It was great to be home, and things settled into a nice routine. I rode several times a week, and by this time Starr was rising 5. I decided it was time to see what this show jumping lark was all about. I hadn’t had any lessons in jumping, having barely learnt to ride when I bought Starr. We would learn together, though, as we had done everything else. In fact, since I had had so little training before I bought Starr, I had invented my own aids.
Being lazy with my legs, I carried a riding crop and the aid to canter was a tap on his shoulder. I didn’t like trotting, so it became a gait we never used. We walked, and we slow cantered. Starr had a wonderful, rocking horse canter where I could sit back, with slack reins, and just enjoy the gentle rocking motion. While others were bouncing up and down at a trot, I was rocking along on my horse who could canter as slowly as they trotted. Bliss.
There was a riding school down the road from the farm where I lived, and I hired an instructor to teach us how to jump. Apart from the time he had jumped out of his paddock, Starr had never encountered and obstacle, and never carrying me. We started with little jumps, which Starr scorned, and trotted over them. The instructor raised the bar, and Starr picked his feet up higher. I, of course, was afraid of jumping, but determined to overcome my fears. Starr had no problem with it at all. By the second day, the instructor had raised the jumps to about two feet high, and Starr sailed over them.
The jumps got bigger, and my nerves frazzled. By the third day, the instructor was building jumps that were 3ft 3” with a 2-foot spread! Starr never so much as touched a pole, but every time he landed, I ended up clinging to his neck. I was bad like that. Of course, it would have helped if the instructor had told me to lean back when we landed. So, I became more and more afraid of these huge jumps, and, as a consequence I didn’t push Starr when we approached them. He would canter up to the jump, which looked like a fence to him, and, since I wasn’t asking him to keep going, he would simply stop in front of it. The instructor, thinking he was refusing, would shout at me to make him jump it.
I would give Starr a little push with my heels, and he would simply jump it from a standstill. That was even more unnerving! That boy could jump! Even jumping from a standstill, he sailed over with room to spare, and never so much as rapped a pole. After three days, however, I’d had enough of this jumping lark, and decided I didn’t enjoy it after all, so what was the point of doing it? I quit the jumping training and went back to out riding, deciding to become a cowgirl instead. I bought a Western saddle and a walking horse bit, and we must have looked like a right pair!