Crazy Stunts with Olop - Jumping Backwards - Part 4
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   29th Jun 2012   •   11,332 views   •   14 comments
Horse Jumping Backwards

When I first started this scheme, I set two goals for myself: Jump a single jump at 1,20m backwards, and complete a low course backwards. I also considered trying a small course at a local practise show if I could find a venue to allow it.

My next challenge to tackle was a low, simple course which I set up at home. The jumps were mostly between 70cm and 80cm: Consisting of two uprights, an oxer, and a further two uprights on a related line. On my first attempt, I blew the turn into the third jump and ended up skipping it out. On my next attempt, I made it over all of the first three, but lost my stirrup afterwards, and had to quickly grab it back before turning Olop for a rather untidy approach into the related distance. Still, we made it over all the jumps that time! Our third round was much smoother, but I missed the second element of the related distance. As it turns out, it is very difficult to keep a horse straight between two jumps while facing backwards...

I practised the related line on its own a few times after that, and managed to get it right most of the time. Overall, I think it was pretty successful. But sadly, that saw the end of my backwards riding for a while, since I had to start working seriously, with my competition horses coming back into work. When, after quite a break, I finally found time to ride Olop again, it was time to tackle my next goal.

I started by popping her around a mini-course of three 90cm jumps to remind myself of how to jump backwards; then I consulted my opponent: A triple bar that started at about 1m, but which I vowed would grow to 1,20m that very day. Easily clear at 1m, at 1,10m... Then we tried the 1,20m – and as I had originally anticipated, Olop skipped out to the side. But, typical of Olop, she’ll never just canter straight past. She locks onto the jump, the swerves violently at the last minute. Somehow, I stayed on – but I wasn’t willing to try that again in a hurry – so I turned forwards. I presented her to the jump confidently, took her over it a few times with a firm contact – then tied my reins, and left her to figure it out herself. Once she seemed comfortable, I turned backwards again. The first time she misjudged her take-off slightly, and clipped down the pole – so I reassured her, and turned forwards to take her over it a couple more times as a confidence boost. She was still feeling happy, so I turned backwards once more to give it one last try.

This time, it was my error.
Worried that she might run out, I tensed, bracing myself for the swerve. But honest creature that she is, Olop jumped it anyway. Unfortunately, in compensating for my hesitance, she took a leap from a little far off, and I got slightly left behind. It was not a tidy jump, but we cleared it somehow, and landed safe and happy on the other side. With the help of my loyal, game little horse – I managed to accomplish my goal: 1,20m (4ft) backwards!

It was a long and tedious process, involving lots of hard work and risks, but in the end it paid off. I don’t care if it’s a useless skill to have: I can jump backwards now. And despite what anyone may say, I’m pretty proud of that fact! But don’t go away – we’ve not reached the end yet!

Just a few days ago, I faced another challenge: Jumping Olop backwards for the first time away from home. I gave a friend of mine a lesson in an arena up the road, where they have a proper jumping course, and at the end I stole Olop for a little round of my own. She was quite hyper being away from home – tugging, prancing and spinning around in typical Thoroughbred mare fashion – and I almost decided not to risk it... But the lure of those jumps was too great, so I turned the little horse loose, and she flew like a bat out of hell!

I put together a course of about 4 jumps, and she darted at full speed from one to the next. All I could do was point and turn – she chose the speed, and she chose how tight the turns would be. Despite her energetic antics, it went surprisingly well. We even popped down a line of three bounces and a single stride – which was quite difficult to sit, but also a load of fun.

Despite the risks, that must have been one of my best rides on Olop. She was in such a great mood, and she just flew around – really loving every minute of it. I have to admit – some of the jumps we did, I hadn’t even presented to! Olop would have made up her own course, bless her, she was having so much fun. We ended up with a few spectators that time, that they seemed to group themselves conveniently on either end of the arena – some scornful, saying that it was ‘an accident waiting to happen’; the others greatly impressed, and having a blast watching my ‘stunt riding’.

Honestly, I agree with both. This whole thing was a bad idea from the start, and certainly dangerous – but you know what? I don’t regret a minute of it. I had fun, I learned a lot, and it strengthened my bond with my beloved Polo-horse all over again.

That little mare will always have my back. Call me crazy, but I trust that horse with my life. Here’s to an amazing creature, for all the times she helped me out, for every time she kept me on when she could have let me fall, for never betraying my trust, and most of all: for taking on an unorthodox challenge, and pouring her heart into it, where any other horse would so likely have just refused.

Thank you, Polo, for keeping me safe yet again.

Horse Jumping Backwards

Horse Jumping Backwards

Horse Jumping Backwards
Starlight Farm  
1.20m is 3'9" )
but hey, you did it backwards. it might as well be 4ft :) you are the only person I know crazy enough and with good enough horses and skills to pull this off xD it would great if you could find a show to allow this!
  Jun 29, 2012  •  9,993 views
No Walkin Farms9  
Love the video. Especially the song choice. ) Great series of articles. I have loved reading each of them.
  Jun 29, 2012  •  9,915 views
Faith forever  
I LOVED these articles! You did it! You are a fabulous rider! And one day I hope to be able to rdide like you! You are truly amazing polo! Oh and Olop is amazing to!
  Jun 29, 2012  •  9,905 views
Summer Rain  
The danger is what makes it fun xD
  Jun 30, 2012  •  10,087 views
How does it feel jumping backwards?
  Jul 1, 2012  •  10,130 views
Olop is a boss! What a fab little horse, and you're an incredible rider (With some serious guts!). Please do keep us updated on your next insane stunt :D
  Jul 2, 2012  •  9,914 views
Let It Ride  
You have an amazing horse....
  Jul 2, 2012  •  9,904 views
Double Spur Ranch  
that's awesome!
  Jul 2, 2012  •  9,899 views
way cool!!!!
  Jul 3, 2012  •  9,888 views
Sapphire Flames  
wow...that is so amazing! :). reading this series was very interesting for me. I love how committed you are! :D

congratulations, and great job! The video, article and pics are amazing. :)
  Jul 3, 2012  •  9,887 views
Amazing. You two have quite the connection =)
  Jul 4, 2012  •  9,901 views
You are a fabulous rider, I bet we will be seeing you as a stunt rider some day!
  Jul 15, 2012  •  10,004 views
Foxchase Farm  
This is crazy! I love it!
  Jul 28, 2012  •  9,925 views
Solana Sonrisa  
Maybe you should buy some wing mirrors to put on the back of the saddle so you can see what's in front of you :P
  Aug 13, 2012  •  10,082 views
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