Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"not very committed"

Scheduling this week's Dan lesson got screwy bc of Seattle last week, his own competition schedule, and then ultimately losing my resolve after Jenny Camp. I waffled and wept, then texted asking to cancel at the eleventh hour. Basically saying I just didn't have it in me to keep trying yet.

Guys. That is hard for me to admit. And more than a little melodramatic. But it's the truth. So... yea.

Sad facts aside, he had already invited Kaitlyn to join the lesson and would therefore be driving the hour to the farm anyway. So he offered to school Isabel himself. It took a little more waffling on my part (selfishly, I just wanted approximately 357 more beers and a morning spent in a foggy stupor rather than facing the 7am lesson time...) but ultimately I accepted.

surprise, you're on candid camera!
This might not be obvious just by reading along, given the ridiculous number of lessons I take, but Isabel and I don't actually have trainers at our barn. There aren't pro riders, training rides are not a thing you can just tack onto the monthly board check.

Sure, I haul out to trainer P at OF and dressage trainer C at TM (we miss you C!!! and hope to see you soon!!), and trainer Dan hikes down to us from PA. And all of these trainers are qualified to school the horse, and would certainly bring her along better and faster than I can.

But generally we are a pretty teachable pair and are happy to muddle through at whatever speed it takes me to learn and apply. Isabel isn't complicated, and I work hard to study and understand and follow directions and learn from one lesson to the next. So none of these trainers have ever felt compelled to get on to solve a problem, or feel for themselves what might be happening.

This stopping thing tho... This is a new one for us. I'm undoubtedly part of the problem, and my will to carry on is flagging. I'm wilting a little (again with the melodrama, emma!). So a training ride sounded like a wise choice.

surreptitiously snapping pics from my lap while concentrating on the ride does not make for very nice composition...

Anyway. I don't exactly feel any more clarity after the watching the ride. But it was a useful exercise. Perhaps worth repeating. Maybe regularly. Idk. We will see. I have thinking to do.

Some details from the ride: 

Let's start with Question #1: The mare does not present as uncomfortable. It appears to be a training issue. Specifically, a flat work issue.

And Question #2: Yes she stopped with him too. Only once - and farther into the ride than I would have expected. But the same deal. A last minute decision that nobody sees coming. Despite being shaped into a perfect canter and piloted to a very precise distance to the fence.

Basically, Dan described her as "not very committed" to the fences. He didn't explicitly call her dishonest... but the implication was there in how he compared her to other horses he knew.

His action plan didn't deviate at all from what we've been working on in our lessons - only his application was better (read: professional). Essentially:

-   The mare must be in front of the leg.
-   But she does not accept or respect leg.
-   Every time he half halted, she would spit out the bit and drop her back.
-   She.... Well. She got taken to school for this.
-   Dan focused on straightness, and collecting the canter then riding forward.
-   He achieved a much higher degree of collection (obvi). It took work tho, and she still broke.
-   He also got after her every time she sucked back when he put his leg on. EVERY time.
-   Even including when he asked her to walk out of the arena to leave.
-   Vigilance is apparently the name of that game.

jumping jumps too

He jumped her from a very collected canter, and from a forward canter. From a deep spot and a long spot. All very precise tho.

Sickeningly precise ugh. Like - telling me about how she is so careful with her knees, so tidy up front, that I don't need to hold her off a deep distance. That I can keep riding her forward to the deep spot (meaning my entire body language needs to say forward, not just my legs).

And then naturally he just went and demonstrated it. Perfect close distance, with perfectly even strides in approach. Oh to be that accurate one day...

That's besides the point tho. Actually, I'm not even sure what the point is. He schooled the horse, and I think the horse learned a couple lessons.

It... did not necessarily look easy tho. It's possible that he was riding very strongly to give that mare a run for her money... but again it was all just the same things that I've been working on, that I've been trying so hard to master. But that I'm just not doing well enough.

this may not be the answer to all my questions, but.... oh who am i kidding, add a beer to the pic and who needs horses anyway?? 

