I couldn't agree more!
Over the past few weeks, Zeus and I have been very slowly starting over jumps for the year (if you remember, last year we were doing crossrails and very small verticals). Part of his future career as an event horse involves him having enough courage and trust in me to pretty much jump over anything I put in front of him, no matter how weird or scary it looks.
And some event courses are pretty scary, especially as you advance up the levels. But, if you go slowly and grow your horse's confidence, well....they learn that they can pretty much do anything.
Zeus is well on his way.
We went back to our town park, which has a great ring and lovely mowed riding/ hiking trails, just for citizens of our town. I *love* that. When I was walking through there a few weeks ago (before bringing Zeus for the first time), I noticed with an insane amount of delight that there are, in fact, some cross country jumps through these trails! Nothing much - some telephone poles, some barrels, a very scary jump made with tires and some coops, but it's enough to practice and give a safe, fun introduction to cross country to a young horse like him.
In addition, our park boasts a gorgeous riding ring, built in 1965. There are a few jumps in there too, though I have a feeling they were also built in 1965. Still, they're usable and I'll take whatever I can get!
Here we are in the riding ring, just jumping around with two jumps I put together a few days before. Part of Zeus' training also involves his ability to focus when he's in a new place and also the only horse in the area. The first time we brought him, well, he wasn't happy to be a solo act. But now, he's settling in and understanding that all the grass you see behind us....well, he's the only one who gets to eat it. Now when we go to leave, he looks at us as if to say, "What? And leave alllll this grass behind?!"
Then I decided to just stroll around up through the trails, and hop over the mini jump I'd found. I was delighted that Zeus took it upon himself to accelerate and leap over it, really enjoying himself!
Since that went so well, I decided to challenge him a bit further and handle a higher, more solid jump. Again, he almost looked at it with glee and just took me right to the jump, placing himself perfectly and nearly doing his own victory lap afterward!
Zeus decided he wasn't done yet.
A quite scary looking tire jump loomed ahead of us, and the last time I walked him past it, he gave it a wide berth, as if the tires wanted to eat him. This time, he looked at it like, "Woohoo, what are we waiting for?!" I said, "Ooook!"
Zeus can fly.