Thursday, June 1, 2017

behind every great show.....

.....Is a lesson that made us work our tails off. lol...

It's already well documented on this blog that I frequently struggle with nerves and confidence in jumping. That I tend to be a little conservative, and won't really make myself do "scary" stuff without a bit of prodding.

all pictures are from our last lesson before loch moy. also it was raining again. 
This is maybe a natural side effect of getting older. Or of having had a number of nasty falls in the past year. Or whatever. Idk. Mostly tho, for me? My sense of confidence and 'bravery' (for lack of a better term) is directly correlated to how strong I feel as a rider, and how often I get to practice.

we reintroduced charlie to grids - this time with more height and in closer proximity! look at that face tho!
Which.... might be the sole driving force behind why I don't give up, why I keep working and taking lessons and continuing to think about how to improve myself as a rider. The idea being, if I can make the whole jumping thing feel routine and mundane and normal again, then it starts feeling better and more fun as we go.

clever pone <3
The funny thing is, I got a little caught off guard with Charlie. Especially in the beginning. At first he just kinda just trotted everything, nbd, just the occasional biff, trip, or crash here and there. And when he finally figured out how to actually sort of "jump" a fence, it was a cause for major celebration. Our first few true canter jumps felt like the best thing in the world - and there was absolutely nothing 'nerve wracking' about any of it.

such a good boy at figuring things out
So what was the problem? Well I was reminded that even horses who begin jumping very quietly often don't stay dead quiet when they first learn just how fun jumping can be. And as soon as the horse started figuring out how to go forward to the jump and how to actually use his body, it became glaringly clear exactly how weak I'd grown as a rider in the approximately 8 months off from regular riding and jumping.

of course that doesn't mean that he doesn't sometimes explore alternative solutions lol
His inconsistent and increasingly less-quiet style of jumping combined with my rusty eye and defensive stance made for... lots of interesting moments haha. Whereas my confidence really very much prefers boring over interesting lol.


The only way to get back to 'boring' tho is through repetition, to just keep chippin away. Which I've been doing... but not without a somewhat childish penchant for whining to my trainer to keep the jumps small, or meekly declining to actually jump anything on various schooling outings with friends (despite, ya know, actually paying the schooling fee).

there was a fan jump on course at jenny camp for BN and above - so naturally trainer P built one for our lesson too. charlie no care.
I mean, let's be real, our first few actual xc lessons with trainer P, she basically had to tell me to quit my bitching and canter the damn fences. Even in the lesson from which all these pictures were taken, I asked trainer P if she was going to lower the grid from the height that everyone else did before I went through - to which she replied "I might. Or I might not. That's for me to decide!" (She did tho lol).

serious game faces on as we approach the grid
Slowly but surely, tho, we're getting back to my happy place. The place of predictable outcomes and reasonable expectations. Partly bc Charlie is leveling out a little bit and becoming more consistent. But actually, mostly bc I'm finally starting to catch up to him.

aaaaan even more trotting in the rain lol
My strength isn't exactly where I want it to be yet, but for all intents and purposes, I'm finally starting to feel like my riding is coming back a little bit. Slowwwwwly. But surely.

right-handed bending line from hell. started off innocently enough!
If I had to point to a moment in time where I felt the strongest as a rider (flaws 'n all, let's be real here), it would be right around the time this lesson video was taken. While it doesn't seem likely that I'll get back to that with anything short of two jump lessons a week (one of which with ye olde 'Squeeze & Hold!' Dan lol, alas logistics are still an issue there), at least I have some sort of benchmark to shoot for.

ended well too. just the stuff in the middle haha. sometimes it's a little messy!
And in the meantime, I'm also just plain old getting more used to Charlie and his way of going. How much leg to use and when. How to better plan out our turns and lines. How to get a half halt through. What pace we really need for covering which distances.


Actually - competing has maybe helped in a big way too. My brain operates in a funny way about assigned courses at events. Like, some of the 'bigger' fences from our courses so far this season? There's no way I would jump anything like that while schooling Charlie. Like that last bench on course at Jenny Camp was bigger than a jump I straight up noped at OF during a lesson. But, put it on my assigned course? And suddenly I'm stoic about it. Suddenly I'm all philosophical, like, "Well that jump is just gonna get jumped, now isn't it?"

