Never Enough

Jump lesson recap: Spoiler- it was a really good one!

Poor old Oats had a rather strenuous jump lesson the day before with Sarah (and it turned out really well, and they had a good lesson) so he wasn’t exactly ‘on fire’ with me on Thursday, but he managed to pull some enthusiasm together and we did it.

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I am learning how to take screenshots! Still in the indoor though. Proof that we jump oxers, haha.

We worked on pieces of a course, first trotting some x’s on the diagonal, cantering them, then cantering them as verticals, and then cantering a five-stride outside line. And then it was time to get technical!

The course had two bending lines, riding off a jump from the diagonal to the existing jumps in the five-stride outside line. We practiced one of them, and it went fine, so it went up to a vertical and it was coursework time.

(Note: this all happened gradually and even though we only rode the course once, because we practiced so many of the elements, Oats was huffing and puffing and working QUITE hard.)

We started the course and I was feeling apprehensive. He didn’t exactly have a¬†ton of energy, and I was having to work hard to keep that engine rolling. We did have some ugly jumps (well, who doesn’t) but I was determined to ‘stay in the now’ and keep focused on the course, not on my emotions.

And funny enough, my counting, 1-2-1-2, to keep the rhythm, actually really helped!

I was rolling on course, things were really working for us both! Until I forgot where I was going and had to circle for the next bending line- oops. No worries though, we just circled and Oats was GAME ON. He was awesome! He rocked it and I felt fantastic.

It was among the only jump rides where I was feeling like, this course could keep going and I’d be totally fine with it! Instead of wishing for it to be over and rushing to the last fence. Who is this girl?

We even got a chance to try the skinny set in the centre-line. We had to approach it coming off a diagonal fence, and then a tight right turn (10 metre circle practically) to ride up to the skinny. My turn kind of sucked- went wide- but made it happen!

I was so happy, what a rockin’ course.

Nicole even let us finish on that, as she thought Oats was getting tired and didn’t want to push it until things fell apart. We rode well together and it was sooooo fab!

I love that while I was still feeling a tad anxious, I could acknowledge those feelings and keep riding my horse. Sitting up. Hands low. Riding each fence as it came- so much so that I lost myself in the course and didn’t want it to end?? ūüôā

 

 

Still hope for the quiet heart

Had a casual hack on Oats yesterday, to stretch our legs and see how things are after our dressage lesson. I’m taking today’s jumping lesson off due to a work event at night, so an easier week for Oats.

Oats looking cute in Feb.

Oats looking cute in Feb.

We warmed up pretty nicely, and cruised over some poles. I wanted to work on getting the canter (it was an ok canter) on the spooky side. We did drop it a few times when I forgot what I was doing…But he picked it up, and was fairly chillaxed and amenable to the pole work. I then trotted over an insultingly small x-rail to a pole (I think it was normally five strides, but the trot-in approach ended up with six) and he seemingly picked up the wrong lead on the landing EVERY time. Hargumph.

Official beginning of summer: Nemo makes a reappearance!

Official beginning of summer: Nemo makes a reappearance!

Also, he decided that because the x-rail was so small, he could stumble over it instead of jumping it. Sighhh…

But, overall a laid-back and casual ride. Maybe I’m starting to feel more like myself again? My legs were BURNING though. I actually pulled Oats to a stop after a canter because I literally couldn’t support myself in the saddle! I can’t remember the last time my legs hurt that much, just so so tired and aching and sore. It was crazy!

My legs were just so ridiculously tired. I felt like my bones were full of sand.

I kind of felt like I was trudging to work today- not sure why my legs are so full-on tired this week, ugh, but I hope they snap out of it by next week. C’mon body, work with me!

The dude. Photo courtesy of Natasha K.

The dude. Photo courtesy of Natasha K.

I’ve been sharing a lot with the other riders at my barn about my equine wellness approach, and it makes me think: Is it possible to change my mindset about jumping and showing? Can I change? It feels impossible to me, I’ve held this way of being for so long. Feeling¬†something else seems like it will never happen.

I’ve also been thinking- maybe taking the showing down a BIG step is helpful to me. Now I have like, 2 shows this summer instead of 10. Baby steps?

Tips for visualization: Equestrian style

Now, I’m not the strongest believer in this, but it’s been hammered over and over again in my head that positive visualization is a GOOD THING TO DO.

Summer Oats

Summer Oats

Yeah yeah yeah I get it…So why does it feel so¬†uncomfortable¬†and awkward?

Why do I never think about doing it until someone reminds me?

I think it’s hard to do and awkward feeling because it feels forced, like you’re being¬†asked¬†to ‘imagine’ something without any boundaries of ‘what’ to imagine, or ‘where’ to imagine? We as adults, do not have that skill as easily as children anymore.

But, it is something I need to practice- like my knee exercises, which also feel kind of gross and uncomfortable, but something I do NEED to do.

