The musings of a jumper in the hunter derby ring.
My friend Brenda has the most amazing mare. Her name is Confidence, and never was a horse more deserving of the name. When you sit on her, you feel like you can do anything. She is brave. She is bold. She is light and responsive. She is scopey. She has an elevated, ground-covering canter and jumps in wonderful form. You could build a jump out of plastic bags and then light it on fire, and it wouldn’t faze her.
Brenda has been showing her in the modified junior/amateur jumpers (or, “MoJams,” as I learned it was called), where the mare handily and effortlessly glides around like an enchanted forest creature with invisible wings. She is a thing of beauty to behold and more fun to ride than should be legal. We call her “The Mare Extraordinaire.”
At least once per show, somebody comments that Confidence would also make a wonderful derby horse. So, my hunter-loving soul soared when Brenda finally decided to “make the leap,” literally and figuratively, and try the mare in the international hunter derby ring.
Confidence is game for anything, but as a horse who had been ridden strictly in the jumper ring, I can only imagine what she was thinking during Introduction To Hunters 101, and what the unspoken conversation between horse and rider, while on the course, might have been.
In my mind, it went something like this.
Confidence: Why you make my mane and tail silly?
Brenda: They’re braids.
Confidence: Braids for sissies!
Brenda: No, braids are for hunters.
C: Then hunters sissies!
B: No, hunters aren’t sissies; they’re just different. Focus on the course.
C: Why we start going? No buzzer yet!
B: There isn’t a buzzer.
All jumper class have buzzer!
Yes, but hunter classes don’t have a buzzer.
Hunters not jump fences then?
Yes, hunters jump fences.
We jump fences! We go fast now!
No, not fast. Just a nice canter.
Where are stripey poles?
Hunter fences don’t have stripes. They have flowers.
Flowers for sissies! We jump sissy, flower fences fast now?
No, just stay as you are. Nice and easy.
Where are numbers on jumps?
Hunter classes don’t have numbers on the jumps.
How you know where to go?
I know where to go.
You get lost with numbers on jumps. How you not get lost with no numbers on jumps?
Don’t worry, I know the course.
Now we go fast?
No, we go slow.
We need fast time! We go fast now!
This class isn’t timed.
All classes timed! Now we need go fast!
No, just canter.
I do boingy, bouncy, springy, sproingy canter! All feet off ground!
All feet on the ground, please.
We always do boingy, bouncy, springy, sproingy canter!
Not today. Just a regular canter.
Ok, I do sissy canter.
Just keep that canter and pay attention to the jumps.
These jumps little! Little jumps no fun. I make them fun!
Please don’t make them fun.
Watch me jump way high over top of little fences!
No, just jump them like we practiced.
And now we go fast?
No, now we leave the ring.
Why we leave ring?
We done. Er, we’re done.
No, no jump-off.
Why no jump-off? We have rail?
No, we didn’t have a rail.
We have time faults? We not go fast enough with sissy canter?
No, no faults of any kind. You were a good girl.
We go back in ring now?
Jump-off! We go fast now!
No, it’s not a jump-off. It’s just the second round.
Speed round! We go fast.
No, it’s the handy round. It’s not fast; it’s just got more turns.
Watch me make tight, fast turns!
No, just easy turns.
Easy turns for sissies!
Nice and easy, please.
OK, trot now.
Why we trot? You lost?
No, I’m not lost.
You lie! You lost in arena of little, sissy jumps.
I’m not lost. Just trot, please.
OK, then I do prancey, wancey, fancy, dancey trot!
Just a working trot, please.
Prancey, wancey, fancy, dancey trot is better!
Regular trot, please.
Fine. I do sissy trot.
Now trot this jump.
Trotting jumps for sissies!
Just trot it, please.
Okay, I trot teeny, sissy, flower jump! Watch me go fast now!
No, just canter.
When we go fast?
We don’t go fast.
Just trust me.
Last time I trust you, you bury me to oxer.
I won’t bury you.
Then I trust you again, and we leave out stride in triple.
There aren’t any triples in this class.
All classes have triples!
Hunters only jump doubles.
If you leave out stride in double, I buck you off! Then I go fast without you!
I won’t leave out any strides. I promise.
Why we walk? We done?
No, we’re not done.
You forget where to go! You lost in sissy, flower jump course with no numbers!
I’m not lost. We’re supposed to walk here.
Okay, I do floopy, loopy, razzmatazzie walk!
Regular walk, please.
But everybody love floopy, loopy, razzmatzzie walk!
No floopy loopy! Normal walking.
I do sissy walk.
Okay, now you can canter again.
Now we go fast!
Just canter. One more fence.
Whoo hoo! Last fence! Go fast through timers now!
No, no timers. Just walk and exit the ring.
I trot sideways out of arena! Clear out riffraff at in-gate!
No, just forward and at the walk, please.
We go back to barn now?
No, we have to ride for ribbons.
How we get ribbon? We not go fast!
You don’t have to go fast to win.
You lie! All jumpers go fast to win!
This isn’t jumpers; it’s a hunter derby.
Derby! Like Kentucky Derby! They go fast!
No, no, this isn’t a race. Just walk in quietly.
I canter circle around ribbon man!
No, just stand, please.
I make photographer chase me!
Just be still and put your ears up.
I stand tall with fancy, flowy, blowy, showy ribbon! We go back to barn now?
Not yet, we have to do the victory gallop.
Gallop! We all go fast and do boingy, bouncey, springy, sproingy canter now!
Yes, apparently we do.
The above was embellished for comic effect. In reality, Confidence did everything asked of her in both rounds and only really asked “We go fast now?” a time or two (at least that was visible to me as an observer) and proudly wore her ninth-place ribbon during the victory gallop, the one time she sort of got to go fast.
As for my friend, Brenda, her summation was “I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever had.”
I told you so.
After years of trying to fit in with corporate America, Jody Lynne Werner decided to pursue her true passion as a career rather than a hobby. So now she’s an artist, graphic designer, illustrator, cartoonist, web designer, writer and humorist. You can find her work on her Misfit Designs Cafepress site. Jody is one of the winners of the Chronicle’s first writing competition. Her work also appears in print editions of The Chronicle of the Horse. Read all of Jody’s humor columns for coth.com here.