So now we've gone out and jumped all this stuff that I would have whined and complained about in lessons (or just, ya know, plain old not done while out with friends) - and guess what? It's all been fine. Totally fine.

So ya know. We're chippin away at it. I'm feeling pretty good about where we are with the horse's training. And with my own development. I'm still not quite the rider I was just a few short years ago... But maybe with Charlie, in time, I have the hopes of eventually growing into something more?

Have you had to deal with overcoming nerves? Or with trying to get yourself back 'up to code' while simultaneously trying to train a green horse? Do you have your own little mental games or tricks for pushing through the nerves? Or maybe you're like me and find a certain amount of zen in staring down something formidable and doing it anyway?

31 comments:

  1. That last paragraph really resonated with me. It's been my 2 years to be honest. But it's getting there. I am not jumping but I had to steady my nerves when we would have 4-5 bolts per ride and other shenanigans.

    What I found is that when I feel the disconnect with the horse my nerves ramp up when I feel that we are connecting then it's easier to ride even when she's nervous. I'm not sure if that makes sense but it's around feeling that I am riding a 1100 pound animal that could care less that I'm up there.

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    1. yea i definitely don't feel like nerves are isolated to jumping for everyone - like you say, horses are big strong animals with a mind of their own. it's worth having a little healthy respect for the situation! i know what you mean about that 'disconnect' too. it's not a good feeling!

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  2. OMG this whole post i want to hug it to me and hold onto it! How did you get in my head girl?? LOL (You know as we have emailed a bit about nerves!). Poor Sally is always pushing me over bigger and better stuff and I am always like no please no. (I end up doing it but still). Our trainers, it is good they get money to put up with us!

    I have to say it has to be a bit of me getting older (and creakier) as even a couple years ago i had more nerve. I think I realize Remus is never going to jump Novice (Duh). We jump mostly intro with the BN jumps Sally can throw at me or raise in the ring when I am not looking. I want to be braver. But it just aint happening.

    But wow look at Charlie go. See you are brave and bold. :) I do think it is funny how we will jump stuff at events we would never jump at home. Something about seat of our pants let's go!!

    I have really been dithering on my state of mind and nerves. I love this post and will reread it after more coffee but thanks! (PS I still looooooooooooooove Charlie, what a guy! So willing) :)


    oh and ick the rain. I can feel how wet you were in that lesson just by watching you jump. ICK Hate that :)

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    1. ha yea i always joke with my trainers that they're guaranteed a good paying job while i'm around haha - i need all the help i can get, including, apparently, relearning the same lessons over and over again! it is what it is tho, right? so long as we're enjoying it, it almost doesn't even matter what level we do. i think my favorite thing about horses is that we can all have very different goals that are fulfilled in very different ways - and that's always jusssst fine.

      also. yea. i haven't been as soaked as i was in that lesson above in a LONG TIME. frankly i'm impressed my cellphone even survived the day in my pocket bc literally every single garment was full saturated with water, ugh

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  3. Staring it down and giving it a go anyway has evolved into a norm for me with so many aspects of my life. With jumping, I know Griffin is to a point where he knows the job; he is pretty damn reliable as long as I'm supportive, which helps me power through sketchy moments. Also, knowing I've ridden through worse crap and stayed on helps me reason with my fear enough to realize that even if things don't go perfectly the chances of getting hurt and dying are minimal to nonexistent. As someone who has a personality that centers around feeling secure/safe, recognizing that I'm going to be okay makes all the difference in my ability to conquer "scary" moments. ("Scary" because let's face it, they aren't usually but Illogical Brain is illogical!)

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    1. ugh illogical brains, irrational fears.... so annoying! but yea i'm right there with ya. i spend a LOT of time reminding myself that i *will* be ok, and that i *can* do it, and that, in fact, we've done it before and it's all gonna be fine. taking it slow and purposeful really helps solidify that foundation too - like with Grif, Charlie's got enough of a baseline now to carry us through sketchier moments at this level. it's reassuring!

