Monday, April 4, 2016

xc schooling extravaganza (with practically no media)

Ok so when I say "practically no media" what I really mean is no real action shots of Ms Isabel doin' her thang. Obviously I'm nearly constantly snapping pics, plus I had my handy dandy cell phone in my pocket for the full schooling sesh and snapped a couple shots (and videos) of Brita and Wick.

fat cat says she needs a few more trot sets before she can come schooling with us
So you might wonder why I never asked anybody to snap videos of us, right? Fair question. Easy answer too: I was way too scared shitless to even consider jinxing myself. My mental state required that I just stay focused on the task at hand. Badass photographic evidence be damned.

the spring growth doesn't look all that much different from last fall
That's clearly quite the departure for my typical media junkie self... but it is what it is, and I made the decisions that seemed most likely to let me ride my best without any additional pressure. Hopefully you'll forgive me!

in fact, the previous pic looks almost identical to last time we were out in this field - when i hacked Bali out approx ~15min before breaking my leg. womp womp.
Hopefully you'll also take my word for the description of the ride. Because. It was AWESOME. I mean, I didn't feel awesome at all, and my heart was in my throat right up until the moment trainer P declared us finished. But that's ok, that's just how it is for now. We are working through it.

This lesson was the perfect opportunity too - just three of us, plus trainer P. I told her right off the bat about my recently renewed 'fraidy cat status and she kinda just laughed me off. Which is good. She doesn't take me nearly as seriously as I take myself, which in turn helps me take myself less seriously. Which then makes it easier to worry less and enjoy more. Seems simple enough, right?

izzy wasn't the smallest horse out there for once!
Anyway. We started warming up over some logs we've jumped zillions of times. The ground was a bit soft from recent rain, so trainer P encouraged us to be very economical in our efforts: "get it right the first time because we're not going to do lots of repetition over the same tracks."

This also meant she wanted to move us right on along to appropriately sized obstacles... But admittedly I demurred and asked to start with a smaller log first. Points for consistency, right? Didn't matter tho. Isabel was ON. She had warmed up very nicely and settled perfectly into a forward rhythm to the little logs. Good mare.

wick + water drop
Then we headed straight to the water complex. OF really has the loveliest water - surrounded as it is by banks. We went up and down and all around here quite a bit. Only moment that could conceivably be considered an oopsie was when we cantered through the water up a bank and Isabel enthusiastically left a stride out. 'Twas obviously fine tho.

We trotted and cantered down banks into the water too. Isabel's never really shown any issues with down banks and I FOR ONCE remembered to slip my reins. Points for remembering how to actually ride the way I've been taught even when I'm scared? Sure beats letting the fear paralyze me...

Anyways, I was super proud of Izzy for constantly landing and hunting for the next fence. So even if our schooling at AOPF last week was kinda easy on the height (and a bit of a bust with the fall), at least the coursework we did then translated beautifully to this ride. Isabel was locking onto anything that crossed her horizon lol.

ditches eat horses yo. better jump extra high!
Anyways, we all headed up more or less single file to canter up hill over a log from last year's novice course. Oddly, most riders seem to dislike jumping downhill, whereas I strongly dislike jumping UPHILL. I worry about running out of gas or being underpowered. Which, uh, we totally were to the fence. But Izzy jumped it nicely out of stride anyway. Good mare.

Then over to the ditches for a quick school. Isabel and I didn't spend much time here since she schooled the ditches so well last week. Just a quick couple passes then done. She was obvi fine.

used to be a training log before the rest of it collapsed lol
Then back over another couple logs, including the skinny former-training (but now not really that big) log with a drop on landing going straight down hill. Idk why, but drops and downhills don't worry me. Maybe it's bc Isabel is good on her feet? Or bc the brakes are so reliable? Whatever the case, she jumped the log easily and bounded down hill ready for whatever came her way.

another horse does her best to dwarf this cute cabin. i promise it's legit novice tho
To round out the ride, we headed up to the back field to catch a couple more jumps from last year's novice course. Including the cabin above. And again I was pretty nervous (seriously not kidding about being scared the entire ride, despite Isabel being incredible).

But again I was pleased to find that I still made good (for me) riding decisions when needed. We reached the cabin nicely tho I still took care to close my leg and commit to the fence. Probably mare would have jumped anyway (#gamemaredontcare!) but it somehow felt reassuring to feel like I was actively participating in the ride.

finally smiling bc i know we're done for the day
Which is a good thing, bc I needed all the reassurance I could get when P directed us to the brush fence. Fun fact: Brita and I jump judged this fence at last year's recognized event (it was shared between novice and training), and were both astounded by its size. And yet, not a single horse had an issue here. Not one penalty.

As trainer P said - the structure of the jump itself isn't particularly large. And horses love brush. Turns out she was right.

I honestly considered bowing out, but my life coach Brita put on her teacher voice and told me to get that shit done. Then I considered asking someone to take video (in case the coroner needed evidence or something) but felt it would be like tempting fate. So. Sorry guys. No video for you.