So idk. I still feel incredibly demoralized. More than I've felt maybe... ever. It's ok tho. I'm one stubborn bitch, and ponies still make my heart go pitter patter. 

And luckily for Isabel, she may be putting me through the emotional wringer right now, but I'm not even close to being emotionally prepared to answer some of the questions that arise should I toy with imagining a horse world beyond her. 

The path forward remains unclear. All competitions are off the table for the foreseeable future (haha thanks captain obvious!). All pressure is off too. When even stonewall, deadpan Dan reminds you that it's supposed to be fun... well. It's maybe time to re-calibrate the parameters. 

67 comments:

  1. I have a friend who swears it's always better for the problem to be with the rider, because it's easier to fix the rider than the horse. But idk, i think the horse is a definite part of the problem here. I think the training ride with Dan fave you some great perspective to work with - hopefully it's just a phase and you work through it quickly!

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    1. yup - my thoughts exactly. rider problems are demoralizing in their own right... but at least we know we have control (sorta) over them! anyway, yea perspective is good for me right now.

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  2. Feeling like you can't ride your own horse sucks and wears on you quickly. I have no idea how many times I've been in tears because I can't give my horse the ride he wants/needs and it sucks. My only advice is to do something that will be fun and makes you happy. Remind yourself that this is supposed to be enjoyable because we spend way too much money not to be having fun.

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    1. agreed, it's definitely not the most pleasant sensation haha. but yup, fun is, and always will be, my number 1 priority!!

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  3. I'm sorry you are having such a rough patch :( I think sometimes though training rides can be helpful. Like you said, professionals can just be SO exact, so it can very directly explain to your horse what's up. Although I'm sure you're sad competitions are off the table for now, I hope the "no pressure" zone you're in can help you both! Times like these are always when I see people's skills and abilities really sharpen, so you will be a better rider for it!

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    1. oh he definitely told her EXACTLY what was up. and she did not likely. but she did it! and she is a smart cookie... it might not be that hard to convince her to be a little more forgiving towards me. maybe. haha. we will see. all the same, you're right - she's definitely asking me to up my game as a rider!

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  4. Isabel sounds like one of the ponies at the barn. He jumps everything, then decides he's stopping, right at the base, without notice. Trainer got on him and rode him in a similar manner as Dan did to Isabel. She said there was a dead feeling at the base of the jump (every time) that made her wonder about the pony's commitment to the fence. It took several training rides to make the situation good enough for the student to have a go at it. I'm so sorry this phase has popped up :( It sucks and it's difficult, but the "no pressure" zone might help! Do some fun things, because as EventingSaddlebredStyle said, this is supposed to be fun and it costs way too much to not be fun!

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    1. YES - that "dead feeling" at the jump - that is exactly it. and it is.... wow it is REALLY not a great feeling. such a bummer since it's such a departure to how she's always gone before... we will see tho. the 'no pressure' zone is essentially for my own benefit, not the mare's. at the end of the day, i need to be mentally and physically prepared to deal with this issue and ride the way she needs ridden. but first, i get to enjoy a little breathing room.

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  5. urf it sucks she even gave the pro a run for her money. at least you have something very clear and black and white to work on: when you put your leg on to say jump she should say how high (literally!). thats something you can do.

    you have a trailer though, try and do some other fun things off the farm. hunter paces, dressage shows. parades ;) i cant believe im going to say this but theres more to life than events.

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    1. haha yup i am 100% in the camp of doing all the things!!! and i promise there are FUN THINGS on our agenda coming up - even this coming weekend!

      events also mean a lot to me tho. i am more than willing to take a step back right now bc it is very clearly the absolute right thing to do. but moving forward, i want to return to competitions. and yes, i want to put my leg on and get a horse that answers by taking me to the jump.

