My work has allowed me to come into contact with some amazing (and not so amazing) people. Yes, undergrads and professional students primarily on up through varying staff and faculty people. This is about undergrads and especially student workers.
I'm always on the fence when I get amazing people in my lab to work for me. I am a rule abider - its why I still have a job. There is no way I'll sacrifice that. Having four horses has given me a reason to bend this slightly. When I had a 2 year old AQHA horse that I was retraining, he got to that dreaded "needs riding miles" stage before I could move on with him. I HATE that stage and find it horribly boring so I had a student friend go ride him when she could for her relaxation and I offered her a percentage of the sale when he sold. It was a great arrangement and we were both thrilled.
At this point in my life, the horses (save Arthur) could benefit from someone else riding them and so I've kept my ears open. A person came into my life recently that had tons of REAL riding experience. There is no shortage of "I'll give riding a try!" type of people around but I don't have that much spare time to train someone from ground zero. Come to me with walk, trot, canter and I can work with that. Before this time, I didn't have that. So it was a bit odd when someone came to me through a winding pathway that had extensive horse (jumping!) experience. It was in the hunter/jumper world but I was thankful. Erica came out for a trial on Piper (she's also shorter than me!) and they hit it off. I was thrilled.
After a few rides, we went out to the Ranch and decided to give it a ride. I was on Katy (I know, I know, but I needed miles of confidence building and well, she's easier for me to ride at my height). It all started out nicely and I only had to tack my own horse up! Yes! So awesome. The goal was to maybe find some logs to jump Piper over to see how she was to jump. I didn't have anything at my house for jump material so this seemed the most logical. Luckily Erica is super gutsy so we found a fallen tree that was a bit questionable and she pointed Piper at it. Piper being Piper sorted out the game and flew over it. Then the search was on for jumps!
I trotted and cantered along, taking my job of checking the take off and landing spots very seriously. After sorting out some pretty nice looking jumps and watching Piper rock them, I was beginning to think I should get in on the action with Katy. Remember, I'm in my old flat, slightly off center Stuebben from the 1970s. It doesn't seem like a good idea, but my leg is secure and well, I'd gone to Pine Hill and not died. I wouldn't die today. I was 80% sure of that.
A few goes through the woods and we came upon a clearing FULL of downed logs. It was go time. I found a nice log that was perfect in every way except... it had a gap between it and the ground. Would Katy be bothered by it? Would she pay attention and actually jump the thing? If she refused what would I be able to do? SO MANY FEELS. There was a nice tiny log next to it so we trotted that. No overjumping, nothing so I was like hmm. Maybe Erica will get bored and take the first log.
I got impatient and started a pre-flight checklist. Heels down? Eyes forward? Committed to the jump? so on and so forth. And I headed for it. The log was probably 2'6" off the ground - in my mind "tiny" from my past. For someone that's not jumped in a while, it was big really fast. I swallowed the panic and kept my legs on. Katy easily cleared it, I landed, took a breath, and smiled. OMG I CAN JUMP STILL AND SO CAN MY HORSE.
So then we proceeded to search the property for reasonable things to jump, water to go through (it ended up chest deep oops), and other eventy types of things while I yammered on about how epic going cross country is to a girl that had been in the hunter/jumper world exclusively.
Also my Stubben needs to be retired from my bum :(