Keep me honest

Had another jump lesson, and I was very pleased with how it went! Again, it was not perfect, but I felt good, confident and was really riding very forward. Oats was good as gold (a minor bulge issue and some lead/changing lead awkwardness around changing directions) but SUCH a little star!

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This rode well all night.

I am enjoying doing semi-private lessons right now, and the funny thing is that having another rider, and people watching, helps keep me honest. Focused. Riding instead of getting overfaced and backing off. It’s like I’ve reached a point in my own confidence that I need to have an audience to keep me there. Otherwise, I back off, big time. And I know right now that I don’t need to. I am going there! I am doing it! I am being challenged and meeting that challenge.

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It’s a bummer it’s so dark, darn light changing. BUT this is the first time we’ve jumped the coop as a oxer! So wide, even if it doesn’t look like it! 

I think my motto now is: Challenge me. Make me.

And we are so there! Yeah! Go Oaty pony. I’m so proud of him, bobbles, silliness and all. I have things I want to fix (elbows, the straightness problem going into the uphill line AGAIN, the difficulty in changing leads, stalling out to a chip…) But on the whole? I am enjoying what I am doing, and getting a lot out of my boy.

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This is a two-stride that I rode conservatively (read: chicken) for a three, until the last course when I was like, fuck it! I go in two! And we DID.

This week we celebrated 9 years together. Each year he gets better and better! I guess we all do? How I love this. I really appreciate, cherish and find joy in our rides. He’s my prince, my pony, my boy.

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I love this picture, because we almost match the jump! How cute is that? Plus it rode just perfectly. The best line on course. 

Whenever people are frustrated with their current horse, I just think to myself- yep been there, done that, sometimes am still there. It takes the time it takes. YEARS even (in my case). Being mad about how slow progress is doesn’t help, it never does. Your ego doesn’t trump reality.

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And the ‘out’ of the same lattice-line. It rode really nicely. 

I have had to learn some really bruising lessons about ego (life, running and horses) and I had to learn them the hard way. However, I think it’s helped shape what I do now.

Sadly, there is no footage of us finishing on the triple bar jump (first one I have gathered up the feeble shreds of my courage to jump with Oats!) because we were too close to the videographer and it is close up and dark. Ah, well. It was such a good ride that I forgot that the main reason I was excited about it was to jump the triple bar?! Ha.

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“There is no god any more divine than yourself”

I’m in another Walt Whitman mood again!

I had another jump lesson last night, and while it was by no means a ‘breakthrough’ or super amazing lesson, it was just good quality, and that’s good for me. Except my little bratty pony sucked back on my second round and we found out why…A poop emergency!! Gotta go!

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The course- the gymnastic is the one we worked on (obviously it was set MUCH lower for me!). Doesn’t it look beautiful?

ARGH! Oats!

We started with a gymnastic (SO not my favourite…) and I kind of flubbed it a few times, haha. But then we picked it up, and I got to work on my next-favourite thing, not sitting in the gymnastic and grinding my butt. Staying in two-point, off his back, is surprisingly difficult for me. Even more so in a gymnastic? Why, world, why?

Next we strung together a course, and I’m not saying ‘small course’ because we have the luxury in the outdoor right now of making those suckers LONG! 13 fences total, including the gymnastic (it was a canter-in gymnastic for me, trot-in for George).

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From a few weeks ago. This week, this turned into an oxer and I think the best jump for us on course! 

And I had a good time! Not perfect, jesus god not at all, but not so bad that my ego took a beating. And that friends, is what success looks like to me. Sure I let him drift horribly, his leads again were a work in progress (dammit!!) and we got a very awkward short spot more than once, but we also nailed a few jumps and they rode forward and lovely.

I think it’s all a matter of not letting your ego take the ride. You ride. Each fence. Good? GREAT! Bad? Ok moving on! Either way, my goal when I am jumping is to ‘feel’ each fence. Not drifting outside of myself, not feeling the horse. I’m done with disassociating.

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This week we jumped the oxer going the other direction, slightly downhill. 

