I would first like to start this post with a simple explanation of me. I am an amateur. I don’t show often, and I am pretty much learning how to re-ride after being on my own for a few years. Before that, I was a slave to the barn life. I rode whatever I could, whenever I could, and I loved to catch ride. I moved away from the hunters and equitation in favor of the jumpers after purchasing a step-up horse. My coach at the time told me something very important when I stepped into the jumper ring, and I still see it true today. “It’s not how fast you go, it’s the path you take.”
Now, I know what you guys are thinking. “Obviously you never watch the jumpers. Beezie, McLain, Charlie Jayne, Will Simpson, etc. They all go fast. You are against the clock you know!”
Here is where I stand on those comments. There is a time and purpose for going fast, and I think these BNR’s know that time and purpose. If you watch a well calculated first round at a larger show, the riders are trying to within time and clear. They aren’t running the legs off their horses. What is the point of running around the first course, getting refusals and knocking rails, if the goal is to get into the JO. The jumper ring isn’t Talladega!
I think riders and trainers should go back to methodical thinking. Think about your path and the best way to get there. Slow down a hair and take that inside turn. From my point of view, the jumpers should represent a horse and person that are methodical and well timed. I don’t like seeing young riders and inexperienced horses scared at shows because they fell off or refused out of their class, all because they were galloping around trying to be fast. Reckless riding isn’t what the jumpers represent. We can’t let go of our horsemanship in the name of a 25 cent blue ribbon. If your horse isn’t ready to march around the jumpers and you don’t feel comfortable doing winding courses, find a path that works for you, even if it’s more hunter than jumper. You may not ribbon in the top 10, but you will become a better rider and horseman for it. Let’s all remember why we do this sport in the first place.
In conclusion, I would like to dub Will Simpson the jump-off master. Now get out there and go riding.