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Just Jump It MAG
“Unfortunately, you were off course at the first jump,” they told me even before I’d brought Chester to a halt. Disbelieving, I looked back toward the judge’s booth. Off course? It took a few seconds for the words to sink in. Yes, I had in fact missed the first jump. Of all the classes I could have messed up, it was the Jackpot Jumpers. Money had been at stake, and it was an expensive class to enter. I felt horrible.
“Claire, honey, are you alright?” I hadn’t noticed my mom approaching.
“No, I’m not!” I snapped. “Mom, of all the courses I could have screwed up, it had to be the Jackpot! It was a stupid mistake!”
Chester began to prance. He hated standing around at shows. Annoyed, I raised my crop to give him a smack on the rump.
“Don’t take it out on him, Claire. He’s not doing anything wrong,” my mom warned. Gritting my teeth, I lowered my hand. “He knows that you’re frustrated.”
“I don’t care! He’s been doing this all day and I’m sick of it.”
My mom shot me a warning glance and I immediately fell quiet.
“Thank you. Now, is there another class that you could do?”
“Yeah, the Port Madison Jumpers, but it’s 2'9",” I replied.
Realizing that Chester was eying a nearby patch of grass, I slid off and led him over.
“Go sign up,” my mom said, taking the reins from my hands.
“Just do it.”
She was serious. I walked over to the office.
“Hey, Claire, what’s up?” the lady asked.
“I had an off course.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. That’s no fun! What class?”
“The Jackpot Jumpers,” I replied.
“Ouch. Well, what do you need?”
“I’m going to redeem myself with the Port Madison Jumpers.”
I filled out the entry form and ran over to the course board to find Class 14.
“You alright?” my friend Kaylee asked.
“Yeah, I’m just frustrated,” I replied.
“I went off course. How stupid!”
Kaylee smiled quietly.
“It’s alright. It’s just a little show and besides, if you never went off course, then we would be forced to hate you.”
I nodded, seeing her point.
“Up next, number 322, Chester, ridden by Claire Nitsche.”
I heard the barn moms whoop. I tried to run through the course in my head but my thoughts were interrupted by the starting whistle.
“Alright, buddy, let’s do this,” I whispered to Chester. His ears flicked forward and back, and he began to prance. He knew this was our time to shine. Clucking him to a canter, I realized that all eyes were on us.
Just ride it nice and easy. Twenty-nine seconds is a long time, I heard my trainer’s voice in my head.
I gave my release and Chester flew over the first fence. We made the turn and cantered toward the judge’s line. I smiled as I heard his lips smacking. Jump two was fine. I looked forward and got a good look at the next fence. My heart began to race. It looked way bigger than 2'9". It was an oxer, a big, hulking, solid oxer. Don’t run from fear, jump over it. It was a saying I used a lot, and now it seemed reassuring. Chester steadied out and began to raise his head excitedly.
“Atta boy,” I muttered. I knew the jump was probably scary to him, too, but he wasn’t going to stop. He had thrown his heart over the jump already and was willing to follow it.
I felt Chester plant his feet and prepare for take off. I was met by one of my favorite sensations: I was flying. Nothing in the world could stop me now. Instead of throwing my heart over the jump, I had thrown my dreams and my accomplishments. There wasn’t a thing in the world that would keep me from my goals. I felt like I was suspended above any roadblock that I might meet along the road to my future, and I had the support of my faithful steed to get me over it.
The landing was a little rougher than I expected, but Chester caught me. As we began to canter around the corner, I looked over my shoulder. Shoot! We were about to run right past fence four. Sitting deep, I half halted Chester and whipped him around. He skidded almost to a stop but was already turning. We were slow, almost too slow. I gritted my teeth and put my heels to his sides. I wasn’t going to give up on this fence, and neither was he. Chester hopped, collected himself, and planted his front feet to spring. I wasn’t worried that he would refuse; I knew he’d go over despite the odd angle. But there was still the chance of knocking the entire fence down. It was going to be close. Crouching over his neck, I knew the round was now up to Chester.
As we walked toward the gates, I bent down to pat Chester’s shoulder.
“Thank you, boy,” I muttered. He flapped his lip in response.
“Nice round, Claire,” I heard as we left the ring. I nodded my thanks and dropped my stirrups. My legs were shaking. Chester’s head was hanging low and I knew he was tired. We had both had a long day.
After taking him for a cooling walk, I dismounted and let him eat. He lipped my shirt and tried to scratch but I pushed him off gently.
“Alright, we have the results from class number 14, Port Madison Jumpers. The course had to be completed in 29 seconds. Here is the order: in first place, number 322, Chester, ridden by Claire Nitsche.”
Chester’s ears pricked up. It was all I could do to keep from screaming.
“Come here, you dirt bag!” I exclaimed as I threw my arms around Chester’s neck. He slimed me, but I didn’t care. He had pulled through for me, and that was all that mattered. We had proven ourselves as contenders. Most importantly, he had proved himself by carrying through when I was afraid. After all, when fear rears its ugly head, there is only one thing to do: just jump it.