This July I started taking Jumping lessons. When I was younger jumping wasn't something that interested me. I far preferred to do pattern work and dressage type stuff. In short, I'm a jumping novice. I've taken a handful of jumping lessons over the years. My instructor at the stable I'm riding at gave me a very nice compliment. She said the trainer (a very accomplished jumper) thought I was good and wanted to know where I came from. Jen told her I'd been everywhere.
I've got to admit, when Jen told me this I rolled my eyes and snorted out a "Ya right." You see, I'm horrifically out of shape. I can feel my body flop when it should be solid. Jen insisted. She said that they could see through my out of shape flops and see the seat I possessed. She went on to explain that I'm unique in the fact that I have a well rounded background. It made me think.
When I was young I learned how to ride bareback. Farmer style. My mom didn't believe in saddles. I didn't ride in a saddle until I was 4-H age. 4-H was my first introduction to riding "proper". It was somewhat surprising to learn one didn't just kick and pull. I began taking lessons. For the most part I rode Arabians and competed in the local shows. I rode in an English saddle and progressed on to some Arabian "A" shows. I want to be clear. My family did not have a lot of money and most of my horses were not the reliable school master type. I literally learned how to ride in the school of hard knocks. Sometimes I'm astonished that I stuck with it.
As an adult I decided that showing was horribly boring so I began to branch out. I bought a school master rope horse and learned how to rope. For the next ten years I immersed myself in the cowboy and rodeo world. I moved out into ranch and oil country, well away from the commuter acreage area I grew up in. There I hooked up with (not in the hook up sense - haha), an old cowboy who ran a small ranch complete with a stable. He was an alcoholic and full of character. Back in the day he showed and trained reining horses. Here I learned how to train a rope horse and began schooling in basic reining maneuvers. This barn became my home away from home. I shovelled shit and had my pick of horses to ride. I began "finishing" ranch horses he owned to pay for my board. I was in horsey heaven. I also had some pretty huge wrecks complete with hospital visits during this time of my life. The final hospital visit would prove to be a blow my confidence would never recover from (3rd degree concussion). I had learned how to start and finish a horse the cowboy way. My roping was progressing complete with competitions. We had even tossed around the idea of me riding a horse in the reining class at the Canadian Supreme. (There was a glorious Palamino stallion called Yeller that was good enough to go.)
At one point the cowboy lifestyle got to me. I had had enough and I moved home. Back to civilization. From this point on I rode purely for pleasure. I would do various things like take the odd jumping lesson or spend a summer turning back for cutters. And I still love going out to Ken's and spending the day doing ranch work off a horse. Pure joy.
Fast forward to now. Now I'm slightly bored but still highly pressed for time. I have a horse to play with - Marm - thank you Jesus. After Marm arrived I had some serious swings in what I wanted to do with my horsey self. I could not make up my mind. I want to cut. No I want to jump. No I want to show Arabians. No I want to... you get the idea. The problem is reality can be a bugger. What can I realistically do? What can Marm realistically do?
The outcome? With the trainers compliment ringing in my ears, (I really do have an eclectic background.), I think I'm going to focus on riding Marm English. Rationale? Marm likes being rode with contact. Loves it. I have access to high caliber trainers and lesson programs close to my house and dad's farm. And jumping challenges me. It's hard for me. It stretches my abilities.
And FYI: Marm needs a new name. She's not really a Marm and I have a hard time getting it out. So even though I hate the idea of renaming a horse, a renaming shall occur. Once I figure out what name actually works for her.