Rain, rain go away

As I am far behind in my recaps…I did a jump lesson in the pouring rain on Thursday and I did it pretttttyyyy grudgingly- hello, it was pouring!!

Nicole however, insisted we do it to practice for the upcoming SSITS Avalon Derby Cross that we had signed up for and I guess she was right, we needed the experience jumping and toughing it out in all weathers, as it poured rain on our warm-up day Saturday at Avalon as well! Hm..good thing I had Thursday under my belt.

I was feeling weird before my lesson. Kind of angsty- thinking about the show, bummed about the weather, just kind of strange. We came down to the arena and Nicole was bundled up in a tarp like this:

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Photo courtesy of Sarah C. Horses didn’t even blink!

Ha! And Oats, good pony, got a good look at her but then didn’t bat an eye when she was rustling around moving jumps, even when we were like behind her and the tarp was louder. Good pony! The jump course was the same as last week, which I was thankful for, as it gave us another opportunity to work on some aspects that kind of bungled for me–the turns, and forward, and bravery.

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Trainers have to stay dry somehow! Desensitizing horses=win/win! Photo courtesy of Sarah C.

Not that I didn’t still make mistakes- in fact, the final jump (10) I bungled so we looped around and just jumped it on it’s own, and it rode really well! Also the jumps that had oxers went up to oxers- which did make me nervous, and they didn’t ride well for me- I kind of tried to chase Oats past his distance, so they were weirdly chippy.

I was much happier with most of tracks I chose, and we didn’t have any stops or anything. He was a good and honest pony in the pouring rain- I was soaked- and didn’t put a hoof wrong, even with a bunch of new stuff piled behind the indoor arena, his favorite spooky zone.

I did notice that I was much more comfortable with a closer stride and distance, and so was Oats, funny enough. It wasn’t lovely, but it was pretty darn good. Considering the strange nerves I had going in, I was pleased with the ride and looking forward (with more than a little trepidation) to my first-ever Derby Cross event on the weekend.

That recap is to come!

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When do you know, you know?

Ending of a tired week. So tired. I can’t figure out this crazy body fatigue I have this week, but I hate it! And the weather, while sunny, has been freaking freezing!!

Argh, when will spring actually happen?

QMS2

I want this to look small to me. Showing when 2’3” terrified me!

But aside from my tired grouching (I think I must need some days off, like more than 2 in a row due to my tired crabbiness…) I had a great jump lesson last night, and it made me wonder–when are you sure if you are mentally ready to move up?

We are rocking 2’3” courses (shh, I know this is a very small height. But I feel like I am headed to the 2’3” Olympics here!) and I’m definitely showing 2’3” next year at our winter series.

But…

One time I showed 2’3” consistently and consistently bombed it. I wasn’t mentally ready, even though I thought I was.

QMS show

Yeah this wasn’t a great show…

So, is this new-found ‘okayness’ here to stay?

We are not great at this height, but that can be said of most heights, and I still feel a bit like, gulp… when I see the jumps go up, but I feel mostly…fine. We’re even doing oxers at this height, something unheard of for me. So, am I ready? We make mistakes, pick up our reins, and move on.

Last night we worked on a course that I rode off-course a few times hahah. But we started at 2” and moved up to 2’3” without any real screw-ups! It was pretty simple, with a diagonal line, outside line, a 1-stride in and out, a swedish oxer, and the outside jump to the diagonal jump.

We even bravely took the option to ride the swedish oxer the other way to go to the 1-stride line from the other direction, and good Oats didn’t even blink! I saw another rider in the lesson before mine’s horse slam on the brakes when she re-approached from the other direction.

I like and trust Oats to make the right decision- most of the time- and honestly most of the time he’s like, yeah whatever.

Love it!

Foxstone show recap: November show!

On paper (well, in ribbons) this show looked pretty darn good- and to be honest, my complains and frustration comes from a place of progress not fear. So that IS a good thing.

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My new show jacket! I love it. A big thanks to my trainer for taking me this day.

Let’s break it down: I placed 2nd in the equitation over fences, two thirds in the hunter o/f classes and a fourth in the flat.Not too shabby eh? Well, I made some BIG mistakes in the jump classes, to the tune of not enough leg at all, and a big add in the the line with some chips, and then a lovely round in my second class to a huge fail at the…last fence…shit! We basically stopped, and climbed over it. Nothing but a total failure to ride the last fence on my part, which was very disappointing.

I lit a fire under my butt for the last jump class- I told myself NO MORE CHIPPING and NO MORE ADDING and oh, no more forgetting to ride the last fence and start congratulating myself too early, ha.

And you know what? It was our best round! I was moving.

