"And, when you want something, the entire Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." -The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Photos From That Time I Used to Jump...

Liz requested this one...:)

In case you haven't read the "Why 'Wait for the Jump'?" tab, the name of the blog has a story. I do endurance now, but I actually did use to jump. I did it for 17 years. I was good at it. Good enough that I wanted to represent PR in the 2004 Olympics in showjumping and I had a trainer that both felt I could do it and was willing to take me there. That was one of my highest aspirations as a teenager, and I actually chose to do homeschooling my senior year in high school so that I could pursue my showjumping career full-time. I woke up at 5:00 am, got all of my schoolwork done by 10:00 am, and then went to the barn to ride all day long, up to 6 horses at a time in one day. I was hard-core. It was my life. I lived and breathed horses and jumping. This trainer sponsored me through one of my most successful years in the jumper arena when I was 17, and I became one of the top 10 riders in my division on the island. I aced my SATs and had the only perfect score in the English section on the island because I had more long-term goals: I wanted to be able to choose whatever university I wanted. I applied only at colleges in the US with intercollegiate riding teams, because I had every intention of continuing in the jumper arena for as long as my body would allow it. And I did it: I was accepted in my #1 university of choice.

And then life did one of its 180s and all of that came crashing down. Part of the story is in the A History of Horses tab. But that is why I don't do long-term goals anymore and why I don't let my life revolve around a sport.

I used to have a chronic problem of jumping ahead and my trainer was always shouting at me, "WAIT FOR THE JUMP!!!" Until he realized that I would sit back if he jacked up the jumps to 3'6" and higher. The jumping ahead has always been an issue in my everyday life as well: I am an impatient bulldozer (to most people's surprise). It wasn't long before my mom picked up the phrase. "Wait for the jump!" she would say anytime I was impatient about x life situation. This blog has never been about jumping. It is about horses and life and about waiting for things to come to you.

I do not have a ton of jumping photos. I jumped before smartphones and cell phone cameras were the norm, so we were limited to the times when my mom or later Carlos thought to bring the camera to the barn. None of the times when I jumped at my very highest are recorded on film because no one had a camera handy at the time. I don't have a single photo of me jumping Tamarindo, the horse that jumped only for me. I started riding in 1990 and didn't even see myself riding on video until 2005, when Carlos brought the professional film camera he owned at the time (remember he had a film degree prior to switching to nursing) and video'd me riding Divot at the barn in Tampa.  I did a double-take.
"That's ME?" I exclaimed.
"Yes," Carlos said, surprised.
"I actually look like I know what I'm doing!" I said.
He looked at me like I had sprouted a second head, "Because you DO know what you're doing!"

You see, when you're a type-A like I am, you are never, ever good enough. Ever. Until you see yourself in action and realize that maybe you actually can do things halfway well.

From that day forward, Carlos took it upon himself to record media of me riding, in the hopes that one day I would see myself the way he saw me. This has expanded into almost every other area of our lives which is why this blog, my Instagram and now Facebook are FULL of photos and videos of just about everything.

Gypsy was a TB mare and one of my first loves. I learned to jump on her with my trainer Debbie. And yes, that is me: I was 14 and had hair that went below my waist in length! I had probably been jumping for about 6 months here, hence the terrible lower leg. This was a summer camp show; we did a pretend jumper event. We were given a course and had to go over the fences as fast as possible. I think I took 7th place?  Gypsy is the mare that I later competed in Equitation Over Fences, a most-hated division that made me turn to the Jumpers. We did not have Hunters in PR. 
Another 6 months after the previous photo. The horse is Sunlight, also a TB. He could jump anything and I adored him. Loose lower leg, but I could trot and canter for hours without stirrups. It's all we did in lessons at this point. I was still 14, only jumping for a year, and it was already impossible for a horse to buck me off. I could stick anything thanks to all the no-stirrup work.

Another blurry shot of Sunlight and me, taken on the same day.

