We were jumping and focusing on a straight approach and maintaining a line to the jump. There were two skinny boxes (about 18”) and 2 verticals (about 2’9”). I had one funny approach at the first box (she jumped over thin air to the left of the box), but then she settled into hopping over whatever I pointed her at. There was no rushing toward the fences. There was no rushing off after landing… It all felt so consistent! Even the verticals were just smooth sailing! Then, we approached from the short side of the arena. As we turned off the rail, she fell down into a trot. I kicked her back up into the canter, maintaining our line… I thought, “She’ll get it together before we get to the jump.”
But she wasn’t even looking at the jump. She wasn’t even thinking about the jump. We still maintained our line… Then, we got to the jump (one of the 2’9” verticals), and suddenly, she saw it! Our conversation went as follows:
We’re not actually jumping that, are we?
Oh, yes. We are. Get over it.
Are you sure? I really wasn’t ready…
Well, that was your own fault for not paying attention. We’ve been on this line, so maintain it and get over that fence!
Oh. Well, OK. If you really insist…
It felt as if she sucked it in with everything she had, and she launched from what must have been a ridiculously short spot…
We hung in the air as time stopped.
I had time to think: “She jumped! Good girl! Oh, my leg should NOT be that close to my seat… I am way out of the tack! I’m not going to be on this horse when we get to the other side! I’m going to go over her ears when she lands! Well, nothing I can do about it now…”
Time resumed, and we landed on the other side. I was astounded to find myself still aboard my horse. Only later did I realize that she STILL CLEARED THE FENCE!
It is important for an eventing horse to be able to get out of a tight spot without blatant instruction from the rider. Not only did she make the attempt from a ridiculously unprepared position and state of mind, she cleared the fence and kept me in the tack while she did it! THIS is a horse that can make a reliable eventing partner! We are learning to trust each other… *sigh*