Thursday, April 7, 2016

doing it for me

I love this little equestrian blogging community for many, MANY reasons. Seriously. Just being able to participate in interesting conversations and interact with everyone has been rewarding in many unforeseen ways.

this is my horse. she is a very good horse.
But perhaps one of the biggest unanticipated assets of this group is the unique insights and observations everyone can bring to the table. We all really only know our own experiences - but by sharing these individual experiences, perhaps others can reap the same benefits or learn the same lessons or whatever.

she's kinda a badass horse too, eager to tackle new challenges
One recent post really struck me as I read it the Monday morning after my fairly demoralizing xc school at AOPF. Carleigh from A Yankee in Paris wrote about her first events of the season, and her thought processes behind choosing appropriate divisions for her horses.

Specifically, she wrote that her objective for the show was confidence building, NOT confidence proving. 

for instance, dropping down banks doesn't meet any hesitation 
For whatever reason, that really resonated with me. I ride and compete with Isabel because I love the thrill of it. I love the challenges, the partnership, seeing the progress as we work hard and invest in our shared education. And I love the rewards that come from galloping home across the finish line, bursting with pride and happiness.

she likes big jumps too
I do NOT love feeling constantly scared, or feeling pressure to do a thing because it's what we should be doing, or because it's what we've done before. I don't love the idea that progress is a one-way street - that every step back might be considered a 'set back.'

and real corners are just as fun as the faux variety
And, more than anything else, I do not love feeling like I'm doing something, anything, with horses to try to 'prove' anything to anyone other than myself. I want ride and compete horses for ME and my own personal enjoyment.

generally, tho, she's just a talented and very good horse
So. Back to that Monday morning, when I felt pretttttttty crappy from our recent schooling. And I could already feel the stress building in anticipation of this Sunday's event at Loch Moy, for which I entered the Novice division.

I read Carleigh's post and it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I emailed the show organizers (it just so happened to be closing day, conveniently), and asked that they switch me to BN. And immediately felt relieved. A little sad, yes, but mostly relieved.

she'll be ready and willing to get back asap, but she's just as happy to wait for me too :)
It's our first event of the season. Isabel is doing really well. Brita and Wick are doing really well. I'm still working through my demons, sure... but by dropping a level I can do my best to set us all up for success. And now I'm eagerly looking forward to the event, instead of experiencing any sinking feelings of dread or fear.

No pressure. It's supposed to be fun, right? We'll be back at novice soon - just gotta spend a little time rebuilding!

32 comments:

  1. A wise choice indeed! Have a blast this weekend!

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  2. The way I see it is as adult amateurs we should always be having fun. Some nerves are good, but I think so many of us (me especially) are over achievers and put so much pressure on ourselves that we forget it is a hobby and is supposed to be fun.

    Also, I think it is totally reasonable for you to run BN. You broke your freaking leg and had a huge chunk of time off. I know after I sprained my ankle it took months for me to feel confident and stop trying to compensate. And that was for a freaking sprain (a bad one I will admit, but still just a sprain).

    PS I love the rebuilding comment because it really isn't a step back. You guys rock and totally kick butt!

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  3. Amen!! confidence is so important...you do what you feel is right and what makes you feel GOOD. You know I have had my fair share of struggles with what we should be doing, but since coming over to the bright side with you and Brita there is just no other way! This is all supposed to be FUN!! Good luck this weekend! Ill be with you in spirit :)

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  4. You'll know when you are ready to bump back up. And there is nothing wrong with getting a confidence building run in. It'll be good for the both of you.

    I moved up to Novice in 2014. Did 2 events and some schooling shows, and the whole time I hated it. The move up was my idea, and my trainer never pushed, just supported. The whole time I was jumping at those events, I felt sick. And then when Duke got hurt, we lost the rest of the season.

    We came back out at BN last year for a variety of reasons. Mostly because we wanted to make sure he would hold up after his injury. He surpassed our expectations, and I had a REALLY FUN SEASON where I was not afraid or nervous at a single fence. Our last event of the season we did Novice again, and it was a totally different feeling. I wanted it. I was a bit nervous, but not the sick anxiety I felt before. THIS TIME I knew I was ready. I'm confident now when I can say that I'm looking to do a full season of Novice.

    So I guess what this VERY LONG (sorry!) post is to say is that you will know when it is time to move up again. And there is nothing wrong with taking your time and getting your confidence in yourself back on track with your confidence in your horse. You have to place as much trust in you as you do in her. And in the meantime, it's not a step back or downgrade or anything like that. It is doing what is right for you at the moment. It's not worth saying you are at a certain level if you are sick with fear.

    Have FUN this weekend! That's what it's all about!

