Tuesday, March 22, 2016

eventers ride in wintry mixes too

As hinted at yesterday, our little ship-in contingent of adult amateur eventers were mildly put to shame by the younger, more spry riders from OF this weekend. We arrived to the farm in the midst of rain and snow and temps hovering around the high 30s, and just automatically headed over to the indoor to start warming up ahead of the lesson.

"i disapprove of the general wetness" - isabel
So imagine our surprise when trainer P stuck her head in and chided us for it - saying everyone else was already up in the outdoor ready to ride. Haha, womp womp, I guess we went a little soft over the winter!

It was totally the better call tho. There were 9 riders in the lesson (I repeat: NINE crazy folk who braved the 20* drop in temps + precipitation for a jump lesson) working in three different height groups. The larger space of the outdoor was definitely more appropriate. Tho of course it also ended up being a nearly 2hr lesson due to the size and necessity of resetting all the jumps constantly. #totallyworthit

looking freaking adorable out of the grid
Anyways. Onto the lesson. Warm up was pleasant. Mare was sound and happy to move forward, and also happy to give a lead to lesson new-comer Krimpet (recall my friend's adorable black Welsh pony?) as she familiarized herself with the arena. We kept it pretty simple tho.

just out for an afternoon canter!
(plz to heels down, tho, emma!)
Jumping started with a very small trot jump to eventually build into an 18'-to-30' grid, vertical-oxer-oxer. I told trainer P about our recent issue of crashing into tiny fences, but that I thought we solved it via thrush treatment. This lesson reaffirmed that: Isabel never even considered stopping. Oooooh, except for that one time. Haha. Oops. I'll get there tho. (also it's in the video...)

isabel wants to eat these jumps for breakfast. fierce mare don't care
We continued the warm up over two diagonal lines, which I opted to ride off my eye vs asking trainer P for the measurements. Diagonal oxer to coop rode in a 5 somewhere between balancing and going - not quite a true 12' stride, tho (as evidenced by when we built it into the course and barely fit the 5 in... oops!).

a titch tight out of this line... good mare makes it work tho
Other diagonal skinny birch rode in a forward 6, which Isabel was quite happy to do every time. Fun fact: I've kinda obsessed over this skinny jump ever since its first appearance in the arena last summer (it apparently used to be a 12' jump but broke in half and was therefore repurposed as a skinny) but this was our first time jumping it. Fun!!

i LOVE this skinny birch jump!
The other outside line in the course was a bit shorter, so I DID ask trainer P for the measurements: 48' - either a very balanced 4 for us, or an open 3 strides. Naturally we went for the three, tho it still rode a tad long.

Other jumps on course included a single diagonal oxer with a barrel for fill and a single natural oxer. I got wayyyyyy too gung ho about the barrel jump - saw a flyer four strides out and gunned it... But it was still too long and then Isabel had no room left to adjust so we slid under it... Sorry mare, that was totally my bad! It was fine, tho, made it over no problem when I remember to, ya know, WAIT for the jump. Some lessons just don't stay learned, I guess...

cruisin over the final oxer <3
All was well tho. I mean, I was in a state of mild terror for most of the jumping. Somewhat inexplicable, really, since the jumps were all around 2'9" - theoretically a safe height for us. And Isabel was jumping beautifully and forward - happily taking me to the jump. My eye wasn't terrible either (barrel jump shenanigans aside).

"it's touching my eeeeeeeeears!!!!!!" - isabel >:(
It just is what it is tho. I haven't been jumping often, and that takes a toll on my confidence levels. Happily, tho, the fear didn't seem to affect my actual riding very much. My mistakes are the same as always, whether I feel on top of the world or like there's this hollow pit of doom inside my guts. So I just keep riding.

also - call me twisted if you want, but i kinda get a kick out of all the horses jolting alive at the sound of isabel sliding into the barrels (fence 4 in the video)

Oh, and shout-counting out loud haha. When all else fails, especially when I'm really nervous, shout-counting is the way to go. It forces me to breathe and communicates a rhythm to me and Isabel. Listen closely and maybe you'll hear it in the video lol.