This horse...this asshat's name was Bailey. I was 16 when my trainer Ron decided he was going to be my steady ride. I was a recovering anorexic and was still building my strength back up. I could not stand this horse: he was a large pony that no one else could ride over fences because he had the dirtiest stop. He had a gorgeous, super-correct jump that involved cracking his back over the fence that invariably bounced my out of the saddle. You couldn't tell, but I would always land in a heap, which meant that he would invariably try to refuse the following fence as he laughed at me, "You SUCK!" But...when we were good together, we were SO GOOD though! We were beautiful. He was exhausting to ride. This is the only pro photo I have of myself jumping, and it was on Bailey at one of a handful of rated shows we competed in together. (Yes, we had rated shows in PR.) The photo was on display at the barn where I took lessons at, El Centro Ecuestre de Puerto Rico, along with the rest of the riding team's pics. Puerto Rico's Olympic hopefuls in showjumping trained at this barn (there were only three upper level show barns on the island at the time; El Centro Ecuestre was the oldest, and doesn't exist anymore), and my photo was one of many up on the walls for all to see. It made me *face-palm* every time I walked past it at the barn club house because of the irony. What was the irony of this photo? This was taken at the second fence on course. Bailey and I were eliminated at the third fence. *insert laughing emoji here*

I was 17 when this pic was taken, the year was 1997. The horse is Antares, a lovely, lovely TB owned by one of the wealthiest boarders in our barn. She was one of those that could afford to show in the US as well. Antares was being trained as a hunter to be exported to the mainland. It was a very, very special privilege to be able to ride him in a lesson on this day: NO ONE was allowed to ride this horse other than his owner and my trainer. Antares was cantering over these little fences. I love my position here. I'm wearing custom tall boots for which we had to scrape money together in order to afford.
It was around this time that Ron had me ride Bailey again...and he was not an issue whatsoever. Funny how having a strong body can make such a huge difference in your riding ability! ;)
This is Lucero, my Paso Fino! Back when we still kept him at home. My brother and grandfather were putting away a load of hay when Lucero escaped the barn yard, leaping over a stack of hay bales in order to make his getaway. The second I heard that story I said, "He jumps, huh? Let's do something about that!"
This was a tiny, tiny, tiny jump. The highest we ever did was 2'. It is REALLY AWKWARD to jump a horse when you have no neck in front of you because he barely scrapes 14 hh! I was also 17 here.

Fast-forward to Tampa, FL. The year is 2005. Here I am popping Divot, my trainer's semi-retired jumper, over a few fences in the jump field. She wanted to bring him back into work for her lesson program, as he was not handling retirement well. I was the guinea pig. :)

Divot took my trainer at the time up the ranks in Pony Club when she was a kid and there was a story about him clearing a 5' fence from a standstill during his heyday. This was nothing for him.
Divot again, at his first comeback show with me on board. I think he was happy to be back in the show ring. What do you think? ;) 
Schooling on Grasshopper, whom I told you guys about in my previous post, in the covered arena of the Tampa barn.
My eq wasn't going to shine in a George Morris clinic but it was functional, and that's what my trainer loved about it.
More fences on Grassy. :)
This was a 3' oxer in the jump field. Again: this was nothing for the horse nicknamed Grasshopper.
In the warm-up arena at the one show in Pinellas County where I got to compete Grassy. That's my trainer in the purple and black, and his owner in the pink. The year is 2006.
2'9" jumpers on Grassy. Same show.

South FL, 2010. Cloud was going to be my next jumper and even though he was a QH of unknown history, he was quite capable. I like my leg but I am ducking SO BAD here! He had a bad habit of rushing fences that made it especially hard to sit back and wait.
South FL, 2011. This was little Bella, an Arab/Welsh Pony cross that my BM acquired for the lesson program. My BM was an...interesting character. Let's just say I never knew when the hell she was telling the truth about anything. Supposedly she acquired Bella for free and she had been a children's lesson pony prior. This little girl did great for me, but she had a typical pony temperament...and I could never get the kids in our lesson program to successfully control her! But I had a ton of fun with her anyway. Here I was making sure she really COULD jump...and it was true.

The one and only time I ever competed in the Hunters. This was at a local schooling show. My BM wanted to campaign Bella as a re-sale project and since none of the kids could ride her, of course it was me showing her. She did fabulously. 
We won Grand Champion.
(I'm not going to tell you guys we were the only ones in this division...hahahahaha....)
On Pink, the OTTB mare that made me fall in love with mares all over again. She had been adopted by a barn mate who wanted a trail horse...and she ended up with this amazing beast of a mare that had the fanciest buttons. I had a ball working with Pink. There was quite literally nothing I couldn't do with her. She was not a fan of jumping, but we did it for funsies, just to see if she could. She said "yes" every time I asked. This was our first time jumping. My form is wobbly from focusing mainly on dressage, with a defensive upper body because I didn't know what to expect. 
In this one I was behind the motion, but doing the best to stay out of Pink's way.
This is Mecke. He was my BM's personal horse. Can you say "overjump"???? I was jumped out of the saddle each time. I'm not sure how I stuck this! This was also in a TINY arena where we were ending up against the arena wall within two strides after this fence. It was nothing short of terrifying: I kept thinking Mecke was going to jump the arena wall!...which had a 10' drop into the neighbor's driveway on the other side. NO THANK YOU.