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  5. Definitely both posts resonated with me. I feel like because Ramone is a project and for sale, I am under a lot of pressure to perform and get results (Which is laughable, I am not a professional, I am an amateur with very stretched time). I would have done things differently if I was planning on keeping him, I think I would have kept last year at 3'3" for a second year in the Pre-Green Division, and would have hit this year at 3'6" or next year. Things either work out or you get back to the drawing board for a bit, and there is nothing wrong with either.

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  6. It's so early in the season, there's no reason to risk damaging your confidence the first time out. Even Trainer's 4* horse steps down to Prelim or Intermediate after a break or at the start of the winter shows. Keep it fun, for both of you!

    Also, I love that pic of you guys jumping the corner.

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  7. It is all about fun! I think there is nothing wrong with dropping down. Shoot, upper level riders do it with horses all the time, right? Have a great time this weekend!

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  8. Such a good decision, I loved that post too. This needs to be all about the fun and improving...not proving.

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  9. Great decision! High five for keeping it fun :)

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  10. Thanks for pointing out that post - the bit about confidence building vs confidence proving really resonates with me too. <3 horse bloggers!!! I think you made a wise choice - a confidence building outing will set you guys up better for the whole season in the long run! Good luck this weekend :) I'll be thinking of you and cheering!

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  11. I LOVE THIS POST! And I think running BN at Loch Moy (which is nothing to scoff about) is admirable! It's going to be so great for you and Iz to get out there and have a confidence building ride! I think especially in eventing that feeling comfortable is really important at any level. There's nothing to be gained form being worried that you might be over-faced out on course:)

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  12. Great post! Do it for you. Good call to compete in something you are comfortable at and will have FUN doing.

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  13. I really wish this was an option for me. After all of the confidence lost this winter, I'd love a confidence building show where I wasn't as worried about the height of the fences.

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  14. 1) that corner pic is BAD ASS omg

    2) Totally. 100% agree. I'm here because I enjoy it and if I'm not having fun, something needs to change like right the hell now.

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  15. I so feel you on this one. Murray is more than physically capable of soaring over all the novice sized fences on course (I know cuz we did it), but mentally he needs the time at BN to learn to be confident out on XC without potentially scary shit terrifying him. And I need the time to learn how to comfort him on XC and keep him moving and confident so we don't spiral down into refusals and runouts and falls.

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  16. Really important concept and good decision-making! I ran Tuck pretty close to the limits of his physical ability and I'm positive that one of the reasons I got away with it was keeping his brain and confidence in good shape by not always asking for maximum effort every time out. Sometimes we moved up; other times it was easy and he got to feel like a rockstar. Same idea with the rider, too.

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  17. What a great post. I think you will be successful at whatever you attempt. It always feels like a race or competition with everyone and everything, and I struggle to remember that it is not. It is just fun with my pony.

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  18. Good plan. Enjoyment is more important than proving something.

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  19. I absolutely support your decision! I feel overfaced quite often (with horses, with work, with relationships), and you get that sinking-gut feeling. Sometimes it's best to push through the feeling (work), and sometimes it's best to go with your gut (relationships and horses for sure!). Like you said, you're supposed to be having fun. And there's no limit on enjoyment or timeline for progression for us ammys. Good luck this weekend!

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  20. You guys have nothing to prove to anyone. We all already know what bad asses you are. Go out and enjoy your first event of the season pressure-free!

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  21. Yes! Good plan. This is a move-up year for me too, but I'm starting off at the same level as last year and planning to move up after I get a few shows under my belt. Confidence building is definitely the name of the game!

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  22. I think that's really smart. Better that it feel too easy than be stressed out about it!

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  23. Awesome! I concur, I know a lot of eventers who step down at the first event of the season. You also have nothing to prove and shouldn't get bogged down by the "should be's" especially after your leg issues. Fingers crossed the show goes super well for you guys!

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  24. Love this post a hundred times over.
    Something I need to remember too.
    Good on you for doing what you need to do to have fun. You will gain a lot more in the long run by keeping things positive, and fun.

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  25. Do what feels right to you. If you're not feeling N, then do a confidence-building BN where you and the horse cross the finish all King of the World and stuff. Fingers crossed for a great first outing!

    My summer plans are coming along. I have a jumping clinic first Sunday in May, dressage clinic May 22, plus 3 days of (adult) horse camp in June. It's only as much stuff as one of your typical weekends, but... hey, I'm trying to get out and about.

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  26. WooHoo! First event of the season! Have fun and good luck!

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  27. i LOVEEEEE blogging because I love the people

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  28. What a great plan. It's so much better going into a show situation feeling more confident. Hope you have an amazing time! Luck!

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  29. Brill choice, horses are our hobby and meant to be fun. Have a ball at BN ☺

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  30. Great post and so true! This season is going to have fun written all over it! It has no other choice! :)

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