It was fine tho. Isabel got there beautifully, if ever so slightly deep. Nbd tho, she just added a little extra loft to her jump and sailed over - happily locking onto some logs off in the distance haha.

seriously a very good horse
So yea. Everything about the ride was really really positive. The worst that could be said about it was the bit about Isabel leaving a stride out jumping up the bank out of the water. While, yes, that's a technical detail that requires some finessing... I'm cool with that being our biggest boo boo of the day.

And sure, I felt like crap the entire ride. Like, physically ill at times. But it didn't impede my ability to actually ride the horse to the best of my education. That feels promising. Last time I struggled so deeply with confidence, I was also simultaneously rusty at a very fundamental riding level. Tackling both those at once was challenging.

At least for now I can trust that my trainers have done their job in instilling good riding habits in me. And I can definitely trust the horse. The rest is coming slowly but surely.

45 comments:

  1. You guys are awesome! I kind of want to steal Brita to be my life coach. :)

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  2. oh man THAT was the brush jump?? it looks huge. brush always rides so well but it's so freaking intimidating.

    i feel you on the fear... but the more you go out successfully the better itll get!

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    1. Definitely intimidating haha but you're right - the more we can get out and do, the better

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  3. I think it's HUGE that you were able to ride well and make good choices while feeling terrified!! I'm still at the terror = inability to do anything but sit there like a blob stage. That's an awesome mental strength accomplishment!

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    1. Thanks I'm super relieved bc I've totally had that paralysis factor too. I think it helps that Izzy is so reliable tho!

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  4. so glad Isabelle was such a good girl!! Those rides hopefully help boost your confidence a bit!

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    1. Definitely - she's a very good mare ;)

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  5. Way to get it done! Riding through the fear is so hard. So impressed that you're able to make good decisions while doing it. I get grabby hands and noddle legs when I'm nervous.

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    1. My legs get overly locked rather than noodly, but the grabby hands struggle is REAL. We deal with that a lot more in stadium, where I'm a bit too influential with the mare. Out on xc somehow it's easier to let go for the forward ride

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  6. How did you feel in the K & M saddle out on XC? That brush fence is BADASS!

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    1. Thanks - and I bought the k and m saddle after getting home from schooling lol. #feelsgood (post probably to come)

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  7. Awesome!!! I remember reading a blog about the psychology of how adults learn (I think it was Bad Eventer but not 100% sure) and the basis of it was adults are scared and feel really emotional and it's about riding/doing what scares you so you can get through it and become better- so if it's true then I think you accomplished GREAT things during your lesson!!!! Woohoo!

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    1. I read that post too and actually wasn't totally sure I agree. Tho obvi I think there's great value in pushing our comfort zones while riding, I don't think it's a requirement to always be so uncomfortable to learn. Who knows tho. If it IS true then you are right : it was an educational ride haha!

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  8. Way to go out and do the job despite the fear. That's half the battle!

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    1. Thanks - it def feels good in retrospect haha

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  9. You are a total boss for getting out there and getting it done!

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    1. Now I just need someone out there all the time telling me to get my ass in gear lol

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  10. It's hard to ride through the fear sometimes so good job!

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    1. So hard omg. But thanks - it's usually worth the effort :)

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  11. I hate how non logical fear is, it always sneaks up on me. Congrats on riding through it though!

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    1. Sooooo not logical and irrational and all that nonsense. Ugh. It is what it is tho so I try to just acknowledge it and move on. Try. Haha.

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  12. Brave girl! Congrats on a productive lesson - so envious of the beautiful facilities there :)

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    1. Lolz brave is a generous word - I might call it "obedient" instead (since I just followed orders) but I'll take it :) and isn't it such a pretty farm?!?

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  13. OMG that brush would have scared the pants off me! GO YOU AND GO IZ!

    I am the same way about asking people to video/ getting off in the middle of a ride to set up my phone - I never feel like it goes quite as well after the camera is rolling!

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    1. Usually I don't mind the video at all - I kinda like it bc it simulates riding for a judge and I would rather it feel mundane or routine than a special case. But this time around .... Ehhhh it was just a step too far

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  14. As an adult, courage to keep going even if you are shaking in your boots is everything! You did great! And that brush jump gives me anxiety....seriously.

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    1. Thanks! The jump was def nerve wracking for me.... But not Izzy! And I guess at the end of the day all that matters is that she trusts me to stay with her over those types of efforts !

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  16. Woohoo!!! You jumped the things! Saturday was such a smooth ride for you guys (minus the nerves)! You just flowed!!! Awesome job Emma and Izzy!! :)

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    1. Thank you - and esp thank you for making us do the scary thing :D

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    1. Lolz Izzy gets all the credit!! ;P

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  18. Awesome!!! Sounds like a confidence building ride. And next time you're out there I bet you'll totally enjoy it!

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    1. Thanks I really hope you're right!

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  19. You should be super proud of everything you got done out there!

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    1. Thank you - yes I'm proud. Just wish it was easier to feel good in the moment. Soon soon!

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  21. So happy to hear it was a positive ride. I believe if I ever get back to doing cross country, I will fight the "I'm scared, I must ride in the fetal position" issue that I continue to have outside the ring.

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  22. Good on ya not letting the fear take over and ruin your day and/or decision making.
    You guys'll pick back up in no time, you have the trust and the training a bit more refreshing by doing and the nerves will recede again ☺

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