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  6. I admire you for being so honest. Take a deep breath, you guys are going to be fine. You've got such a good group of pros in your corner. Connor isn't very committed to the fences either, it's a hard ride to have.

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    1. that's for sure - i am crazy grateful for feeling the support of so many friends and bloggers and riders and pros etc!! we will see what happens!

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  7. Training rides definitely help add perspective. It always made me feel better to see Pros (hey, it's their job, they've got to be much better than me) experience the same issues with Boca that I did. Yes, they can fix it better, faster, and more correctly than me. They should be able to do that. But it was affirming to see that the horse was essentially the same. (i.e. I was not the one causing the problem).

    It feels like such a radical departure from the game and willing Isabel I've been reading about for so long. :(
    I hope you can figure out what is going on.

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    1. thanks. it feels like a radical departure too. it started kinda slowly, almost without me realizing it... but suddenly here we are, and the horse that was galloping down to the fences, dragging me along with her, just last january is now sucking back and saying "NO." it's.... very curious. but also, like you say, somewhat perversely reassuring to see her be the same with a pro too..

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  8. You will get there, she is a great mare and with your honesty and willingness to try new things and work hard success will happen.

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    1. thank you!! that is my hope and i am trying to stay open minded!!

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  9. Training rides are so helpful, so glad Dan convinced you to have one. Kudos to him for schooling the mare hard and giving her some hard education over her behavior. Hopefully you can keep at it and the awesome-ness will return in no time. It sucks all around, I can understand the pain.

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    1. ha yea he didn't give an inch - and she threw pretty much every evasion she has his way. tough education for the princess!! i can't really have the same degree of discipline in my own riding (#adultammyproblems), but at least now i have a clearer picture of what that looks like!

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  10. At least you sort of have an answer and some agreement that it isnt a pain or discomfort thing. While training issues may be harder in some ways to resolve, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Chin up! You two got this.

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    1. thanks! it's cold comfort, but comfort all the same. answers are better than the alternative!

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  11. Dude, we are in a very similar spot right now. I have lost my mojo a bit while I am sorting out all the Riley's issues. I took all competitions off the table for a while too and I'm reinvesting my money in more training rides for him (over fences). I'll write a full post about it soon. Training rides are really valuable, especially when you tend to get inside your head (like I do). Let's you take a bit of a step back to breathe and figure things out. Hopefully, you can hop on another cool horse to jump some things and feel good while things get worked out with IZ!

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    1. Sorry you are dealing with this too... Hopefully both Riley and Isabel figure out which side their bread is buttered on asap!!

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    2. Aawww Niamh is in our club too.

      It's a shitty club but we have some great members.

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  12. I'm so sorry you're going through this :( I got some really great advice from a fellow blogger the other day, and thought I'd pass it along to you. Feel free to completely ignore it (maybe I'm totally overstepping my internet stranger allowances with this) so I apologize in advance if this is totally out of line.

    Our time is limited, in the days, weeks, months, years, even in our lifetime. I know I've wasted a lot of time on the wrong things before (I'd say in a lot of instances). I think one of the best lenses to inspect the NOW is referring to your past -- what has the last 6 months to a year been like?

    Again, apologies if that was totally uncalled for. But know you're not alone in all the feels, and if you ever need a sounding board, I'm here for you <3

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    1. No worries - any and all thoughts are welcome. Frankly the last six months to a year have been incredible. This horse is so fun to be around and ride - and I can do literally anything with her. Our dressage has been pretty damn competitive despite no lessons recently, and cross country has been a breeze. Trail riding and hacking out are always relaxing and refreshing experiences. But damn. We just can't make it through a course of stadium jumps lately. Like this one thing has suddenly broken.

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  13. HUGS. This is certainly a character-building experience, and you already know that I've been there, and it's incredibly shitty, but know that it's not a death knell for your jumping partnership with Isabel. It sounds like the trainer ride was a REALLY good call, and you ARE a stubborn bitch - exactly the kind of stubborn it takes to get through a rough spot like this. I have faith in you!