It’s funny to me to ride with another person in my lesson, because I do it so rarely, but when I do it’s also a lesson to me- everyone deals with anxiety. And people see me ride, and think I never have to deal with it. Ha, how little they know! Anxiety used to rule my life, rule my ride and my lessons. I am still managing it, day-to-day. I just worked extremely hard to manage it, not make it go away forever- that’s not going to happen.

Resist much, obey little

My husband clued me into Walt Whitman last night and darned if I’m not really enjoying delving deeper! This has been a difficult week, not for work reasons but just for life/physical reasons. I’m still holding out some hope for a better conclusion, but in the meantime, the sage words of Walt Whitman hold some consolation.

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I have an excellent weekend to look forward to at least!

And I had a good (but definitely challenging and not great) riding lesson last night. My physical struggles this week manifested in my ride- I could hold things together for a bit, and then BOOM! Forget how to ride. I rode a very good first course, and then when the jumps went up, my brain fell out. Sorry Oats!

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Why do the jumps look big when you’re jumping and then small in video??

This meant we had some stops, about 3-4 jumps where Oats rode magnificently and I just…Didn’t ride and got left behind, spectacularly.  I was having a brain-body disconnect.

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Oh well, you can’t win them all and this week? I got out alive so I’m winning. I was fortunate enough to have my friend use her Pixio, and she let me borrow it to videotape my rides. It is SO COOL!!! Like having a robot film you the whole round! I am very impressed- how neat is that technology? It’s amazing!! And the quality/picture quality is so good, considering how bad the light is at that time of night (sun glare all the time).

 

Burn you up: Mr. Oats is a great pony

Had my regular jump lesson last night, and wowza it was warm at the barn, particularly in the outdoor arena. The sun was going down, but not near quick enough so it was quite hot for horses, riders and our trainer. Still, it was a lovely night and there’s no place I would rather be….Basking in the warm (sweaty) glow of working hard in partnership with my best pony, Oats.

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From last fall. When you ride it well, it goes well. 

Again I felt kind of complainy, that I didn’t know how to ride properly. I get strangely backed off and tentative/hesitant in the outdoor and get too conservative with my release with my body. It’s ok body, you know what to do! So do it! I told Nicole that I wanted to stop ‘letting the jumps happen’ and actively RIDE to each jump, and make them happen. Basically change from passive to active. Easier said than done, but heyyy it was a good ride regardless.

Oats was moving well but his -super bad and half changes- were not even a thing. I was feeling like I kind of had to really muscle him to switch leads, again, strange but I’m going to chalk it up to the harder footing and maybe him feeling a tad stiff.

On course we had some really nice fences, and some not-so-nice ones, but on the whole I focused on riding more boldly, changing things that needed to be changed, and riding TO and OVER each jump, rather than sitting, waiting and hoping. I need to feel more connected to my horse, rather than just floating on top of him, waiting.

Of course, the first fence we rode to on-course he…Stopped. Ha. It was a balance between ‘sitting’ and ‘riding’ and I just kind of…didn’t? Oats is a very honest pony, and not a stopper. I think he kind of just needed input from me, and I wasn’t there to provide it.

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From last summer- I hope to be feeling this confident again in the outdoor! 

No worries though, I circled, re-presented and he was fine. The rest of the course rode pretty well, with a few uglier jumps going downhill (the swapping lead thing kind of hit us hard), but we finished with a really lovely ride over the roll-top. YES! Go pony go!!!

We were wild

I had a really decent long weekend, and jump-started it by having a really solid dressage lesson on Friday. It was TOUGH! But excellent. You know that feeling of having worked hard, really hard, and gotten exactly what you wanted? That feeling!

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Not to say it was perfect, but after the sort of angst on Thursday, I told my trainer that we didn’t have a good ride, that my expectations of ‘perfection’ were ruining my ride and I wanted to get past it, over it. These weirdness spells sort of come and go, and I was ready to focus and not dwell!

We spent basically the whole lesson in canter (with plenty of walk breaks) focusing on building Oats’ lateral flexibility in the canter, leading to canter haunches-in. It was really good! And very much highlighted the difficulties I have in ‘riding’ his canter, rather than being ‘taken for a ride’ in the canter. Can I influence his canter? Or do I just sit there, like a passengers, helplessly?

