Over, Under, or Through


Bryan Nigro photo

The venerable George Morris has said it time and time again: there’s no option for a jump other than going over, under, or through. I have to agree with Sir George on this front (and oh so many others), not only on a riding level, but also a psychological one.

I attended two horse shows this summer, one on the world’s coolest ex-racehorse and another on a total veteran. Said ex-racehorse (who was insanely successful on the track, especially in a race that rhymes with Shmentucky Shmerby) kept his cool in the show ring far better than I did. While most people think of off-the-track Thoroughbreds as speed demons, Ex, as we’ll call him, requires a strong leg backed up with spurs and a crop—and even then, he’s still a slowpoke.

The first day or two of the competition (my first of the year and first time at a show requiring braids in almost a decade), I was all about the under. My riding wasn’t confident—even though Ex was a total saint and had never stepped a foot wrong in the few months leading up to the show, I was buried under the metaphorical fence.

With Uncle George in mind, I made the conscious decision to buck up and have fun, no matter the result. This led me to enter a class far beyond my reach—a hunter classic that required a shadbelly (or in my case, required me to run around the barns begging to borrow someone’s shadbelly). While we didn’t place in the class, I smiled every single step of the way—and, most importantly, crawled out from under the fence.

By the time I showed the seasoned veteran a month later, I felt like an old pro. We soared over jump after jump, and my nerves dissipated bit by bit each day. Though luckily we didn’t have to enter the “through” stage, I had finally emerged from the land of under and into the world of over—over the jumps and over my fears (for now). I think I’ll stay there. 

Categories: The Anxious Amateur