So, where to begin? I felt like was bad at visualizing because I felt adrift…Like, what? How? If you let your mind go free, it usually starts thinking of all the BAD things that can happen- particularly riding. Falls, chips, long-spots, refusals, run-outs, ugly ugly ugly.

So, I thought long and hard about my recent jumping lessons (which obviously, since I’m going to the crossrail olympics, are excellent…)

Winter Oats (a few years back)

Winter Oats (a few years back)

And voila! The hard part of visualizing positively started getting easier.

Here are my tips:

1. Make time. I make a point of visualizing while I am walking to work, takes me about 3-5 minutes during my 20 minute walk. My mind can ‘go blank’ for a bit during this.

2. Pick your most recent lesson and ‘see’ the course or gymnastic you were riding. See it in your mind, and go over it as if you are picking up the trot, transitioning (cleanly) to canter, and the heading to the first jump. ‘Ride’ each fence in your lesson in that course in your mind. ‘3, 2, 1, jump’ all the way to the final closing circle. You only need to do the 1 course per visualization session, because it’s kind of tiring for your mind.

3. Try to ride this course – from your most recent lesson- until your next lesson. Then you can ‘ride’ that course in your mind until the next lesson, and so on. I also try to think things like sitting up, elbows in, shoulders open while I ‘ride’ these in my mind.

4. Being¬†repetitive¬†really helps. By going over and over in my ‘minds-eye’ my most recent lesson, I can ‘see’ distances in my mind easier, and I have less ‘crash and burn’ visualization moments. It’s funny, but I actually found it quite difficult to even see my distances in my mind. When I thought about them I always got them wrong.

5. I even sort of make the motions of canter, jump, release while I’m walking and thinking. For me, it’s easier to be in motion while I’m thinking about the ride/visualizing, as it makes it a bit more active for me and feels more real and less forced/awkward.

Not that I’m an expert- I’ve only really started being more focused about making the effort for positive visualization when I realized I had a lot of ‘blank mind’ time while I was walking to work, so I might as well try to focus my ‘minds-eye’ a bit harder for a least 5 minutes of that walk!

And my jumping lesson (x-rails, yess) last night went very smoothly. So…It’s easy to get really discouraged and forget about¬†visualization¬†when you have a lousy lesson, or can’t stop running a loop of¬†disasters¬†in your mind, but ride those lesson that WORK in your mind, over and over.

Get fresh material without stressing your brain- use your lessons! They’re easy to think about (I think obsessively about them, so might as well use them as material for¬†visualizing).

The Good/Bad/Ugly

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Oh man, where do I start?

I couldn’t have written this post yesterday or Sunday. I was too pissed off, confused, steaming!

Even now…ARGH.

Let’s start with the good: Had a really nice week with Oats. He did some pony riders for my mom, went in a jumping lesson with me and was GREAT! And we got some great shots out of it! And then we had a fun ride in the rain on Saturday, and then..dun dun dun…horse show on Sunday.

Just a small Appy show, but this is where the Bad/Ugly started:

We warmed up fine, he was moving out nicely until we hit the ring. He refused a warm up oxer TWICE! That is already unusual. He was slacking off behind my leg and lulled me in…

There were like 20 riders in my division, and so we sat, and sat, and sat and got bored and sleepy in the holding pen. Our round came up, and it went okay…I tried for a solid 5 in a line and blew it…got a chip to an ugly 6. Oh well, shit happens eh?

Boy, does it EVER.

My next round, I felt anxious…Underpowered. I didn’t feel like I had him WITH me, you know? He slid to a stop at the FIRST FENCE and I fell off over the jump, and pretty much landed on it.

Yes, I fell off AGAIN at a horse show. That makes two in a row, and my fourth fall off Oats since March. WTF>>>

I felt airheaded, fluffy and out of it. I couldn’t focus? It was so weird. I just kept saying I felt strange.

It’s true, I did. Couldn’t get my head in the game, you know? And boy did Oats feel it.¬†

We went in for our last round and he stopped AGAIN at the second fence in the line. This time? I got ANGRY. That is ENOUGH of you (and lets me honest, me too) sleepwalking through the rounds and taking me down the freaking daisy path here.

I spanked him, HARD.

Turned around in quick circle, and blasted him over the silly little jump he neatly ‘declined’ to jump over. Then I kicked his ass all around the course. Hesitate? BLAM! Slow around the corners? KICK! I rode him like I was on fire, and damn, if it didn’t go MUCH BETTER.

He is not a stopper, so I have no idea why he was riding like shit.

JESUS.

Let’s not have a repeat like that ever again. SHit! How does it feel like I’m getting better (more effective rider, my position is improving-you should see the pics!!) and getting worse at the same time? WTF is all I can say right now.¬†

I might take a break from showing for awhile. Clearly, I have some issues that need fixin’

Photo credit to the talented Kourtney Anne.