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



Why "Wait For The Jump"?


Okay, so one look at one of my most recent posts, and you will realize that this blog is not about jumping. Sorry about that. But there's a reason for it, so if you'll bear with me for a second, you'll see why.

This blog's original name used to be "Wait For The Jump" when I first started it because in the very, very beginning, I was playing around with the idea of turning Lily into an eventer, and also because of the story I will tell you in a minute. (Just wait for it.)  When my barn in FL forbade us from jumping due to liability issues, I just stuck to dressage and switched the blog name to "Freestyle" because I wasn't able to make up my mind about what discipline I wanted us to participate in, and I figured a jump reference title would confuse potential readers: it would never attract dressage readers, and it would turn off h/j readers when they realized there is really no jumping going on here whatsoever.

In June 2013, I changed my mind and switched it back. "Freestyle" is just a plain old boring title and I was tired of going "Meh" when I saw it. 

This is the story behind the "Wait For The Jump" title:

When I first started officially jumping, I took lessons with this trainer in the Guaynabo area in Puerto Rico who was famous for teaching kids to stay on anything. Anything. Most of her horses were bonafide bonkers by school horse standards, but they would have been stellar in the US Grand Prix jumper circuit. This woman picked horses that jumped. They would jump ANYTHING you put in front of them, whether you wanted them to or not. I didn't deal with refusals and stops until years later down the line, because this woman had a barnful of horses that were chosen strictly for their ability to lock and go.

Can you say long spot? This was Sunlight, a big chestnut OTTB. I LOVED him; he was one of my faves to jump. Check out his expression: like I said, lock and go! And mouth wide open because his only gear while jumping was Full Throttle.  I still had long hair, and was wearing full chaps. I was 14. That's the trainer in the background, setting up jumps.
I rode with her for about 2 years, where I went from cross rails to a little over 3'. By the end of that time, I had the most solid seat I've ever had, could ride anything without stirrups for hours if you asked me to (which also trained me to pinch with my knees when riding...it took a long time to undo that), and could control a horse flying through a course at top speed just enough to be able to tell it when to turn. All that stuff about collection, engagement, balance, flexion, lateral work...all the fine tuning I'm obsessed with now? Oh, and the term "seeing a distance"? Didn't hear about any of that until a couple years later. This woman didn't teach any of that. But she certainly taught you how to stay on a horse no matter what it did.

The end result of riding horses that would only gallop through a course was that I was incapable of seeing a shorter distance. Longer distances? Hell yeah. The problem with this was that the minute you put me on a horse that was properly trained that needed to be set up correctly in front of the jump, I started rushing, rushing, rushing him to take the long spot. By this time, I had switched to my awesome trainer Ron Howe, who had a bachelor's in Equine Studies with a major as equestrian teacher. He was super well-rounded as a trainer, and he was the first one to teach me that riding on the flat wasn't just w/t/c; there was a lot more to it than that. He was the one who introduced me to the basic concepts of dressage.

Ron put me on increasingly difficult and technical horses who required a lot of skill to get over fences. He said he would exorcise my previous trainer's ingrained bad habits one way or another. (Lol!) He gave me the tools to later be able to train by myself for years (I didn't find trainers of his caliber until I moved to the US) and to be able to figure out a horse within a few minutes of mounting up.

During the Ron era, riding at El Centro Ecuestre de Puerto Rico (the Puerto Rican Equestrian Center, in the city of Santurce). Shorter spot, not jumping ahead *quite* as much, heels to China, flat back. Super long-ass reins. This horse's name was Antares, a privately owned horse that I was allowed to ride for a lesson. He was a very technical horse, and I had been told to just stay out of his face over the jumps and just ride him with seat and legs, which is why I kind of overdid it with the reins. We had a super smooth, flowing course, though. Even his owner was impressed.
 I was 18.

Years and years later. I was 25, riding in Tampa at the Brass Ring Equestrain Center. I had trained by myself for the previous 6 years, up until this moment, when I started exercising horses in exchange for lessons. This was a 3' oxer on Grasshopper, an awesome Appendix gelding who was aptly named. Still jumping ahead a bit, but I'm happy with the rest of my position, especially given the fact that we were galloping this course. Grassy was a known rusher to the fences, and only a handful of people were willing to ride him. I loved him!
The one thing he yelled the most when I was approaching a fence? (You can see in the Sunlight photo why...)

"WAIT FOR THE JUMP!!"

I'm an impatient person. People think I'm super calm, quiet and patient. I'm not. Charles, my brother and my mom can tell you all about it. I've become better as I've gotten older, but my mom used to say I would bulldoze through life to get what I want, one way or another. That kind of determination is a good thing to have. If I didn't have it, my life would be a complete opposite from what it is now. Sometimes you really do have to make things happen. But a lot of really good things in life require patience and just simply waiting for them to come. "Wait for the jump" became a common phrase in our house. Whenever I was impatient about something, my mom would put a hand on my shoulder and say, "Wait for the jump." I have it written down in notebooks, graffitied onto every backpack I own, and I should probably tattoo it somewhere on my body.

And that's why I gave the blog that name, and why I gave it back it's original name, even though Lily and I don't jump. It applies to the patience you need to properly train a horse; it applies to dressage, to the time it takes to develop a horse correctly so they can do the following moves on the training scale; it applies to rehabbing your horse step by step while allowing her to heal; it applies to taking the time to do long slow distance with your possible endurance horse to put a baseline fitness on her; it applies to quiet days in the ER as a vet tech waiting for the next emergency to come in through the door; it applies to waiting for your patient to adjust to the changes you made to his anesthesia before trying to make further changes; it applies to allowing things to fall into place so you can get to where you want to be next. As a rider, as a couple, as a professional. It applies to everything in life. Sometimes you can't bulldoze your way through things; sometimes you've already done everything you can, and you just have to sit back and wait for it to come.

See the distance, sit back, and let the jump come to you.

Wait for the jump.

4 comments:

  1. Brought tears to my eyes.

    Patience is easy when you have what you want. Forward momentum will carry you through a lot of things, but not rehab, not endurance, not dressage.

    Thank you for this page.

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  2. This is really lovely. From one long-spotter to another, thank you!

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  3. I prefer the long. This was a wonderful story. Maybe I should wait for it more too.

    ReplyDelete