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I’ll Probably Never Jump Above 3-Foot And I’m Cool With That

I’ll Probably Never Jump Above 3-Foot And I’m Cool With That

Justine Griffin

I love horse showing. It helps me set goals and work toward them. And there is no reward as sweet as victory, especially when you know you put in all the hard work to truly earn it.

But there is this need in this sport to always be advancing to the next level. That’s great – it really is. I’m not sure where it comes from – maybe from peer pressure of riding friends chasing the same dreams or what we see on social media. But I’m at a point in my riding career where I’ve realized it’s also cool to put a hand up and say, “we’re good here.”

I’m not going to be a 5-star eventer. The cross-country jumps with the green numbers (prelim) scare the hell out of me. I’ll stick with the black-on-white ones, thank you. Novice all day, baby.

I don’t say that because I’m letting fear get in the way of achieving bigger goals. I say that as a 30-something, well-adjusted adult amateur, who has assessed her commitment to this hobby and the ability of my off-track Thoroughbred. Sure, he could probably jump around Training Level at 3’3″ or maybe even do the 3’6″ jumpers. But is that fair to my horse who is ridden three-to-four times a week by a non-professional human who works hard, but has other serious life commitments? We find 3-foot fences to be just as wild and exhilarating as the ones with three more inches on top.

And just because I’ve decided that 3-feet is an acceptable height for us doesn’t mean my drive to get better is drying up. I want to be the Queen of Novice, I want to win. That is a feat worth training hard for, in my opinion.

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I think I’m good with abandoning the irrational pressure I put on myself to top-out in lessons above the teenagers who have bigger ambitions than me. I remember those days – dreaming of when my trainer would put the oxer at an end of a grid up to 3’9″ and thinking I could do and ride anything. I think back on those naive feelings now, with a glass of wine in hand and laugh.

At the end of the day, I try to remind myself I compete because it’s fun. F-U-N. It brings me joy to take my horse to an event and to feel the wind in my face on cross-country, even if I come through the finish flags with the slowest time of the day. All that matters is that my horse and I are learning but still enjoying ourselves, whether we’re hopping over the tadpole logs or putting on our “game face” to tackle the 2’11” rolltop at the bottom of the hill. My goals are just that – my own.

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