Sure, here’s one for ya…
My little TB mare started jumping training after her race career was over. I gave it a try to sell her as a kid’s hunter prospect for $2500, but no one wanted to even look at her, so I figured I’d keep her and show her myself. We were doing mostly hunter classes at first, she’s just little at 15.2, but cute and a good jumper, always nice style and always brave, and a bit of a perfectionist . I’ve done mostly jumpers previously, some bigger stuff when I was younger, and happy enough to play in the little hunters as I eased back into horse showing again after my stint training racehorses. So, no doubt a bit rusty, and the horse was green. But she was always game, I had jumped her through some grids, and she was happy as they went up a bit, so I figured that maybe we could play a bit in some of the local jumper classes at the local shows. One fall fair offered s “3 bar” competition as one of their specialty classes, with prize money, so I figured we’d give that a try. I jumped her up to 4’ at home, and she was good with that, no problem. So off we went to the horse show. I figured we would be OK up to at least that height, and we would probably roll a rail at some point about then.
So they start this class very low, almost tough to get the two strides in the 36 feet when the jumps are tiny, like 2’6", the two strides are long. But we canter through it, as does most everyone else, no problem. Then they raise it. Each round. No problem for us. As things started to get quite large, and my little mare kept on eating these jumps up… she was keen, focused and happy, the bigger they got, the happier she was. But she was still a green horse, with experience mostly in the hunter divisions, and not big jumps.
As the jumps went up, I was trying to get her to the base of these jumps, so that she could jump UP, rather than OVER like a hunter. The striding gets tighter as the jumps go up, and especially with a horse who is still really just a hunter, so I was searching for the base coming into the first one. The first one was now 4’, the second one was 4’3" and the last one was now a 4’6" oxer (ya, I know, but it’s a fall fair and not subject to “normal” rules). A wide oxer.
We cantered in to the first one, and she flattened just a bit on that last stride. We hit the rail hard. The rail came down (which means elimination at this point), but we landed with that rail on the far side of that first jump, it was kind of stuck between her front legs, tripping her and hampered her landing. Her front end went down, nose on the ground, rail between her front legs. I stayed on through this, don’t know how. I dropped my inside hand, to help to guide her out of the line, we were already to one side of the line and pointed OUT of the line.
But she kept her feet, did not fall. She also failed to turn herself OUT of the line. She said, “It’s OK mom, I can jump this from here”, and took herself back into the line, the one stride to the second jump, and two strides again to the last big oxer. This was NOT my plan at all, I just put the reins on her neck, stayed out of her way, and let her do her thing. She was awesome. We finished in second place, as the other horse jumped clean through this, and there were only two of us left. I was stunned. The amazing talent, the amazing courage, the amazing work ethic of this little horse, who took over and saved the day, and still got her work done with brilliance, even after an error.
We moved on into the jumper divisions after this… the dumb human figured out that that was where we belonged. We competed in this class at several different shows over the next few years, and it was always her favourate, and we won it more often than not. We were never asked to jump higher than 5’ at the last one, which she did successfully on these occasions. She never did flatten in front of the first one again though, never made that mistake again. Always bounce in super slow, get to the base of the first one, and pop through the three of them as easy as pie.
At one of these shows, someone in the audience took a picture with a cell phone, and sent it to me on facebook. I don’t know who this person is, no one I know. But that picture is precious to me. Kindness from a stranger. My little mare is retired now, living out her days with her family herd. She’s a treasure!
I shall try to attach the picture here, I have not done this since the format change here, so I have no idea what I’m doing, don’t know if this is the right one as I can’t preview it.