Got this book back from my in-laws and it made me laugh. Oh Tim Kreider, you are the best!
So do we learn?
Hard to say. I emailed my equine wellness counselor in a big hissy fit last week. Coming off a really bad 7 days, a record-breaking bout of falling off, and another trainwreck of a jump lesson, I was spiraling and it was BAD BAD BAD.
I took some time off from riding Oats (rode Fri and he was good! We worked on some dressage stuff, it was a very intense and thorough ride, but I felt like we got a lot of really solid work done), Sat-Sun I went camping and Oats went on a trail ride with my friends without me, haha.
Monday I arranged the session. I was building already when we met, in a big huff, upset and convinced I was flying backwards with Oats. I could barely describe the problem without tears. It was rough.
She laughed and assured me that this is a stage, and like any stage, coming to me at a point in time when I can handle it. I just need to work through it. I described my bad jumping efforts and she said a year ago, Oats made all the decisions. Now, you’re making a lot more of the decisions- you no longer have to convince him. Except, when you make the decisions for him, you can’t abandon him when you are unsure. It’s like jumping out of the car on the highway, and you leave the car suddenly driving itself.
So, there is still a fear/panic element when I approach a jump and I feel ‘blank’ about where the takeoff is. I’m like, what do I do? My legs come off, my mind ‘goes somewhere’ and boom! Oats slams on the brakes.
He needs me to ‘be there’ the whole way, not just when I’m 100% confident about the takeoff spot.
You get this through focus, and let me tell you: that laser-like intensity is EXHAUSTING. We worked on free-longing Oats in the round pen, getting him to come in and go out just through my watching/observing and directing him with my body language and look. It worked, too! Oats responded really nicely.
This lack of focus and ‘me leaving my body’ was a big issue last year. I stopped showing because of it–I couldn’t make myself go in the ring without disassociating. So, obviously this is not a new issue for me, but it’s one that I can come back to and begin to manage appropriately.
So we worked on the round pen to build my focus (mine more so than Oats’) and then worked on an emotional freedom technique that made me laugh out loud. It works apparently, so I will start doing it once a day this week.
I then rode Oats outdoors and he was freaking out about the back corner (we have a bad history there, and it got cleaned up so GASP it looked different~) but you know what? It’s fine, we can manage. And we did. I eventually got him going around, and then we cantered over poles and then I got brave and jumped a jump! Whoop! He was great, super forward and interested the whole ride- a little spooky/jittery, but very forward.
So, yeah. Ups and downs. I am trying to keep calm and progress.