On Liz's Q in 2014. I had not jumped in 3 years when this photo was taken.
Lily's first jump school under saddle ever, taken at the beginning of this year. I had not jumped in two years since the time with Q.
Also on Lily. I never posted these here! It's a still from a video taken with my cell on the fence post back in July of this year. We were originally going to do a dressage school in the field in front of my BO's house and the jumps in the jump field were calling my name. I was in the Alta Escuela. We effectively jumped a course (hahahaha...) by stringing three fences together in a varying sequence. It was Lily's second time over fences under saddle, and the most recent time I have jumped this year. :)


  1. I love going through old photos and seeing what was and how it affected the journey to today. :)

  2. YAY. Thank you. I love this so so much. The first photo where you note how much you love your position I was thinking as I scrolled to it how awesome your position was! I'm glad you confirmed my thoughts 'cause heaven knows you know 294729x more than me and I love having your confirmation on jumping things. =)

    1. Sent you the full criticism of all the others. Lol ;) These are the best ones of few ones I have, and I still think most of them are not representative of what my trainers said was my ability at the time!

  3. Aw I love looking back through old pics too, and totally relate to not having pics of some of my best or favorite memories. Which is maybe why I'm such a nut about getting allllll the pictures now lol

    1. THIS. Exactly. It is literally what I just said to Liz in an e-mail:

      "The pics I featured on the blog are the best ones of the ones I do have, and I still think most of them are embarrassing, except for the one where I was on Antares, the one where I was on Bailey (that was a 3' jump, so my position is appropriate for the horse that cracked his back over fences), and the two on Lily. What I never realized while riding in PR because we didn't have a video camera is that a photo only shows a fraction of a second in time, which is why video is so much more valuable for getting the full picture (pun intended) of how a jump or a dressage test or just about anything was done at that moment in time. You either need a really good photographer with a fast camera lens to take a TON of pictures of you going over fences so you can get an accurate assessment of your shittiness or stellar-ness, or a means of getting it all on video. A ton of photos all taken at precisely the wrong moment over your worst fence on the course will do a fabulous job of encouraging you to throw in the towel! Hahaha...Now, if only I had seen photos like that [the two good ones of me on Lily now] back when I did the sport consistently, maybe deep down inside I wouldn't have been convinced that I was a horrible rider."

      This is exactly why I'm a nut about all the pictures now, and why I'm forever thankful of having a husband and friends willing to photograph as much of every moment as they possibly can!

  4. Is the barn in Tampa with the covered Showcase? I grew up/ lived in Tampa for about 8 years and rode at a place that looked quite similar!

    1. This was not Showcase but I know which barn Showcase is! :D We used to get a lot of clients from there at the tack shop and a dear friend of mine that reads the blog used to ride at Showcase herself, and loved it. The barn in the pics here was Brass Ring Equestrian Center, which sadly doesn't exist anymore. Trainer B was leasing the property and it was put up for sale; she purchased her own place in the Tampa area right after we moved to South Florida.

      Small, small world though! :)

  5. Ahhh I miss jumping so much. I don't think my leg will ever let me do it again. But this post took me down memory lane.

    1. You had such gorgeous form over fences! I still stare at your jumping pics when you re-post them. <3

  6. I love the posts where you share photos and stories from your past <3

  7. So cool getting to see your riding history/bakground through photos! It may not seem like a lot, but that's more than I've got lol. I think I have only one photo of myself jumping, but that was my passion as a teen as well! Then I ended up with a horrible trainer who just sucked the fun out of all of it and left me completely browbeaten and hating everything about the hunter/jumper/dressage world. Hence the reason I took up trail riding and (ultimately) became interested in endurance. Of course, that is an untapped sport for me as well. I seem destined to dream, but never to do lol.