I had been riding horses for the last 3 years, and I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. However, it was the matter of starting scared me. I had watched the older kids jump the big fences with the same horses I was taking my ground lessons on. I knew that they could take it with ease, but I also knew I could not do it without feeling as if I was going to fall. Falling on the flat was no big deal, something that I did time and time again in my 3 years of riding, but falling in the air?! The idea of it was terrifying.
I remember how nervous I was the day I pulled up to the barn with my mom, at the time not sure about how this would change the rest of my life forever. I walked to the end of the barn, to the stall labeled Sapphire. She was an ornery mare that only the more advanced students were allowed to ride but she knew how to get over the jumps and how to look good doing it. My hands fumbled as I tightened the girth on the saddle, as I put on my sleek black helmet my slightly dirty gloves and tightened the chinstrap on her bridle. This was it.
Walking to the arena this time I felt as if I was already a new person, the smell of the fresh shavings of the recently churned dirt in the arena. The wood of the gate was rough and ragged like it had been before but it was not the same as it was last week.
I checked the girth one last time and climbed on this horse who was about to take me somewhere I couldn’t come back from. My trainer came into the arena and as I did my warm up trotting and cantering around the rail she set up the jump. First a few ground poles just like so many times before, and then it was time.
I gathered up on my reins, got up into my position that I had spent months perfecting. One last look at my mother before I trotted down the rail straight…straight…step two three four, one two three four, one two three four. Closer. Closer. Two strides to go, one to go. I close my eyes and feel the front feet leave the ground, up, up, up and then down, down hard.
I open my eyes as I land on the other side. Safe. We trot down the rail to the end of the arena still in position. Then we stop in the middle of the ring, both of us breathing hard. I look at my trainer and she says “You know it’s okay to open your eyes as you go over”. I smile and look down and say, “okay I will, next time.”