Friday, February 19, 2016

wherein we do a scary thing + don't die!

Guys. Isabel and I did a thing. A thing that, while technically completely within our skill set, has always scared the ever loving shit out of me.

isabel doesn't get what all the fuss is about haha
Sure, 3' is a height we have previously navigated more or less competently... tho not since doing novice cross country at Loch Moy in October before I broke my leg. And my confidence has grown flimsier without the practice.

Perhaps, in the grand scheme of things, this feat isn't particularly impressive to anyone beyond the principal players. Certainly there's no grand jury waiting to bestow blossoming laurel wreaths upon us. Any comparison between my riding and a world class professional is obviously laughable. Nor will we be featured in any prestigious publications.

Ultimately, tho, I'm only riding for myself. And for me, jumping these barrels felt THRILLING  : D

brita contemplates the realities of appearances from the ground vs from mighty Wick's back. looks like someone might be thinking about novice this year after all!
Anyways... So we snuck in an extra lesson midweek. Actually, maybe my favorite thing about dentist appts is that I can schedule them such that the rest of the afternoon is free for equine-related activities. And this week we opted to go see trainer P at OF again, since Brita missed last weekend and will miss this weekend as well.

#lovethishorse
And it was just three of us from our home barn GE in the lesson - Brita and Wick, lesson director R with her fresh off the track baby TB Birdie, and obvi me and Isabel. So we all had the whooooole arena to play around with warming up. I kinda expected Isabel to be fresh and ready since it had only been two days since her last ride, but she was actually a little slow to start.

"ATTTTTACK!!!!" - isabel
'Twas fine tho. We stretched. We leg yielded and serpentined. We circled big and small. A quick canter to open her back before moving on to strictly sitting the trot. Then practicing all our transitions with sitting - up, down, all around.

Ooh and trainer P taught me a neat cheat for getting a better feel for the sitting trot. She told me to count "1-2 1-2" while also simultaneously thinking "right left right left," with the idea being to develop a stronger feel for each individual hind leg.

I'm undoubtedly exaggerating the side-to-side swing in my hips while doing this, but I think that'll go away with practice. Bc this method really helped in two important ways. 1 - I felt my seat connect better with Isabel's rhythm; and 2 - 'counting' greatly reduced the noise in my brain and the sitting trot was suddenly WAY less distracting. Win!

turns out we can jump straight over the middle when i actually think about it
Then we jumped. Trainer P had whispered into Isabel's ears when we arrived, "Ok girl, I'm gonna finally give you something to JUMP today!," but I didn't think anything of it. Especially when the topic seemed to shift towards a heavier focus on flat work followed by more follow-the-leader through a grid.

It was a typical grid for us: vertical - one stride - vertical - one stride - oxer. But then P set up skinny barrels (pictured above) on the other long side and diagonal. FUN!! For someone notorious for drifting over fences, I LOVE skinnies :D   And Isabel was obviously eager for the challenge. Good mare.

seriously, could she be any cuter? 
And then.... P turned the barrel on the diagonal to its upright position, and added a second for a little extra width. And cue: absolute panic. I seriously thought I was gonna barf up everything I'd eaten in the past 5 years... Sure, P was very nonchalant about the height, saying they're really only just a hair under 3'.... But omg whaaaaaaaat noooooooo.

game mare is game
We did it tho! Started with the grid (which was also raised accordingly), then the other barrel, then up the diagonal over the barrels...

Isabel had a really lovely canter going. Really, through this whole ride she moved very nicely into the bridle and in front of my leg. Starting from walk, to trot, to canter, she stayed very soft to my hands - which then translates directly to getting that great jumping canter from which the distances are always just *right there.*

Tho on this first attempt, while I liked the distance and the canter, it was perhaps a smidgen tight and we knocked the barrels pretty hard.

"oh shit oh god oh shit i'm gonna barf" - emma
"geeez chill out crazy lady, we totes got this!" - best pony in the whole world evar
So we tried again. And I was terrified that I would give her a bad ride and she'd refuse after having already had the one good knock. Well, really I was just terrified. Haha. Ya know.

FLYING
But it was totally fine! Isabel was right up in the bridle and we saw a forward spot and took it. What a rush!!! Yay Isabel!!!!!


And honestly there's not really a whole lot I can realistically make better at this point. I'm pumping with my body on approach (but not as much with my hands - a definite improvement!) and am slightly defensive position-wise, but eh. Improvements are happening with time and practice. Meanwhile Isabel clearly does not feel impeded!

pony has always had a thing for barrels. she likes to bite them.
So... yea maybe it's kinda silly to get so excited about it. But yet, here I am, super excited. Brita and I got drinks after and much exchanging of high fives was had. Bc damn, we felt good.

dreaming for a day when that snow-covered arena visible beyond the fence line is rideable again!
There will undoubtedly be jump schools in the future where things won't go so well - we will struggle, I will ride poorly, Isabel won't always save my ass when I put her in a bad spot. That's just the nature of riding in partnership. Peaks and valleys, y'all.

So I choose to heartily enjoy and celebrate the peaks, in hopes that those feelings of joy and accomplishment bolster me through the rougher patches.

80 comments:

  1. Fun! Great accomplishment. One of many to come I'm sure. You both looked great in the clip.

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    1. thank you! she felt ready for anything lol

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  2. Daaaamnnnn, pony was flying!!!

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  3. That is so awesome!!! And I'm not sure Izzy can be more adorable.

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    1. ha i don't think so either. she could surprise us tho lol ;)

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  4. GO YOU!!!! That would be huge cause for celebration for me too - I don't know what it is about barrels on their end, but they're always freaked me out. Izy is such a champ!

