the dark side.
Your Future HI
EMILY BOGENSCHUTZ lives
in Texas and is a freelance writer,
recent hunter-turned-jumper, and
professional sneaker of saddle pads
into the washing machine. Follow her
on Twitter @EJBog