more evidence of snow as Wick winds around his course.
lots of familiar ears in the foreground too. L to R: Tillie, Little Foot and Krimpet
So ya know. We jumped the jumps. And it was pretty ok. I liked how Isabel went for me, and felt pretty solid in the saddle, even if the video shows some things I'd like to fix. Namely: extreme tension in my shoulders/elbows/hands in the last few strides to the fence (attributable in part to nervousness) and lifting heels. All fixable in time.

sodden soggy mare
I think my confidence will recover in time too. Just needs moar practice, ya know? Our first event of the season is coming up on April 10, and I expressed my uncertainty about which division to enter to trainer P. She had zero hesitation in telling me to go novice tho. The event is at Loch Moy - a familiar and inviting setting for us - and the perfect venue for getting our sea legs back.

Hearing that from the trainer is always reassuring too. Now to practice practice practice!!! OH and maybe school xc too haha.

Do you have any little go-to tricks for quelling your nerves mid ride? Like shout-counting or whatever?

47 comments:

  1. Whenever I'm feeling the nerves, if possible, I play music, if not, I just play it in my head. Or pretend that my trainer's there yelling at me ;)

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    1. oddly enough, i pretty much never listen to music while riding...

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    2. When I was nervous riding Kika a few years back i rode the whole time listening to the radio on my mp3. It kept me out of my head and meant I couldn't hear whatever sounds she was pretending to spook at. Made for a more relaxed ride from me which took away the reactions from K so she had to settle lolz.
      If no one else is riding or of there aren't lessons in the arena I'm riding in i put on the radio as my mp3 broke and my phone stupidly doesn't have a radio app :-(

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  2. I tend to do a lot of breathing techniques. Deep breathing. Inhale for 4 or 6 or 8, hold for 3, exhale for 2 or 4 or 6 respectively to the inhale. I've got RIDICULOUS nerves AND a tremor which rears its ugly head more when I'm nervous...which leads to me being self-conscious. So yeah. It's breathing and mind tricks for me...and sometimes prescription meds for the tremor!

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    1. deep breathing definitely never hurts! it's a little tough in the middle of a course tho... le sigh.

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  3. Deep breaths and rolling my shoulders. It breaks up the spots I like to hold tension. Also riding Stinker...you have to let go of nerves or else the wheels will come off. He basically goes you are freaking out and it freaks me out. I also like nursery rhymes because there is always one that is the right tempo and I do better with that than just counting.

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    1. lol i sang nursery rhymes to isabel our first time xc schooling when i couldn't get her into the water.... ahh memories!

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  4. Eff. That. Noise. Snow falling from the sky constitutes a state of emergency.

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    1. i'd bet good money that you would still compete at coconino in similar conditions, should that be the case (tho is that ever the case in arizona? lol)

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    2. Only because it's a 16 hour drive lol

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  5. That snow makes for great pictures! You guys look so bold and awesome! Singing a familiar song out loud keeps me breathing and prevents overthinking!

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    1. ha izzy was definitely wearing her game face :D

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  6. Ha you guys are hardcore! Even I draw the line at sleet... that cold and wet is just miserable and probably didn't help your muscle tension! I try to give myself a little mantra to repeat in rhythm with the canter to help focus my brain on what I need to be doing instead of letting my imagination run wild. Even if it's just "straight, straight, straight" it keeps me from envisioning a violent death!

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    1. lolz you might be right about the cold adding to the trouble - i could barely hold my reins by the end of it, my hands were so frozen!

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  7. I'm glad it went so well! I have nerves, but at the moment instructor wants to fix the pinched knee issue so I only get one stirrup at a time. *sigh* As a result, I am far too busy balancing and riding to worry about nerves... maybe that is part of her evil plan?

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    1. ooooh haha tricksy clever instructor! that definitely sounds, erm, distracting haha. i need to fix my pinched knees too (see: lifted heels), it's just such a hard habit to break!