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It was an important lesson for me to realize just HOW much I am needing to do and ride. I’m at the point where I can’t just sit and tune out, and expect Oats to read my mind and do ‘something’…I have to influence it, ride it, and ride every stride.

Good to know! It was a very cool lesson. Eye opening!

Don’t Disconnect (Mr. Oats is a saint)

Had my first jump lesson in the outdoor yesterday, and the weather was GORGEOUS! I was feeling weirdly anxious, I guess because there is always a bit of a learning curve for me to jump in the outdoor?

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This is from last year, almost to the date actually! I remember feeling like I didn’t know how to ride then again either, haha. Oh and this felt like a ‘big’ jump.Hah! 

I start of complaining that I don’t know how to ride, and yesterday I still kind of …didn’t. Ha. Oats was a freaking saint though, somebody nominate this pony! We worked over a course of small jumps and had some good jumps, and some really…ick jumps. I just couldn’t seem to get my eye to synch up with my body? I was feeling backed off and tentative, while Oats was like yeah no, I got this mom! And he’d jump, and I’d get left behind! Shit!

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From last May. 

I think I need to get better about riding more boldly, as he clearly isn’t having the problems that I am! Next lesson I am going to focus more on feeling my ride through my body, and learning to really commit, instead of being backed off.

Makes me feel very humble, haha. I am not great, while my pony is like, yeah sure no problem mom, I got this! What a saint!

Love and appreciate Mr. Oats

Boldness comes from confidence and confidence comes from success.

Quote by Jack LeGeoff, a very famous showjumper. And I have to say…He’s right. I was musing on this verbally with my trainer last night. I have had long-standing anxiety/fear issues with jumping (even though I love it!!) and it’s taken me a long, long time to let my body and brain be okay with what I’m doing- jumping! Years and years at 2′ basically.

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Screengrab my trainer took- Oats cantering 2’9” like a little pro! Can you believe we TROTTED this in our warm-up? Me either! 

In some aspects I look back and am like, man why did it take that long? But that’s basically the same emotion as finishing a solid personal-best style race and muttering, ‘Why couldn’t I have gone just a little bit faster?’ It doesn’t serve anyone.

What does serve is being appreciative and happy with the progress you/I have made. Taking it jump by jump, lesson by lesson, and day by day. I don’t really take it for granted (much…It’s still a human instinct apparently).

Anyways, my trainer announced she was going to have me do something yesterday that she knew I’d really hate- trot jumps. Ughhh!! Even better, we were going to play the ‘how high can you go’ with a trot jump?! I was like, oh this is going to be good… But I played along! Part of my anxiety in the past wouldn’t let me just try things, and I’m ready to try now.

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Another, less fabulous screengrab- a fail on my part, a too-close distance for Oats over the oxer. We had to re-ride this (and it went fantastic!) 

So we trotted in! We started with a canter x-rail, and then moved it to a very small (under 2ft) vertical for the trot in. We did a few trot in, and up it went! And then up it went again and we went SPLAT for one jump- I kind of pushed and then pulled and couldn’t make up my mind to leave him alone to it, haha. And then to 2’6”! Wha? I got with the rhythm a bit better, and figured things out, and we called it quits…Until I said go to 2’9”- I know we can do it. And the first time, I got nervous and did the ‘Go-no wait, no canter, now go!’ And I did confuse the poor pony but he bobbled up to it and flew over! We had to do it again, and this time I TROTTED and didn’t get all nervous and grabby. 🙂 YAY Oats!

It felt like a ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ moment but it was excellent for the both of us. For me, to understand that jumping bigger fences and ‘waiting’ not rushing or driving at them is a-ok and totally fine. For Oats, he was pushing off his hind end more equally. Win-win! And a bonus- when we went to canter it for our second course, it felt pretty darn easy.

That’s not to say our courses were foot-perfect (hahah no) we got in way too close on our second round to the rocks and to the oxer, so we had to ride them again. But you know what? I just love and appreciate the ‘try’ my pony exhibited in the whole ride, his willingness, and the mind/mental freedom I had to give these new and scary things a go.

Moment by moment, I just really am feeling this little guy more and more now.