Lessons (hard learned)

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So, Oats had Monday off while I stewed.

Actually, I had a spectacularly grouchy day and cranked at everyone all day, and then went to the beach in the evening with my Kobo for some Zen time…and of course my Kobo was dead. Excellent.

Tuesday, I had another group lesson with Karen Brain. I almost didn’t want to…I felt stupid, frustrated, embarrassed. Falling off AGAIN at yet ANOTHER horse show? WTF? How do I tell people- who think I am a fairly decent rider- that no, I really do know what I’m doing, and at home, I am actually pretty good? 

(my coworkers think all I do is fall off my horse, by now!)

But, I sucked it up and went. It was hot, we rode in the indoor. I went in complaining. I told Karen what happened, how weird I felt, and how I knew Oats was taking advantage of me being out of it. And when I got angry, and kicked his butt, how great he responded.

And her insight was VERY helpful. I felt kind of emotional even! 

She said that my symptoms of dealing with horse show anxiety (even though I want to be there) is ‘checking out’ and the time I spent ‘checked out’ Oats responded negatively (stopping at jumps, slacking off my leg). When I was forced to ‘check in’ when I was FED UP enough, bingo! Got the results I wanted/needed.

She said I probably get in the habit of checking out with Oats because it is SO EASY to do. He lulls me along at a gentle pace, nothing too forward, doesn’t really misbehave…Until I ask for something. I don’t have enough ‘him’ to check myself in.

That is also why I find her lessons so challenging- I am made to be ‘checked in’ for a solid hour. 

Oats responds very positively to Karen.

So, she said we need to work on staying checked-in throughout a ride- building on smaller ‘stressors’ to gradually bigger ones, like a horse show.

And I need to work on staying present- bending, more leg, leg to the fence. It’s easy when a trainer is yelling at you, but in a show ring? You can yell at yourself- Go legs! Sit up! Sit Deeper! 

Honestly, none of this is new to me. The sliding, slacking ‘out of it’ feeling I have always had…I just need to hear it again, and again, and again. From multiple sources. Oats is not a horse I can ride ‘checked out’ anymore.

And have a horse show that I royally embarrass myself at. That is a good incentive too.

So, Karen set up a exercise of ‘leg leg leg!’ short gallops, checking-in at the canter, bend left/right, then cruise of a 1ft jump, then gallop, then circle, bend-counter bend-gallop…It was exhausting but good.

She said that I may not want to hear it, but the horse show was a good lesson (but a hard one) to learn. 

(Photo credit to the talented Christi Kay)

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