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    1. Ha yay, finally a time to let my stubborn bitchiness shine as an asset!! Character building is kinda the pits tho lol....

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  14. Um that burger looks amaaaaaazing.

    I'm sorry you're feeling like you're working hard but making no headway. That is my very least favorite feeling to have. But you have the right people on your side and you have a positive history with Isabel, and that will ultimately win out.

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    1. The burger was great. In fact there is still some for dinner!! And yea. The feeling of making no progress, or worse - going backwards - is pretty rotten.

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  15. B is the most random noncommittal horse I've ever ridden so I feel your pain. And I know what it feel like to not be able to ride your own horse. Back when Yanks was having issues other people got on and jumped him fine and I was devastated. B is terrible for everyone so at least theres that.

    Good luck to you. You got this, I know you do!

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    1. Yea I was honestly relieved when she stopped with Dan. That might be messed up but it is what it is.

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  16. That, like, the Good Morning Burger from the Simpsons ... I want it.

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    1. If you ever come to DC you can have it ;)

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  17. Gah. That is exceptionally frustrating, esp when she gave Dan a run for his money... Altho, I know it is shitty right now, but you two will come out of this 10x stronger and you WILL get back to doing awesome things. Sending so many hugs your way <3

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    1. Thanks girl! I wish we could just fast forward to the bit about being all stronger and better tho haha

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  18. I think the training ride was a great call. (And so was that burger between grilled cheese....wow, i'm starving all of a sudden). At least she was giving Dan the same issues, so it's not totally all you. Which is good and bad, I guess. It's just a frustrating all around, and I'm sorry you're going through it. I just got out of my frustrating rut with Cosmo (I hope), I feel your pain.
    And yeah, having a trainer who can decide to take the long or deep spot and make it look lovely is cool/inspiring/will I ever ride that well???

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    1. It's so good to read that things with Cosmo are getting better and better - proof that it will happen!!

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  19. Totally understand where you are coming from right now, hopefully time makes things a little clearer for you! I personally love training rides - it can be helpful to see that they will pull the same shit with a pro and for me at least, can be nice to take the pressure off of myself for fixing it.

    I have no idea what all is going on with that burger, but it looks like a problem solver to me too!

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    1. Solving problems with burgers just makes plain old sense ;)

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  20. So, I would focus on what he said needs to be fixed: that she needs to get in front of the leg. That sounds like a concrete skill that you can work on with her, whether jumps are involved or not. It always helps when we are feeling wilted and demoralized (you're not being overly dramatic here) to find something concrete that we can improve. Good luck. And hang in there.

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    1. Thank you! Getting her in front of the leg is something I plan to tackle with renewed vigor... Eventually. Right now I'm stewing a little bit bc literally every single ride has already BEEN focused on that. It's not a new idea. I have been trying already as hard as I can. But I apparently need to dig a little deeper. That's.... Frustrating.

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  21. I don't know what is happening with that burger but give me it. All of it. And a beer lol You'll get through this Emma, hang tight. It is all worth it in the end

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    1. Thanks - burgers for everybody!!!!

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  22. I need that burger in my life.

    It sounds like the training ride was the right call- Dan now has a better understanding of the issues, you got to see that she gave him problems, too, and now you know it's a training issue.

    This is so, so frustrating, and I hope you're able to work through it!

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    1. Yeah, I need that burger in my life too!!

      Emma I'm finding reading through this with your meticulous perspective incredibly interesting. I can't wait to keep learning more, though I'm obviously not wanting you to struggle. I just want to hear more from your precise perspective!

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    2. Thanks Stephanie. I'm not sure if Dan has a better sense of Isabel's issues or not - she pretty much went exactly the way he expected. I think the difference might be in how accountable he holds me now. How disciplined he expects me to be in really truly doing my part as a rider. We will see.

      And yes Nicole - you can definitely expect the meticulous nit picky details to continue coming. When all else fails, analyze the ever loving shit out of all the things, right?

