Hard but worth it

I had a sports psychologist session with the great Dave Freeze yesterday, right before my riding lesson and it was really insightful. Weirdly I cried on and off the entire time, but I didn’t feel sad- I felt pretty good. And my face didn’t get all red and hot like real tears, I felt fine, no puffy swollen eyes, nothing. It was just emotion, coming out like how it wanted to!


Whee! Jump jump. From a lesson a few weeks ago.

(As a non-crier, it felt weird).

Anyways, it was a lot to go through and I felt kind of wrung out by the end, but I have some valuable tools to work with and the best part- I was able to head straight over to my lesson after and put it into practice!

Basically to sum it up all I have to do for riding:

  1. Show up
  2. Give it my best
  3. Manage my mistakes
  4. Learn
  5. Look for high powered FUN!

Easy right? Ha! But yes some good things to work on.


Go Oats go!

I went into my lesson feeling pretty good! Almost immediately I had some ‘external bubble’ things to deal with- it was freezing, so I was shivering and had to grab my gross old barn jacket to wear. No problem, addressed.

Then, Oats was really draggy and non-interested in my warmup. High headed, kind of frustrating, slow off the leg, reins not there, spooky and generally not paying attention. Spooks? Over and done with. Letting it go.


Funny thing, this was a very awkward jump. Looks fine in a still eh?

Lazy? Deal, don’t dwell.

I was actually pretty good at managing my emotions well in the warm-up, whereas I know I wanted to get frustrated. But you know what? Regardless of how he warms up, I can manage MY emotions- I can’t manage his. So, I will do that!

Anyways, the warm up for the course was good for the first half, and then the second half I got left behind a few times, Oats was hesitant and backed off. No problem. I will go around and try it again! See how that goes. (better).

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Jumping the coop. It is so pretty!

Course time- I was a bit nervous- see the backed-off part…But I thought, hey let’s just see how this goes? I make a mistake, I manage it. No biggie. And you know what? It rode really nicely! Not perfect (HAH) but pretty darn good.

We did the course once, and I had some fleeting thoughts of doing it again, but decided against it. I have to minds of this. Sarah A and Sarah B.

Sarah A: You are a chicken! Why didn’t you ride it again? It went so well, what are you afraid of, screwing it up??

Sarah B: The course went well and you managed all your minor errors. Nice work. Why don’t we take that good feeling home and know that you can be kinder to yourself on a day that you already did a lot of personal work? There is always a next time to ride a good course.

See where I am going with this? It’s tough. I want to be Sarah B all the time ­čÖé And if I was, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this! Moving on…ha.

We are what we pretend to be…

…so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.

Quote by Kurt Vonnegut, not an author I really enjoyed reading ever (so curmudgeonly sometimes, jeeeesh).

But this quote- it’s true! Although I think a┬ápositive┬áconnotation sometimes (do I pretend to be nicer, more generous than I actually am, and therefore somehow become those great traits?).

Anyways I’m thinking of this more in the terms of ‘fake it till you make it’ or some other bravado/encouraging type talk. I both like and dislike those sentiments. What if you’re always faking it?

Impostor Syndrome is actually a thing.

And to tie this into my horseback riding and run world- I often feel like I’m faking it, or trying to compensate for fear or fear of injury by blowing through and pushing myself to just ‘do it!’ and then it’ll all get better. Except the next time, I’m faced with the same fears. And the next time…And the next time…

So, this hamster wheel of pretending. Who stops the cycle? Am I willing to? ┬áNot at this point I don’t think I am. This is very common in the workplace too, from what I hear. And my form of compensating is being braggy, a sharp, clever girl who showboats what she’s good at (and man, I am┬ágood at some important things at work, and I let them know it!!). This is another form of compensating, on my side, for previous times when my work wasn’t respected and it hurt me beyond what I knew.

Conversely- I’m an ok runner, on the mediocre side and I don’t really get to brag too hard about that, mostly because I’m kind of always living with the fear that my knee will sideline me bigtime. Every run is a lucky run, basically. I’m very careful about maintenance, but so paranoid about every twitch, stumble or ache. I know I’m lucky to get to do this much, and I often see photos of myself after a race and I am in awe- that’s me? I run? I do this?

