And spoiler: It was probably the worst I’ve had all season- even worse than the one I almost fell off in? And here’s the other shocker- while I was annoyed it was going badly while I was riding, I also felt…Fine. It was like, ok this is how it is going to go. I can deal. I’m glad I got media because my friend has been coming to take videos and I LOVE seeing her! She is so cool. Just a blast to be around. 🙂
So what went down? It started pretty well actually! We schooled over a few x-rails (and I have to say, trotting bigger jumps really helps Oats and I to rock back, so maybe I should ask for that or practice it on my own next week…I hate it though!), and then schooled over the combination.
A few weeks ago, the combination was my BIGGEST bugaboo. HA. Now this week, we were crooked as all hell (coming out of the left is tough for us…the drift is real!) but we could buckle down and like, ride it? Rather than sitting and freezing up, ha.
So, the combination. Good! Check.
But when we went to ride the course, Oats got spooked by our friend in the field and slammed on the brakes at the first jump (the rocks) and then I looked down and stopped riding to the second jump (every time, as it turns out…the planks), and I started losing focus.
The rest of the course rode pretty well at the lower height- no complaints there.
But then, I started losing touch of ‘soft’ and out of the saddle riding and basically every time I tried it, I disconnected and Oats stopped. Argh! So, that’s something to work on. He felt me disengage and he was like, nahhh…
Every time I buckled down and RODE he was like oh yeah no problem! So, clearly my ‘being soft’ is the issue here.
And then when we went to ride our second course, a few more people joined and were hanging outside the ring, with a few dogs in the shadows. Of course Oats could NOT handle it…And I mentally had a lot of trouble regrouping, and adjusting my ride and my mindset. I guess I couldn’t handle it either? He wasn’t even being that spooky, hahah. I was frazzled!!! Jumping is hard enough for me without added distractions, though in hindsight, I do value them. If i can maintain focus in the ring for my jumps, that can only be a good thing for horse shows eh?
But…Yesterday I let it get to me.
We got around, and funny enough it was at the most boring, non-interesting jumps that we had the stops at (because I thought I could stop riding at them, obviously). Hah!
Oats is a saint though, and while he will definitely call me on my bullshit, he’s very honest and forgiving. He’s like, oh ok let’s do it! Literally doesn’t really notice from jump to jump. And let’s face it- I need to be more like that myself.
I did it!! I still have shoulder pain, and it was pretty bad last night AND freaking shin splints (that is bothering me the most right now. Funny timing, that.) BUT I was able to have and enjoy a jumping lesson last night.
That’s right- one week out after my accident Oats and I are a team together, flying over (small) fences and kicking butt!! He was such a saint, too. We had a few weeks off with his sudden lameness, cancelled the show, and he was off last week when I had my accident. July was kind of a perfect storm for us, I am realizing.
I am hopeful that August will be better, and you know what? It already is. My scrapes are healing, I think my shin splints should clear up soon-ish (still, ouch.) and Oats is BACK baby!!!
I did feel anxious about the lesson. It’s been a few weeks, Oats hasn’t jumped in…Three weeks? Me either? I’m recovering from an accident? I have a hard time being kind to myself. It seems like pushing myself too hard, due to some deep lurking insecurity is my default mode. Not now. Not this time. I’m not interested in wallowing. For me, pushing too hard was a way of wallowing!
Being mentally stronger means I am ok with taking time off (god this is almost impossible for me). So I am scaling things back for a few weeks. I have also enjoyed the emotional and other type of support from my husband, my horse friends and colleagues. they get it…It’s hard. Plus my friends bought me the fancy new pink boots featured in photos today- I have been waiting WEEKS to debut his pink outfit! 😉 I LOVE Oats in pink.
I am still just riding a high. I’m jumping my best pony again. Things are gooooood. He was great last night, just basically, ”Snooze…I got this mom. You sit tight and I’m fine.” Love that he’s so low-key. Phew! What a golden boy. I wanted to jump higher, but I was afraid too. I was feeling a bit anxious and worried about jarring my injured shoulder. So, I was careful with myself, and didn’t let my ego dictate. There will always be more days to jump high, you know?
When you start at the beginning, you have to go slow. You have to learn how to do it all over again (something like the quote from ‘Bright Lights Big City’….) And you can’t rush that process.
I had a really interesting chat/session with a friend yesterday (in lieu of me going to the gym at lunch, which is my preferred routine). Because I am still recovering from some of my minor injuries (shoulder, the scrapes on my hands, knee and elbow, now with added bonus of shin splints), I figured I needed to take more time off from working out that I wanted to.
So we met and had a great conversation! I was kind of struggling mentally with the (relatively minor) setback I had recently, so it was really nice to talk about this stuff with someone who can help me ‘reframe’ what is going on in my head, and help me make a plan for my future rides, and runs, where I’m not running through disaster scenarios in my head, or reliving tripping and falling. If I am being honest, I had falling nightmares after Thursday. All I could feel when I was trying to sleep was this scary ‘rocked’ feeling?
