I will never understand why people jump 3 and 4 year olds over anything other than ground poles, make them “find their feet” and push them to do more more more more more. If there’s anything my 19yo schoolmaster has taught me, it’s patience is a virtue. Trot sets, balance over ground poles, and basic figure 8 exercises are something even the best of the best of us can benefit from, at any age, and any level. Even those of us riding for over three decades with degrees and awards and miles and hours and years of rank horses under their belt, on a schoolmaster that’s been there, done that, won that, set the record, and changed disciplines, and been to nationals and been there, won that, done that again (without me in the irons – he’s teaching me from here!).
Learn patience, please. And if you want your baby to be jumping into his teens, how about teaching him balance and topline and self carriage long before you ask him to go over anything other than a raised cavaletti or x-rail so that he’s doing his body and brain the justice it deserves for a long lasting career?
It saddens me that to so many riders these days, it’s about showing off and results, and the partnership is a simple byproduct – great if you have it, not a requirement. For me, it’s why I have horses, all 8 of them, each with a different relationship. It’s why they follow me without leads or halters or bridles or reins even at shows, why they’re rarely tied even when we’re off property, and why we trust each other implicitly. I may not be showing 3′ in 3 months, but I promise you when I misjudge that 3′ stonewall in the hunt field on a rainy day going from dark of the woods into bright fields, with a 2′ muddy drop at a 45 degree angle and a 2 stride (if that) approach, my horse has my back. Does yours have your back?
/rant and now back to my wine.