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  23. Hang in there -- we're in your corner and hope you get this figured out. Also, since she totally did it with Dan, this is not something that's a "you" problem. You'll get it, I have faith!

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    1. Also, have you tried the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy? (It's a favorite of mine.) Very summer. Such lemon.

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    2. Thanks! That's the hope I guess! And yes I have had that Shandy - it's actually one of the very few fruity beers that I actually enjoy! Sounds pretty tasty right about now haha

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  24. Ugh. I know how you feel. For me the answer was more riding. For you, maybe a break? Maybe just some trail rides and trailering out for fun times. And if you just need someone to grab a beer with and complain about feeling down about horses, someone who can commiserate, well, I think you're close enough to me for a meet up so I would be more than happy to lend an ear :P

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    1. Thanks!! A meet up would be awesome! And we are definitely keeping on with the fun stuff. It's frustrating bc I think we already have a really good balance there. We hack out and trail ride usually no less than once every ten rides, recently more than that. She gets easy breezy conditioning rides in the hackamore. Focused flat schools. And jump schools. One of these things is not like the others tho.

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  25. That is an AWFULLY technical ride for an amateur friendly horse to need. I wouldn't say "it's all my fault" by any means here.

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    1. Thanks. It's hard to weigh that out in my mind, bc I question... Well. Everything right now. Esp given that this new technically demanding ride is such a vast departure from the previous forgiving and enthusiastic ride. Idk tho. It isn't very ammy friendly right now tho haha.

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  26. I know what you mean re: the Professional rides but uh is it so good and nice soemtimes to have someone more precise than you ride. A lot of times with stopping its really a game of applying the aids correctly at the absolute correct time. GM does this a lot in his clinic, spooky fence, tap of the whip. Block off their favorite side for evasion, never trust them.

    Also I ate my feelings yesterday, so I am in the eating the feelings boat too.

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    1. My feelings are often delicious hahaha. But yea - your point about the timing is well taken. Isabel very recently decided that she needs a very careful kind of ride and I am not that good at it. Maybe I can learn tho. Or maybe she will loosen up again.

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  27. Ugh, mares. I can empathize. I'm glad you got the chance for a pro ride to confirm what's going on with her. I know it sucks, but don't give up.

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    1. Thanks. Giving up definitely sounds easy haha. But I'm not there yet.

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  28. No useful tips to add, just wanted to say I know how it feels when a pro gets on and gives the perfect ride...and pony still stops and doesn't want to play. Demoralizing is right. Here's to persistence and hard work winning in the end:)

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    1. Thanks. It's reassuring to know so many folks have dealt with similar issues. It sucks. But at least we are not alone?

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  29. Ugh this is so frustrating, so sorry you're going through it :( the training ride sounds like it went well, even though it'd have been nice to have Dan fix the problem in one ride! I know what you mean about feeling reluctant to do training rides, I haven't had anyone do a training ride on TC and Rico only had one in the last four or five years that I owned him. It's hard to let go like that! But I'll be tossing TC in training this summer and trying to let go as best I can. Definitely a good idea to get help and keep having fun in other ways!

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  30. It's so SO frustrating when things aren't going the way you wish they would and are working so damn hard to achieve. We're all behind you!

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  31. So sorry you are going through this. It's so great that you were able to have Dan ride her. It sounds like it wasn't all the answers, but at least gave you more information. Hey, at the very least, Izzy is helping you become one heck of a rider. Hugs!

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  32. This is shity. I hate that you're feeling so demoralized. Hugs and fingers crossed things improve.

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  33. The fact that your heart still goes pitter patter about ponies is all that really matters in this time. Because that pitter patter is what's gonna pull through and spit you out on the other side! Hugs and I hope a magic space alien probes some commitment into Isabel STAT.

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  34. I'm so sorry you are going through this. Maybe having the pressure taken off can help it be fun again for both of you.

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