Jasmine Browning talks about her journey to 1.20 on her horse, Grayson.
After a little over two years of lesson horses and leasing for a couple months at a time, my mom and I decided it was time to buy a horse. We started looking online and reached out to someone about a young horse we found on her website. Instead of the horse we inquired about, she said that Grazioso would be a better fit for me. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure if she was serious or just really wanted to get rid of him at the time, but we decided to try him anyway. We committed to a two-week trial and by the third ride he bucked me off. Then a week later he spun me off again. Nonetheless, I really liked him, so we bought him.
Originally, we planned on him being my Short Stirrup to 2.9 Hunter, because that’s what we were told he could do. Grayson has always been very difficult and opinionated, especially when it comes to being round and listening to my leg, and afraid of literally everything. He was the first horse I ever did an A-rated show on, and for the first two years in Hunter Equitation we did really good, winning most of the classes we entered. But then I found the jumper world. By my third year of showing, me being the overly confident person I am, I decided that I wanted things to move faster than 3 inches a year, so I convinced my trainer at the time to let me go into the 3ft… and “maybe do some jumpers.” The first show of the year was Bend City Opener, and Grayson wasn’t a fan of the jumper ring. So after one day of him saying no to that arena, we were sent to the Equitation, where we had proven ourselves before. After two days of the 3ft, I decided I wanted to try again for the jumper arena, so I did, and this time Grayson said yes. We did the .90s for the rest of the week, and it was then that I decided that jumpers were what both Grayson and I enjoyed the most. It was less pressure than the Equitation ring and he got to act like a little motorcycle. By the next show I was confident of that height, so I pushed for the 1.00m, and that’s what I did for the rest of the year, and we ended up getting Champion at Thunderbird! Afterward, I was told that Grayson wouldn’t jump more than 1.10m, but I didn’t want to believe that because I always felt he could do more.
In September of last year, I moved barns. I wanted to have more one-on-one focus on my horse and me. I was also tired of all the drama and competitiveness that came with a big barn. All winter we worked on conditioning to improve my riding, I learned how to ride my horse the way he wanted to be ridden. Our original plan for the year was to show in 1.10m and qualify for Jumper Finals, and possibly do some 1.15m – 1.20m classes. By the end of winter we were ready for an intense and exciting show year, but the world went into quarantine. So, we got another 4 months of building muscle and jumping up. We watched show after show get cancelled, until the opportunity to go to Sonoma. By now 1.10m felt easy, so we planned on trying 1.20 at Sonoma since my trainer felt we were ready and in my mind I wanted September 2020 things to move just a little faster. The week before the show we had a clinic that didn’t go so well for us in the jumping portion. It was the first time I had ever struggled through a combination, it was also the first time I had jumped solid 1.20 jumps. Going into Sonoma, my confidence was wavering for the first time ever, but a year at 1.10m was no longer on my agenda.
The first day at the show we did 1.10m, and as expected Grayson was afraid of everything, and made the ride difficult, the problems and fears I had from the clinic carried over and Grayson could feel it. For the first day of 1.20m I wasn’t only stressed about the height of the jumps, I was stressed because if Grayson could do this height, it meant it was time to start looking for a new horse, and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the horse that had taught me so much. He jumped everything easy with scope, it wasn’t pretty but we made it through the course, except we weren’t working together like we usually do. Instead I was over managing and didn’t have any faith in my horse like I usually did, and he didn’t have confidence in his own jump. The next day went just about the same. I was frustrated that it wasn’t easy for us like we are used to. Grayson got Saturday off, and I rode one of the barn sale horse Nico in the 1.10m, and had a quick and fun ride, with no stress other than hanging onto with his massive jump. At that point in the week I really needed to rebuild my confidence. On Sunday I did the 1.10m on Nico again in the morning, and got right on my horse for the 1.20m after walking the course, leaving very little time for overthinking and stressing. I hadn’t realized how off my horse felt all week, until I felt him act like himself again.
I went into the arena that day working with instead of against Grayson as I usually do. I rode him the way I always had. He jumped quickly and confidently, and for the first time that week, I made it to the jump off. At that point winning wasn’t even in my mind, just having fun with what we are doing, and where we are. So I rode the jump off like any other ride I’ve done, I trusted him to pick up his feet and he trusted me to get him to the jumps. Riding my horse in a jump off is like riding a motorcycle, it doesn’t even feel fast, but then we end up beating the top time by quite a bit. Grayson is truly the horse of a lifetime for me.