I mentioned to my trainer Sharon that I was available if she wanted to get Monty doing a bit of jumping. For those unaware, Monty is my 17h ex racer, who has been on full loan to Sharon since July last year. He is everybody’s favourite horse with the biggest character you could imagine. I bought him in roughly 2006 when he was still doing P2P, on the merit of his jumping ability. This horse has the most unbelievable scope! Last year I eventually came to the decision to put him out on full loan, as he is the kind of horse who thrives on a 1-1 relationship, and trying to juggle 3 horses was proving a struggle. At the time he was very green in his flatwork, as he had just not had the training, so when Sharon wanted to take him on, I knew that he would come on leaps and bounds with her expertise and consistent schooling.
Today was the first time I’d ridden him since, and boy what a difference! He felt fantastic, and was a credit to all the hours Sharon has put in since she’s had him. Sharon very much focuses on dressage and flatwork and wanted him to do some jumping; of course I was more than happy to oblige being the jumping fiend that I am! Monty set about the jumping in his usual exuberant style; instead of trotting over the trot poles we would instead jump them (all four of them at the same time!), and instead of take 1 long jumping stride between fences he would bounce them – why waste energy taking another stride! He was fabulous, and just made the fences feel small. The gridwork is great to get him thinking, and we ended up with 2 high crosses, and an upright of about 3’9” on the end; in true Monty style he made light work of it.
This horse is so honest and has the biggest heart; he never feels as though he is going to stop, and he would jump any fence height you pointed him at. I think he’d give Badminton a good crack given the chance! The downside is, due to his unique style, the photo’s and videos don’t ever tend to show the rider in the best light; we’re mostly assuming hunting position! Getting left behind and having to slip your reins is a common occurrence when your horse sees his stride from 6ft off, and in the past he's unseated more than one person who wasn't expecting it.
It gave me such a thrill to ride him and jump him again. His canter was just unrecognisable; he was previously very long and unbalanced in his pace, but now he has the muscle and technique to carry himself, so you get all the power underneath you but with the collection and self carriage to go along with it. I can’t say I’ve ever quite sat on a canter like that before! He felt fabulous and he behaved impeccably too; when you consider he’s not jumped for so long he could have been over excited but he kept his cool and just got on with it. He was always been and always will be razor sharp, so you just can’t afford to go to sleep for a second! I love that about him, but it was also nice to see that he could contain it too.
Anyway, enough about how lovely he is or I'm in danger of writing an essay instead of a blog. I've included some pictures from over the years so you can judge for yourself...you will see what I mean about his jumping style!