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Rated: E · Non-fiction · Animal · #2222348
A memoir of my first time over the hurdles on a Steeplechase horse.

First Jump
WC 825
A memoir of my first time over the hurdles on a Steeplechase horse.

It was a beautiful summers day. We had been at the stables since five in the morning. Starting in the dark, feeding the horses breakfast and letting them run in their paddocks for an hour. Then we began training the young horses and easy gallops. As the day went on, we began getting the jumpers out to train. These were steeplechase horses that needed a school over the fences before the races. The boss came once a week to oversee the days training and check all the horses. It was really a thrill to show him the progress we made and the fact that we get to breeze horses and go fast makes for an exciting day. The jockeys also come in to get a feel of the new horse they will ride in the upcoming races.

As exercise riders, we usually have the job of riding the jumpers out to the schooling field and warming them up for the jockeys. Then we switch horses. The jockeys would school the fresh set of horses over the fences, as we rode the already schooled horses back to the stable. This is what I did that day, until the boss asked me to bring the horse I just brought out to see jump with the other two jockeys.

Normally the schooling session goes as follows; Riders bring their horse up to the first jump and stand, letting the horse look at it, while the boss spoke about how he would like the school to go. The riders would agree on the plan and ride back far enough to get a straight start to the jumps. The boss would then follow the group in his car as they ran at full speed over three of the full size race fences together.

So, when the boss asked me to let my horse come look at the jump I questioned when I was to switch horses. He said we were not switching, that I was schooling this horse. I felt a number of feelings at this time and there was no time for questioning. I was schooling this horse and that was that. As the jockeys turned to get a running start and the boss got into his car, I had no choice but to follow and do as I was told.

I didn’t know this horse very well and he seemed a bit difficult.. As I turned to follow the group he began to act up, fighting the contact I had on his mouth. At this point, he knew more than I did and I was about to have a lesson on race riding from this horse whether I wanted to or not.

When the other riders had gone far enough back and began to turn, my horse anticipated this, turned and leapt into the air. He jumped straight up while exploding toward the jumps. My body was flooded with adrenaline and my instincts took over. I dropped my hands, letting go any contact I had on his mouth and grabbed as much of the mane on his neck as I could. As we headed to the first jump, the other riders had caught up with me. Blasting off together, the three horses went over the first jump. It wasn’t the smoothest jump but all the horses landed running and that jump quickly became the past as the next one was coming up quickly. Running a bit stronger now, the horses flowed together and took this jump better. Once again, leaving that jump in the past and running on to the next. By now there was only one jump left in the line. I had begun to get the feel of horses jumping in stride and skimming over the top of the brush fence, so I went for it. We all took it together in stride and gradually let the horses gallop out. I did it, and it was one of the scariest, most exciting things I had ever done. I couldn’t wait to do it again.

As the boss drove up to ask us how it went, he spoke to me. “Well, what did you think of that, Sherry?” I had no words. My mind was a flurry of thoughts and my body still on an Adrenalin high. I loved it and I did it for about ten more years. I was at that barn early every day, and stayed all day, for a long time.

To this day, I will never forget the feeling I had when I went over the jumps for the first time. When I was faced with having no choice but to put my trust in a horse I didn’t know and leave my life up to fate. It turned out to be one of the best times of my life.

.....And a huge thank you to the horse, Sir Corbel, for teaching me and saving my life. You will never be forgotten.
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