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  8. Shout-counting for the win! (It's totally my go to as well)

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    1. ha i <3 counting. i'm pretty much always counting internally, always and forever no matter the situation. but when things get hairy? i get LOUD lol

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  9. I'm going to pretend that is snow falling in the birch jump picture and proclaim it magical! And hey, warm up wherever you can! Most of the older adults at the barn warm up in the indoor ring even when it's gorgeous outside. I warm up wherever there is the least amount of people.

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    1. ha no need to pretend - that is literally honest-to-god snow falling on the birches haha. still not convinced it was magical tho ;)

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  10. THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS WEATHER

    but seriously she is so cute

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    1. i <3 this horse!! the weather tho... not so much lol

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  11. Sounds fun and productive. Even having to desk with the less than ideal conditions above is great practice. I am a breath holder too. I talk to my self or my horse in rhythm with counting but instead of numbers i say things relevant. Typically repeating the samee phrase to keep my mind on what to focus on. Example would be if the last jump I didn't have my heels down. In time I will repeat heels, down, sit up, eyes up. If I'm struggling with rushing then I'll simply repeat wait, wait wait wait. If everything is going well then I will say, good boy, good boy good boy. It's like killing 3 birds with one stone. Keeps me breathing, keeps my rythm and helps me ride better.

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    1. I need to proof read. Sheesh

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    2. yea i'm a big believer that we riders should school in bad weather if we would still ride in it on show day. and i'm definitely not scratching bc of a little rain when the ground is still good so... yea. we suck it up and ride.

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  12. yeah i grumpily had a snowy jump lesson this weekend as well. as soon as i was jumping I didn't notice how cold and windy it was. funny how that works, huh?

    re: nerves, i am a big singer. i usually have a little song in my head all the time anyway but when im VERY nervous i sing my ABC's. out loud. loudly.

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    1. honestly sometimes i think getting LOUD is the only option haha, it drowns out everything else ;)

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  13. Adventurous! I do not like riding in wet weather

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    1. given the choice i'd def take sunshine haha

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  14. Ugh. I've been suffering from the mild terror during jump schools lately too. It's awful! I have no tricks. You just gotta keep going.

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  15. Counting strides aloud totally works. My only problem was that I could only ever count to two. WTF?

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    1. lolz i pretty much only get to 2 too ....

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  16. Vodka coolers. Or wine. (not really mid-ride friendly though, unless you get one of those helmet drink holders with a straw).

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    1. omg. i think i neeeeeed that tho hahahaha

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  17. My coach makes me count, one two, one two, one two, which helps me, and currently gives me a free pass to just count and ride that pace anywhere near a jump and think of nothing else. The corners are where I get reminded about my heels, shoulders, whatever. She also reminds me to breathe at regular intervals...which is surprisingly helpful ;)

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    1. yup - breathing definitely helps make everything better!!

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  18. Ah, what icky weather! I thought it was spring, damnit. You guys looked great. When I get tense, I try to shake my back loose in hopes that Bacon will loosen hers up a bit too.

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    1. it's apparently spring again now - i guess we just needed one (hopefully last) weekend of winter?

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  19. Love that ground covering canter!! You both look really competent and relaxed in the video. I definitely don't ride outside when the weather is like that. Here in Texas, some of us won't even drive in it. Lol.

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    1. thanks! i was thrilled with her forward canter in the lesson. probably i needed to push less for it, since we kinda ran past our spots a few times... but imo it beats the alternatives!

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  20. You are definitely braver than I for riding in the snowy wet!

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    1. ehh i'd really rather not, except that most events wouldn't have been canceled in this type of weather - so it's either compete in it or lose your entry. and if i'd compete in it, i ought to school in it too....

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  21. OH no to that weather. I am an adult ammy, therefore I pay for this privilege to ride, therefore I do not ride when it's freaking miserable outside. Logic.
    I was a super super nervous rider growing up and the fix to get me to breathe was to make me sing out loud. The habit's stuck and I end up talking to my horse or singing nearly constantly. If I'm really nervous (like I'd get riding the spooky grey Skylar last year), I have mantras I chant. Insanely cheesy, but hey, whatever works.

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    1. i'm definitely not too proud for anything cheesy if it works!!

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  22. I definitely am a shout counter too!! It makes all the difference for me :)

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