Except then I didn’t know how to take that ‘BIG’ energy down enough for our flat class and I totallllllly bombed it. Oats was tense and anxious, and I was handsy and clutching, feeling afraid that he was bottled up and bucky, but not really knowing how, at the moment, to deal with it. Shoooot…

So, I kind of flopped, pulled, got anxious and failed my way through the flat class- we picked up the wrong lead on the right (TWICE! kill me now…) and generally I was kind of frustrated and miserable. Our last flat class was a dream so what in hell was going on?

Well heck, it’s all a learning experience! It is actually nice to take what I’ve consciously learned from the first show, and apply it to the second show.

We didn’t get a fabulous warmup- the outside ring was frozen solid- and so was I, by the way! So we had to just slowly walk around, freezing our asses off, until we could get into the indoor to warm up over fences. The scene there was total chaos, some riders seemed to have a warm up technique of repeatedly falling off…I felt disjointed and a bit disorganized, but Oats was a dream to warm up. The only thing I was annoyed about was his throwing his head around, but that’s just a warm up thing, I’m sure.

We then sat…and sat…and sat…freezing our butts off, while we waited for the final rotation to go- and we were last in the final rotation. Lovely.

I think the issues were clear- not enough energy for our over fences classes until the last one, when I finally mustered up enough ‘go’ for the course, and then WAY too much ‘go’ for my flat.

The sitting really killed our impulsion for sure, and then when I needed to be ‘sitting’…well, we were already in the ring for the flat class and didn’t have that necessary ‘decompression’ time Oats and I apparently need to not kill anyone in a flat class. I couldn’t moderate myself enough. It was 0-60 all the time.

Hm, interesting.

I had a dream that night that I was galloping Oats and I felt a bit out of control, but that I also liked it…It was strange. I felt like that dream was telling me that was what I needed at the show, but was blocked from achieving it.

So, last night I did my equine counseling session with Vicki, and kind of actually ended up re-enacting some gallops from my dreams? Weird eh? I guess that was what I needed to get…that big gallop, the good canter, and the ‘free, floaty, smooth’ trot that I could NOT get at the show.

It had to come up somewhere. So it did. I liked it!

I like seeing the progression, and I’m liking the process. So what if I am frustrated–at least it’s taking me places to see new things about myself and my horse.

It’s funny- when I said I was half pleased, half disappointed about the show, Vicki asked what would make me 100% happy about the show. What if I came home with all first places?

I instantly knew I what I would say–that the competition was weak, so I was the best out of the worst.

That surprised me. I need to be happy with what I am achieving right now.

Burn your fires for no witness

Jump lesson update!

I didn’t update after my schooling hack on Tuesday because it was non-remarkable–Oats was being a good pony, we did some lateral work to limited success, and well, it was fine. Yesterday I had my jump lesson and something interesting is starting to dawn on me…

As I get better about my anxiety, and am learning to manage it and appropriately stretch my boundaries, I’m coming up against something my equine counselor warned me about: frustration. She said with learning comes frustration or being mad about something and that is just the way it is expressed, as part of the process.

I’m coming in to my lesson with Oats, not being frustrated at him, but being frustrated by our ‘pace’?!! And it never really bothered me before, and I think it is close to 100% in my head? For example…

We worked over a small gymnastic and then moved on to a little course. The gymnastic was a two-stride x-rail to vertical. Nicole moved it in because quite often Oats is backed off and not super forward through the lines, and if horses were jumping it before us, then it’s set too long.

Well! We worked through it, I complained that he felt too slow and she said he was eating up the lines, and she had to move the jumps back??? He was making the horse strides through the gymnastic, which pretty much never happens, and I was complaining that he felt too slow? What is going on in my brain??

Very interesting. The course itself went well and funny enough so did the gymnastic. Oats did have a few moments of extreme befuddlement over green box (which he has jumped a million times before) but now it was on a circle, in a shadowy part of the arena…So he jumped it like it was 3ft high and 4ft wide? WOAH! He did that every time too! I think he was having trouble ‘seeing’ what he was jumping, so figured that overjumping was the best/safest policy…Poor pony, it was kind of hilarious how confused he was by the box?

Proof Oats has jumped the green box with no drama.

Proof Oats has jumped the green box with no drama.

I did have moments where I was very close to my comfort zone and I let Nicole know, but I think it’s just a phase in my learning process right now. I never felt scared or super worried, just kind of…oomph, let’s GO Oats!

Also- Oats would like to wish everyone a happy Halloween! I think he looks better as a bunny than as the devil, don’t you think?

Oats as 'himself' last year...

Oats as ‘himself’ last year…

Bunny Oats

Bunny Oats

Life is something you do when you can’t get to sleep

One out of 30 isn’t so bad.

Being braver

Being braver

Had a jump lesson last night, and it did try my need for perfection quite strongly. I hate bad distances, crashing jumps, rails down, and chips (gah the chips!) and we had exactly 1 super bad jump- I misjudged and let my legs slip back a bit on the downhill, and Oats slid into the jump and took it out.