And this weirdly triggered some pretty intense riding anxiety. A ‘physical’ anxiety, if you will? When I went to ride Oats, and he was lame (and now sound), I just couldn’t deal. Physically I’m not even badly hurt, but for some reason it felt serious, like wow…I could get hurt doing this (riding, running, whatever) in a way that doesn’t feel real most days. Or at least, I don’t care.
Now I do. For now anyways!
I have to tone it WAY down this week. My shin splints hurt so badly this morning I limped to work. That was idiotic. I’m making the big step to walk home from work (can’t run), and get a lift in tomorrow, which is strangely difficult for me to swallow. I don’t WANT to get a lift in? I want to run.
I’m clearly still healing, and this is hard for me to take.
So my friend and I worked on a plan for my rides (mentally mostly) to make sure that when I go out to ride, I do not bring this negative, ‘triggering’ mentality with me. I’m looking for fun, easy, happy, positive rides. Productive? Sure, can be. But is it fun? That’s the most important.
I had to work on this mindset last night, I was back in the indoor (I am VERY afraid of bringing back his weird 2-week lameness???) so I have been riding in the indoor. Plus my shoulder is messed up, and I have on and off numbness in my foot from the freaking shin splints. You should see me dismount…It’s not pretty. Lots of cringing, and a slowwww slide off Oats.
It’s not as fun, but whatever. He was very good, nice floaty trot, but he was heavier on my hands, draggy through transitions, whatever. Typical Oats stuff. But if/when I’m having kind of a tougher day mentally, this sets me off into a ‘perfection’ spiral, if you know what that means?
Luckily I had JUST worked on defusing and moving on that morning. So I did that! I didn’t get tense, clench up on him, anxious or anything. If I felt like we were getting too ‘into’ it and intense, I moved on and did stretchy trot. I thought ‘calm’ and ‘moving on’ when it got too much. Plus I smiled! I miss riding. 😉
It’s weird that a physical pain (falling) translates into me being extra-anxious and hard on myself and my horse…But that’s kind of where I am. I’m working my way back, and I feel hopeful that we can do it! I want to be challenged, I want to have fun. I want to learn, try, fail, achieve and succeed again. I miss that (and honestly, it’s only been like 3 weeks. Hah!).
Had a VERY close call with falling off in my jump lesson yesterday, but you know what? I was proudest of the fact that even though my ass ended up above the saddle on his neck, barely clinging on, I regrouped, got my head straight, and went out and RODE it. Competently and quietly.
Ok it was a little bit ‘Oats/Jesus take the wheel!’ but hey, we did it! It was definitely a challenge, mentally and physically, for both Oats and myself. Maxed out height for us, a triple combination, going downhill into the setting sun. Not easy for us, likely easy for others! Though don’t ask me to ride a whole course after that, ha. I was spent!
The course itself rode really well, I was feeling really glad about it, but I know that I was in my mind starting to get amped about heading to the combination, as it was the final few fences on course.
As we rounded the corner, I started gunning Oats and went to jump up his neck, and he went NOPE! Guess again!
And I had to cling on, haha.
Luckily he is as honest as a summer day, so we gathered ourselves, and headed back out. I’m just really enjoying my horse. I learned the other day that my sister’s rabbit died (peacefully, in her sleep enjoying a snooze in the backyard) and I was surprised about how I almost cried when I read about it. I just can’t imagine losing another animal, and part of me grieves in advance for when I have to make that heartbreaking decision, or see it happen to one of my darling critters.
I remember when I almost lost Oats to a serious choking accident.
Even at his worst after that, every day is golden. Lucky to be here. Horse shows, jumps, dressage shows, they’re all bonuses. My chances to ride him, and enjoy him, are what really matter.
I do still want to work on my bravery, challenge, keeping my butt out of the saddle, improved straightness and leads. So many things! But I feel good and confident that we can do it. He’s my boy.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s just strike last week off the map, shall we? I was only able to ride Monday/Friday, due to a number of bad timing things- husband got the flu and was sick for the week, I felt like total crap all week with a head cold and extreme fatigue? And I had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday, so Oats’ leasor got to ride that day instead, for her make-up lesson…And I had my first intro run club on Wednesday, and it took HOURS and I kind of hated it, and just….blah. So blaaaaah. Plus it has been windy as fuck lately and freezing.
So much for the summer?!
I was supposed to join run club on Saturday, for a 14k intro long-run, but the idea of messing around for another few hours (like on Wednesday), viscerally made my face curdle, so I decided to not share my bad attitude with the world on that day and do a run on my own, perhaps more peacefully.
So my weekend was actually pretty nice! Lots of ‘me’ time, laid back, riding (and trying a dressage saddle, it was so cute but I reallly hated riding in it), rode in the field on Friday night (fun!!) and just doing what I wanted to do. Oats had one minor psycho freakout and bolted when I was going to change saddles at the barn. I led him up the hill and he spooked, bolted up the hill and trampled a rotted log. Genius.
I’m glad I elected not to join the run club on Saturday. At 8am, the LAST thing I want to deal with are 60++ people milling around, wasting my time (told you I was surly). I am just not that patient, sorry.
It was horribly windy this weekend, yet again, but I still got some solid patio-time. All in all, a decent weekend.