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  4. I had zeronriding fear until I met Gem. Then it was game on :) I'm an odd bird though and it's been that way forever even when I was doing competitive whitewater slalom. If someone, even a coach/trainer I fully trust, tries to push me too far or hard I just shut down. I can only move up when I'm in Byron of it and ready. There aren't lots of times I won't do something with someone pushing me to but then the next time I'm alone I'll go for it. I told you I was odd :)

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    1. yea i mean, for me? the idea of a trainer i "fully trust" pushing me "too hard or far" is incongruous - they can't be both at once, at least not for how i define my trust in my trainer. bc i simply will not ride with someone who pushes me beyond where i feel i can be successful and/or safe. bc i've worked way too damn hard to build my confidence and skill set and refuse to ride with anybody who would risk undermining that lol. whereas, with my chosen trainers, i fully trust them in that when they tell me to do something that i'm not fully sold on.... i know it's bc they know i can do it. that we'll be fine. bc i've built trust in them over time to operate in my best interests.

      so... yea long story short haha i totally understand shutting down in the face of overbearing pressure, and would much rather go off and do things at my own slow speed than deal with that. luckily i've got some trainers who can meet me in the middle!

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  5. Exactly this. Never had I ever jumped 2'6" with Savvy--until our first derby, of course. If my coach had put jumps any higher than 2' in lessons I would have certainly laughed/cried/left the arena.

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    1. isn't it freakin crazy how that works? like, it blows my mind every time - but yet it keeps happening. and i *know* it when i walk the courses. like, 'hm yup i would never jump that in schooling right now. but i guess we're gonna jump it today!'

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  6. You know I'm a card-carrying member of this club! I also have a weird hang-up about what jumps are "allowed" or "appropriate" for me to jump. Like. There is one jump at the horse park that is legit no bigger than BN size, not a crazy technical approach, but it's always flagged N, and so it FREAKS ME THE HELL OUT. Because that's "above my level". So weird. But generally, if my trainer tells me to do a thing, I do the thing even though I might feel like passing out or vomiting. Because if she says so then it's "allowed" and "OK". Same with bigger fences on course at shows - well it's for my level so it must be all good and fine for me to jump this! But doing it on my own takes a lot of careful building-up of the mojo over smaller stuff first until I'm 99% sure I can do it. Ugh. brains.

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    1. ha yea, i definitely know what you mean about "allowed" jumps. that's maybe why i'm totally on board if it's flagged for my course, but way more leery if it's just.... existing during a schooling outing haha.

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  7. "Well that jump is just gonna get jumped, now isn't it?" This is the best line of the entire post. YES! Funny how in competition we put our game face on and just go "Okay, we are just doing this dammitall!"

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    1. i know, right??? i wish i could bottle that feeling up and access it any old day, not just show day!

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  8. It's always difficult to come back to where you were before. And always funny when you just have that "what was the big deal" moment when you get there.

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    1. ugh yea, so true. tho at least by now, i've kinda gone up and down this roller coaster so many times - and have documented it fairly honestly over the past couple years - that it doesn't really feel like a 'big deal.' i know what it is. i know if i'm patient, it'll get better. i know that it's ok to take my time now, and that i won't regret my decisions. but that we'll still get where i want to go. it's just... ugh. it's just a thing. ya know?

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  9. I need to take lessons or I will almost never try anything new. Sounds like you and Charlie have a great support system in place :)

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    1. lessons are definitely great for expanding our horizons!!!

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  10. Haha I have written entire post series on this very topic and it's definitely something I'm thinking hard about right now as I consider the future. I don't like being scared and at this point in my riding career, I am not the bravest, particularly about things that could get me hurt. You say chicken, I say practical. Getting hurt is expensive. And it hurts.

    But you and Charles are great together and I love following your adventures. :-)

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    1. yea i mean, i'm basically aggressively practical haha. almost to a fault. i see no value in upending all these risk propositions that i've so carefully constructed lol. and honestly? that's ok. plenty of people live by different credos and do perfectly fine. for me? i'm cool with doing whatever i gotta do to continue having fun and feeling good. i sincerely hope that you can find a path forward that works similarly well for your purposes!

