Riding in the rain . . . with glasses

Riding on the trails behind Walden Pond
The hunt that was canceled was on the trails behind Walden Pond, in an area called Fairhaven Bay. The footing is always really good there, even in the rain!

To say that I’m near sighted is an understatement. My vision is so bad that I always travel with at least one spare pair of glasses. I certainly couldn’t drive without them, and riding without them is challenging. Contact lenses? My eyes gave up on those years ago!

This has been a hard spring for people who wear glasses because it has been raining like crazy. And all of you who wear glasses know how hard it is to see out of them when they are covered with rain drops or steaming up. But, maybe there’s a silver lining to not being able to see.

A couple of weeks ago, after a hunt was canceled due to rain, I decided to meet some hunt friends and ride the territory (which happened to be the very picturesque trail system near Walden Pond). It wasn’t raining that hard until I pulled into the lot. Since many of the trails are in the woods, I thought, how wet could I get? After all, if we were hunting in Ireland, this small amount of rain would hardly count.

The answer was, soaked to the skin. After about 15 minutes I realized I couldn’t see a thing. It was one of those rare times when I could see better without my glasses. So I took them off and stowed them in my saddle bag. I reminded myself that Freedom can, presumably, see just fine and he was the one that had to pay attention to the terrain.

Riding without glasses is a bit like riding through an Impressionist painting: it’s all swirls of shapes and colors, soft with no hard edges. That was fine until we started jumping.

Jumping without being able to really see where you’re going is different. I’m used to driving. I like to see my spot coming into a fence. It makes me feel more confident. The only spot I was seeing WAS the fence. I certainly wasn’t able to make any adjustments coming into it.

Which isn’t such a bad thing. Since I couldn’t see the fence well enough to adjust my horse (or pick at him), I had to ride the canter. After all, the trick to getting a good spot is to pick up a good canter and not worry about the spot. I kept reminding myself that Freedom was the one jumping and he was locking onto the fences without my help. The more I trusted him, the better he went.

Maybe I should take my glasses off more often.

However, here’s something to consider for the future.

2 thoughts on “Riding in the rain . . . with glasses

  1. It was such a revelation to me when I finally felt how keeping a steady tempo resulted in getting better distances… and then I finally understood what people meant about the fence holding the horse off.

  2. Interesting observations. I don’t have depth perception, so have never been able to see spots! When I took jumping lessons (at 10, I think) I quickly learned that my horse’s back snapping wasn’t good for me, so started jumping my mom’s horse who had never jumped, but took to it as if he had been born to it. Within 6 months we were easily jumping a 4′ coop. Without me ever knowing how to see a spot, but knowing how to keep a rhythm and steady canter. I always attributed it to his being a natural and easy to jump! My next horse was a super athletic QH who easily jumped wide oxers which were more than 4′ high with my trainer, and on whom I jumped 4′ verticals with no problem. Again, keeping a steady pace and not worrying so much. I’ve jumped somewhere around 30 horses thanks to showing IHSA and only had problems with my first horse and two other horses – one was a back snapper who bucked on landing and dumped me, and another was a packer who thought I wasn’t balanced enough and it was safer to stop. (I am 99% convinced I would have been fine… but by going over the jump without him, I popped my back which had been giving me problems back into place, so I was glad he stopped!) I’ve always attributed it to easy horses, good draws at shows, etc. But I wonder if inability to see spots actually helped me?

    I have always found jumping scary because I couldn’t see spots so had to trust the horse to know where to go. If my trainer told me to jump it I had enough faith to know I could, easily, though, so I would. It’s only with my current horse (an ex-eventer who easily has Advanced scope) that I had jumped on my own for fun and really enjoyed it since my very first horse and jumping logs on the trails. In his case, I know my horse can jump everything easily, and if I ask him to canter in nicely he will get his butt under himself and take the right spot, adjusting his stride as much as he needs, vs. taking the long spot. My trainer jumps him higher than I do, and she likes longer spots than he does – and when she gets them too long, he gives her bucking sprees to let her know what he thinks of that!

Leave a Reply