A daughter with a pony wants to jump. Inevitable. Only she wants her mother with her cob to jump too. She has forensically examined every square metre of land we have. She has designed several courses.
And so, one Sunday afternoon, I find myself hauling jumps around part of our paddock. I worry about the ground, the slope, the trees, the rocks and generally about the very notion of leaving this solid earth with said cob.
I have no choice. Ground is chosen, jumps are planned. I suggest that pony and cob should be let in first to chew some of that grass or else they will have no interest in jumps, only in grass.
We chill on this lovely autumnal afternoon. I am relaxing, enjoying that feeling of nothing to do, when a teenage daughter’s impatient vibe finally penetrates. We go out.
Ben and Cloud watch as we assemble three jumps. They willingly come to us to be tacked up. I suggest we warm up first, with transitions and some suppling work. Ben wants none of this. I feel surprised. Why is he stalling? Then I realise he is looking at the jumps and, in true Ben style, wants to get on with things. I love Ben, he is so no-nonsense, get-on-with-it-woman, in his approach. Why focus on riding transitions and circles in a paddock where jumps have been assembled? You want us to jump? Just get on with it!
So I do.
I turn him towards the first jump and he takes charge. Up that slope, under the trees, he canters, I get disgracefully left behind and we are over that jump. Daughter is laughing. Pride dented, I think I can do this – indeed, in earlier years I have jumped a lot. Anyone who has learnt to ride in Ireland has done that. I am older now; two children later, I am not quite so gung-ho. In fact, I avoid jumping if I possibly can. And I would not be doing this if it were not for daughter.
We go again, and again, and again. We flow. I love it! I relax, give Ben a break. Put your head down, eat some grass. He won’t. He stands, waiting, four square, head up, ready for more. I barely touch him and we are off again. It – he – is a revelation. What have we been missing in the last three years?