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  11. The whole confidence over fences thing is my ongoing struggle. Like you, the more competent I feel as a rider, the better it is. Left to my own devices, I probably wouldn't jump at all, even tho it's fun I need someone pushing me

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    1. i honestly think it's an ongoing struggle for most adults. who knows why. tho for me, feeling 'competent' is not sufficient. i feel just as knowledgeable about jumping as i did when izzy and i were making pretty good work of schooling novice. for me, that knowledge *must* be backed up by physical ability. it's not enough for me to *know* a thing, i must also be able to *execute* it in order to feel really confident. annoying lol, bc it requires constant practice.

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  12. WOW hes really coming along!!!

    i figured he'd spice up. don't worry, once he realizes youre not going to STOP jumping him he'll come back down to earth. I bet its nice not to be afraid hes going to flop on his face at all the jumps anymore. his expression is darling. gah i'm so proud of you you've done such a great job with him

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    1. thanks! it's really in the past couple weeks that we've smoothed out to a slightly better way of going - both by him becoming more consistent and by me getting used to him. like the jump lesson above is kinda messy, but showed some of his best efforts. and the stadium from this past weekend at loch moy? i couldn't be happier!

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  13. Oh man I can't wait for you to start taking regular lessons with Dan again!

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    1. unfortunately logistics continue to be an issue there :(

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  14. I completely know how you feel. I haven't truly jumped in 12 years. I've been riding, but this is a whole new ball-game. I'm petrified that I'm not going to be strong enough to help Amber or that she'll trust me and my judgment is poor whether it be striding or something else. I want to take lessons on an old school horse to get confidence back but I have a feeling my wallet will protest. We'll see how it all goes. On a happier note, Charlie looks awesome!!

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  15. I definitely think of jumps as being way bigger than they are and not wanting to do them. I used to do 4' jumpers in HS, but that bravery is totally gone. Now i'm like, oh it's 2'6", that's big.

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  16. Ugh, fear. Ugh. So many fear. But, I try pretty hard to stretch my boundaries. Riding along the road - scary. So I do it anyway and after about six white-knuckle outings during which Nothing Bad Happens because in all honesty these are very quiet back roads with minimal traffic and da Bird is a good boy, it becomes NBD. I can't find a way to get to the NBD without the white-knuckle outings, but I do eventually get there.

    Cantering into fences is omg scary until we do it (a) at the hunter paces (b) at lesson in nice big roomy ring (c) over and over and over in the hayfield at home until it is no longer frantic. And then it's ok. It sucks for a while, but then it gets better.

    Riding the oh-so-green horse out and about (currently Zipper) is scary until he's mostly-broke and I kind of know where his head is at. Then it's NBD.

    Bareback practice days (yeah, I used to ride bareback all the time because I was too lazy to saddle the horse but now it's on the schedule) are omg scary because we do all the stuff -- trot and canter and leads and so forth -- and it is scary but I haven't fallen off yet. I expect it will eventually get unscary but it hasn't yet. I remain hopeful.

    I'm 47 and creeping middle age means things are scarier than they used to be. There are many women my age who are not comfortable doing the things I can do on my horse. It could be better and I am working towards that, but it could be way worse, too.

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  17. There is definitely a difference in the way you rode Isabel in the link you put in the post and the way you ride Charlie. However, Isabel was more schooled and further along, whereas Charlie is just learning. Plus he's yours and that totally makes a difference.

    I find that I ride other horses less gingerly than I ride P. I get offended by P and I'm quick to back off of him when he acts up. While I don't ride other horses too often, if one of them stops or acts up or whatever, I'm much more firm with them. I'm trying to carry it over, but it's HARD, yo.

    Also with ya on I'll do whatever at shows, but school? Nah. I have yet to school P over a true course at home, but put me in a lesson with B or at a show? All over it. The mind...it's a strange thing sometimes!

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  18. I stare down the jumps like they're going to pop up and bite us. It's time to start looking beyond the jumps and just ride the flat, right? We're starting our jump lessons this month. It's going to be an adventure!

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