Jumping Tommy

On Tuesday I had my much anticipated jump lesson on Tommy. I was excited and nervous but thought “I rode so many different horses in Ireland, I’m fine with jumping new horses now!”

We had a fine warm up at the trot and then I cantered him around the arena and got up in jumping position.

Immediately Sarah said “That’s his xc canter, you need to bring him way back. Make him bend, get him to engage his hind end.”

Wait, what? This was the most wonderful canter I’ve ever ridden. And it didn’t feel fast. How could this be wrong?


Let me ride this uphill canter all day long

Well, unlike Georgie and those lovely Irish horses I rode, Tommy eats up the ground without feeling like he’s moving much. Some of you are lucky enough to know what I am talking about. I can’t remember ever feeling this before, maybe when I was a kid and didn’t know to appreciate it.

So, I brought him back, asked for bend, and got a much more appropriate canter for the stadium arena.


Tommy was as different a ride as I have ever had.

All my old habits had to be thrown out the window. Immediately. No sitting two strides out before the jump. No driving with my seat. Continue to follow with my elbows. Don’t land and ask him to go on. Be quiet.

Jesus Christ, it was a disaster.

Tommy was SUCH a good sport. He will jump anything, and these 3′ jumps were incredibly easy for him, even when I rode him so far to the base that he had to crawl over them. In order to keep my elbows moving and my seat quiet I tried singing, counting and talking nonsense out loud so I would stay relaxed. I repeatedly said “follow follow follow” up to the jump to keep my elbows moving, but two strides out I clamped, stopped moving and Tommy was like “Thanks.”


After a few tries it got better. But I still don’t think Tommy liked me up there all that much. He never did anything wrong, or bad, but in a couple of the videos, he just looks really unhappy. I am honestly Tommy’s first bad rider, since he is either ridden by Sarah or his owner. And it’s been that way for YEARS.

Poor Tommy.

But here’s the thing. Tommy is what I need to start riding more. I love Georgie, and will always have a horse that can handle a driving seat, but if I want to be a better rider, I need to ride these more sensitive horses and be done with some of my habits. I really really enjoyed riding Tommy, and hope I can jump him again, because that was definitely an aha moment.

I know a lot of you have what would be called “sensitive” horses. Any tips for jumping? Other than: quiet body, following elbows and stop driving with your seat? Egads that’s a lot to work on!


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7 thoughts on “Jumping Tommy

  1. Emma says:

    He sounds like a really cool dude – and like a great option for staying in the saddle while Georgie recovers!! I’m sure you’ll figure out how he likes going pretty quickly. Isabel was always a fairly sensitive girl but I’m not sure I’ve got any great insights into that realm tho lol. For her the struggle was keeping her in front of the leg without getting fast. Her canter wasn’t the best tho so it’s maybe not super relevant for this guy haha – his canter sounds dreamy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. shelbyrallen says:

    I second Emma’s comment! He does seem like a really cool horse. It’s so interesting to see how different kinds of horses can reveal some weaker spots in our riding. Justin is a sensitive guy, but I personally need to sit before the fences to see my distance, so one of the biggest struggles was finding my seat without driving him forward. My only helpful advice is to trial and error. I had to try out lots of different things to get it right. You look great tho in these pics!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think the best thing that I’ve learned from my sensitive (yet also behind the leg) horse is the many seats I needed to be able to use and transition easily between to get good results. I both had to become comfortable with and develop the muscle memory to use all of those seats, but figure out when each seat was the most appropriate one for our purposes. Still a work in progress, but we are getting there!


  4. Exaggeration is your friend! When I first started riding a hotter, more sensitive mare I needed to get up off her back, follow through my elbows and keep up with her over the fence. It really helped me to start by being totally ridiculous with these movements — like almost standing straight up in my irons, and pumping my elbows. After doing that to “warm-up” I was able to find a more happy medium between what I was used to and what I needed to do.

    Maybe that will work for you, or maybe not. Worth a shot tho!


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