How Low Can You Go?

Jump height and I have never been best friends. When I was younger, I always looked longingly at those 3’6″ jumps, but my fear (and, let’s be real, my lack of skill) always held me back. There were a few summers I showed at three feet, a height that many people consider standard, but college and work brought that to a steady halt.

So, how has that height anxiety changed as an amateur?

Well, I ride far less frequently than I did as a teen, and I no longer have my own horse, so I’ve got major limitations just at the starting point. Has my fear gone away? Do I still cower at the sight of a lofty vertical? Let’s recall a conversation this past weekend with my riding instructor. We’ll call her “Fearless Leader.”

Cue Anxious Amateur walking into the ring with Mr. Zen, eyeing the full course of jumps.

AA: We’re not jumping those, right?

FL: What? Those are tiny! He could walk over those.

AA: He could walk under those.

FL: They’re barely two feet!

AA: I beg to differ.

Enter, from stage left, My Savior (more commonly known as the barn manager).

MS: I have a measuring tape! Let’s see…

Cue Anxious Amateur staring lovingly at My Savior. Mr. Zen stares off into the distance, or possibly at a squirrel.

MS: Well…this one measures at about 2’9″. As does this one.

Cue maniacal laughing from Anxious Amateur, followed by finger pointing and “I-told-you-so’s.”

FL: (Laughing) Well, I’ll lower them a few holes for you.

AA: Thank you!

Cue humongous sigh of relief (human—horse couldn’t care less) followed by a tiny pang of…doubt.

Could I jump higher? Am I really that scared, or am I just anxious to keep growing? I’d need my own horse, and far more time to ride, but all of that is possible in the future. Our lesson turned out being great, and Mr. Zen was a gentleman around the course of baby jumps, but a part of me will always want to get to that next level.

In the meantime, I’m going to take some deep breaths, learn as much as I can at the level I am at, and try not to panic too much about what’s to come. I’ll get there eventually—inch by inch.

Categories: The Anxious Amateur