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How High Can You Jump = How Good of A Rider You Are

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I have come to notice that in majority of the English equestrian community, when other (child) riders want to know how good of a rider you are, the first and usually only thing they ask is: "How high can you jump?"
My response to this question used to be a couple of inches higher than what I was schooling, just to sound a little more impressive. Now, I have come to think this matter over much after I had been dumped by a trainer, not jumped for over a year, and was riding among other girls again. In truth though, I didn't think over the matter until after my first lesson with my new trainer, Sandy.
It was a hectic lesson, Simon, my horse, kept bolting, bucking, and acting like a fool. Me, I was laughing my head off for reasons I didn't even know why, maybe because I shared my horse's excitement. Anyways, due to Simon being so hyper, I was jumping cross-rails the whole lesson; trying to keep Simon from bolting after every jump. After a successful go-around the jumps my lesson was done and I walked Simon out. Once back at the barn, one of the smaller girls named Susanna walked up to me, looking at the jumps set up in the arena with a look of smug amazement on her face. I found out the source of her smugness a second later when she says, "Wow! I can jump higher than you!" Automatically, I feel defensive,
"Ha! Your horse wasn't bucking and bolting!" Only after I had walked away did I realize how stupid my response was and quite frankly, the whole conversation.
Susanna had a bomb proof mare who was good about everything and Susanna had been receiving months of professional training. I, on the other hand, had a young, green horse with gaps in the little training he had and wasn't exactly the most easy-going guy. Naturally, Susanna would have been schooling higher jumps than me at the moment; but did that really mean she was a better rider than me? Sure, she could jump 2'6 on a bomb-proof pony, but what about on a hyper horse? As for me, i'm pretty sure with a well-trained jumper I could probably school four-foot easy, when i'm sure even if I went into schooling four-foot right now, there would be riders schooling three-foot who are, undoubtedly, better riders than me.
My theory was proved just last Saturday when I went on a trail ride with a bunch of local girls and their parents. I decided to ride bareback. To me, riding bareback on trails is much more comfortable and gives me a better connection with my horse. Some of the girls were amazed with my decision and thought I was showing off, when in truth, I ride bareback on the trails at least once a week. While on the trail, one of the girls with a bigger ego than the others asked me how high I could jump. "I don't know." I said and got a bunch of confused faces in return. I explained as best as I could, "Well, I haven't schooled jumping for a while but i'm pretty sure with a decent horse I could jump pretty high."
So, with my newly realized theory; I haven't asked anybody how high they can jump. Instead, I watch them ride and then judge whether or not their a good rider. Not to claim that i'm the best rider on Earth, I still have much to learn, but I can still tell good riding from bad. Also, whenever someone ask me how high I can jump, I simply say "I don't know."





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