Riding is a harder boat to float in. You can pretend to yourself, but can you pretend to an animal?

And I’m not sure what the lies ahead! I took yesterday off riding after the tougher dressage lesson- and my knees/legs have been KILLING me this week, so I spent the evening on the couch icing my knees and shins. Ouch…

Jump lesson with Oats tonight, and then I’m taking Friday off to rest my knee/legs again.

Keeping in a comfort zone?

As I wrapped up my jumping lesson with Oats yesterday, I remarked about how much more relaxed I was feeling about jumping. I still get nervous and anticipatory, but it’s a lot more fun for me now, I can focus without feeling extremely fearful, and I’m able to get more done- ie. Oats straighter to the jump, better simple lead changes, bending (still kind of working on this one..).

Firefighters working on the blaze at the Equitable Life Insurance Building in below-freezing weather, January 9, 1912.

Firefighters working on the blaze at the Equitable Life Insurance Building in below-freezing weather, January 9, 1912. Loved this pic.

I think it’s because, funny enough, I’ve been staying very firmly at a height, jump-wise, that is laughably small. Yeah, like I am still the x-rail queen. But you know what? That heart-pounding, gasping and freezing and ‘out of body’┬áfeeling is slowly going away. I feel more confident, my distances are ALL working out, and I feel like every Thursday, I AM doing a jump lesson, instead of wanting to wimp out instead.

It’s a good feeling. It does make me feel strange that even after all this time, I am jumping Oats over fences small enough to walk over, but you know what? Once I took the pressure of forcing myself to jump higher off, I enjoyed myself WAY MORE.

Jumping, any height, is still challenging. But it’s a challenge that I am happy to do, not one that makes me sweaty with fear.

My next goal is to do a spring show at two feet and not lose my mind completely. I think I can do it!

Oh and if I’m saying jumping is all rainbows and butterflies, I still hate doing gymnastics. UGH hate them. So, we are running through a gymnastic line in every lesson. *love it*….ha.

AND I have been revisiting my mental imagery while I walk to work. I have had all really solid, good jumping lessons this winter season. I want to continue this positive flow, and if I can really focus on it while I let my mind otherwise wander, it’s a good thing!

Less is more? More is more?

So this week I have felt like a bit of a slacker. Haven’t been riding as much as I wanted to, and haven’t really been running either (weather was horrendous, it’s DARK!, work/social engagements).

But the funny thing, even though I rode Oats less this week- only in my lessons- dressage with Karen Brain on Tuesday, and jumping with Nicole Gibby on Thursday- Oats has been going nicer than ever!

Enough caramel apples?

Enough caramel apples?

True, he still had a minor hissy fit on Tuesday, but compared with how he was last week…Well, way better.

I had planned to ride Monday but was feeling terrible, and kind of wrenched my neck/shoulder on the weekend moving jumps around.

Tuesday was the lesson, and we certainly worked hard!

Wednesday I ended up going out for drinks with a colleague who was visiting from out of town (he works in a different city in Northern BC) and was out until about 8pm. Yes my brain felt fuzzy, similar to having too many Caramel Apple Ciders at Halloween!

Thursday, jumping lesson with Nicole, and he was good! We got a way better flow, he was nicer to me and not such a grouch, and he was playing along really well. We even got our strides in a trot-in gymnastic, similar to the disaster one we were trying last week- with no issues at all! So smooth!

Funny eh? Maybe I ride him too much then! He seemed to get along well with a schedule of 1 on, 1 off days. Something to think about when we come up to horse shows, maybe I would be better off not riding on an intense schedule the days before?

I’m thinking I should play around with his schedule a bit this winter, see if he works better with that sort of schedule.

And for me? Honestly I need the practice, but I need it more in my own head. So, I am going to try to practice ‘mental strength’ and when I am not riding Oats in the evening, I will try to dedicate a few minutes to mental practice. I have to.

Even though it feels awkward and I don’t like it. I’m wondering how to get better at envisioning how I want things to go…Maybe I should watch a video of a jump round of us at a show, and use that to ‘imagine practice’?



It feels boring and uncomfortable, like my knee exercises. Ha. Oh and like this weirdo sign I saw painted on a wall in Brooklyn, Williamsburg. So weird!~