I kind of jarred my shoulder, but overall stuck it. We lowered it to an x-rail, worked through it again to the bending line oxer (it was kind of ugly), then rode it again to the oxer- much better!

I want this to look small to me.

I want this to look small to me.

I ended on that note, and it kind of took all of my courage to not completely wimp out when things went sour. I have a real tendency towards perfection, and when the rails start coming off the tracks, I backpedal and can’t seem to get going again.

My coach brought it home with this- so it was 1 bad jump-all the others looked pretty good! So what was I complaining about exactly? One out of 30 or so odd jumps isn’t the end of the world, and quite frankly, my need for ‘perfect rounds’ or flawless jumps is unrealistic and damaging – I’m saying this, she didn’t.

So we screw up and make mistakes- that is how we learn and how we change. Oats certainly didn’t hold it against me- he was a bit hesitant the next fence, but on the firm second try he was totally game. What an honest pony!

Sometimes he can be a saint and sometimes a devil- I need to trust him to make the right decisions.

And that brings me to today- not sure what kind of ride I might plan for tonight, but I’m going to take it a bit easier after our jump lesson last night. I don’t think it was particularly strenuous, but it was kind of a tough mental game for me- they always are.

I also worked quite hard on going into my jump lesson with a ‘neutral’ attitude – not grouching and not complaining about the jump heights- and did it work? Ha, sort of? I do still feel like i’m ”faking it” a bit but I am honestly trying to make changes in my mindset and my body. I also tried to make a real effort to breathe more (this happened in my warmup, not so much in my actual jump course, ooooops).

Though I did NOT say anything about the jump heights- even when they got bumped up to the ‘vaunted heights’ of 2’3”! OOohhh ahahhaha.

Go us!

Taste is…a matter of taste

Another quote from Bright Lights Big City.

Started off well

Started off well

And, I’m happy to say, Oats and I are back being good together (at least for now?!!) ha. We had a jump lesson last night and while the jumps were teeny-weenie, we have fun and it felt pretty good. It was HOT for me, I felt like I was absolutely sweating buckets and gulping down water. Working in a sedentary air-conditioned office job does not prepare you well for working out in warmer weather, there’s no acclimatization period, nothing.

We worked first over a small gymnastic and Oats was in noooooo hurry…We got a lazy six in the gymnastic, which was ok I guess. At least we were consistent?

Leaving looooooong!

Leaving looooooong!

And things I need to work on: Actually getting my butt off my pony in two point in grids and on-course. Watching the video (which was great to get, thanks to a friend who stuck around to capture it!!) made that VERY clear.

Actually the ‘not sitting’ through a line or course is two-fold- helps me free up Oats’ back, AND might encourage me to use my crop behind my leg to GET HIS PONY BUTT MOVING! I see this as another fairly large issue- leg leg leg leg leg! Enough leg. More whip!

Now when I actually let go of my fear and DID crop him behind my leg, we had some super jumps! yay!!! Not that the course was like, 100% lovely- definitely not- but I’m feeling pretty positive about it.

I even volunteered to do the gymnastic line again instead of jump the course again (gymnastic lines are my nemesis…I would typically do anything to avoid them) and did it twice! We had one big spook and consequently took down 1 rail, but we regrouped and did it again and were even tight into the six…I could have tried for the 5 strides but I wasn’t feeling like it….I did feel like we can get the six no problem, so let’s stay with that for now?

So, go us! Go Oats!

You before me

Jump lesson last night, and my legs were still not quite 100% (shoot!!) but I went with it…

We worked on a very twisty-turny course set QUITE low (all x-rails and I think verticals at 1ft..haha). It was tricky! I felt like I certainly wasn’t anxious about the jump heights, but I was feeling a bit of performance anxiety- kind of ate it at a few jumps (got left behind, kind of pulled at Oats over an awkward distance at another fence, and we slowly ground to a halt at small x-rail when we lost steam!) So…The mistakes were definitely my fault, haha.

Jumping last year- photo courtesy of Christi.

Jumping last year- photo courtesy of Christi.

But, the jumps were so low, it wasn’t really anything to get worried about? All part of the learning process (can’t believe how I am getting left behind these days, whoa it feels weird?!).

So- I’m making mistakes but it’s ok to make mistakes? As my trainer said, ”Oats is a saint!!” Haha yes he is- he can be a big jerk sometimes, but he’s a very honest horse and quite a tryer most days.

Cute Buster Bunny just because...

Cute Buster Bunny just because…

The course was so turny that we broke it down into 4- jump sections at a time, so I could school through the first four, take a break, and learn the next 4-jump section! It was confusing haha. There were 11 jumps total, and the funny thing is that the course didn’t really feel too onerous, and I normally complain heartily about anything over 8-jumps. Well look at us now! And we jumped it twice haha.

I also left feeling like I could have easily jumped the course with *some* of the jumps set up higher. Note: Not all of them!

But some of them!

So- A good feeling to leave me with ‘wanting more’…