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    1. thank you! and idk what it is about barrels either... but this definitely felt different from an equivalently sized normal jump haha

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  5. It's impressive to me. From where I am, 3' looks impossibly far away from 2'3"... but you guys do it, so maybe someday I will too. :) (How tall is she? I'm curious...)

    Also, yes, she is extremely cute. :) Like I scroll down the page and I'm looking at the pictures going "Damn, that's a cute mare" and then your commentary is "Dis Mare So Cute" (I am paraphrasing). Can't argue with that. So go you!

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    1. trust me - that was exactly my perspective precisely one year ago (seriously, check the archives haha) - 2'3" was my happy comfortable place and anything higher was... blargh, no thank you. things change tho :)

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    2. oh, also she's 14.3.... small but mighty

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  6. Replies
    1. ha i need to get izzy a leather jacket and some dark aviator shades haha

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  7. I'm continually impressed with the springs that reside in Isabel's feet.

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  8. Upright barrels are scary! I hated them. Kudos for springing over them!

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    1. thanks - i've always thought they looked like awesome fun... for other people haha, and was def not so sure i wanted to try myself. izzy did tho!

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  9. That is AWESOME! It makes me pee my pants a little but SO AWESOME ERMERGERD!!!

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    1. ha it makes me pee my pants a little toooooo lol :D

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  10. Dude! So awesome! You guys are so badass!

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    1. thanks! i'm just along for the ride, but oh boy is it fun! ;P

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  11. H3LL to the YEAH you should celebrate that! Way to go, and high fives all around!!!! :D

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    1. thanks!!!! i just love having fun with this little mare :D

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  12. Holy crap!! So happy for you! I seriously think you and Izzy both deserve a couple of laurel wreaths, haha!

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    1. ha thanks - she might agree with you ;P

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  13. Congrats!! You both look awesome!

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    1. aw thanks! not sure i want to do it again any time soon, but it was fun!

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  14. oh AWESOME!! she looks great over that and you do too.

    it's okay when youre coming to something scary and new to be defensive. i'd judge you more if you weren't ;)

    well done!

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    1. ha thanks! and eventers love the back seat for a reason!! plus i'm always paranoid that my overly-noisy upper body throws petite izzy off balance - esp when i get ahead of her...

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    1. my thoughts exactly... mare didn't care tho, so we made it!

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  16. You guys are awesome!! Jealous of your fun jump school :)

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    1. ha i honestly didn't think we'd manage that kind of school in the tiny indoor. worked out tho!

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  17. Yahoooo!! That looks big and you totally did it like no big deal!

    Sounds like the whole lesson was a blast!!

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    1. such a blast! and really everything looks big in that indoor (esp when it's narrow...) lol

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    1. ha i seriously thought that was the plan at first and *freaked*... then she put the second one in there, which is maybe when i thought .... "ok i guess we can at least try..." lol

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  19. Way to go! Barrels are my favorite for practicing narrow stuff (or building big oxers)!

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    1. i love barrels on their sides and as fill for jumps (also on their sides tho, dammit) but this upright stuff... idk haha

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  20. A win is a win is a win :) Congrats!

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  21. Yeah I understand the barrels on end being so scary thing. I mean I've gone prelim and for some reason those darn barrels are legit scary. I do believe as soon as we have jumped a few more times after our winter break barrels on end are in Prisoner and I's future!

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    1. ooooh exciting! i think they're so scary bc of how upright they are? maybe? idk, my trainer put blocks in front of them this weekend (tho we opted out anyway) and they looked a bit nicer shape-wise... but still!

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  22. That's amazing. And she's such an eager, happy little mare!

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    1. i love it when she feels that good about jumping the jumps! definitely makes up for my moments of wussiness haha

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  23. Dude - jumping an upright barrel IS badass. I totally give you props on this. I'd have actually peed my pants and cried. ;)

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    1. i mean, that's pretty much what i wanted to do haha. and barf, def wanted to barf!

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  24. Congrats! Conquering the scary things is always the BEST!

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    1. thanks! i think you're right - jumping something that scares me (like rolltops!) is somehow so much more satisfying to me lol

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  25. Congrats! Conquering the scary things is always the BEST!

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  26. Barrels on end always freaked me out -- so vertical and so solid-looking! Well done. :)

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    1. omg so vertical... turns out they knock over fairly easily and without much issue, which was nice... but still. freaky indeed!

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  27. Awesome bad assery - woop woop!!!

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  28. You shouldn't knock your accomplishments! This is super awesome, regardless of whether it would be for someone else. You guys look great. :) Side note: Does she ever hit you with her tail flipping it around over jumps? Lol.

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    1. ha i never knock my own accomplishments lol. my point in acknowledging that it's not something everybody would deem an 'accomplishment' is essentially to say that there's never any sense in comparison bc what's big for me might be nothing to someone else, and conversely my 'nothing' might be huge for someone else too. so we should resist the temptation to compare and live more in the moment - celebrating each little win as it comes.

      and no - haha she's never gotten me with her tail yet... haha perhaps it's still ahead of us?!?

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  29. I would be barfing right there with you! But you did it! Nice job!

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    1. thank you! marestare gets all the credit :)

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  30. yaassss!!! I love the slow mo video!!!!! you all were stuck in the air for 2 whole seconds I swear!! very cool!!

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    1. hahaha it certainly felt that way!!

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  31. EMMA. OHMYGOD. You look AMAZING. What a team! #goals

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    1. ha thanks Liz! i bet Griffin would be alllllll over these barrels haha

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  32. Wow that's impressive. Way to jump the crap out of those barrels.

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