Friday, January 26, 2018

coming to an understanding

There's something I didn't really say out loud in recapping our recent cross country outing at Loch Moy (tho I mentioned it a little bit in the comments).

That write up was mostly a pretty detailed, cerebral summary of how the day unfolded, what we did and didn't do, what worked well, and what will need more attention going forward. In essence, it was my favorite type of ride recap: a full dissection of all the nitty gritties.

This style of writing helps me better understand what, exactly, happened. So that successes can be reproduced in future rides, and problems or mistakes can be more easily corrected or avoided. It's how my process-oriented brain works.

so freakin crazy about this sweet, kind gelding. thanks Austen for capturing these lovely photographs!
Often times, however, this thought process overlooks the core essence of a ride. Well, ok I don't entirely "overlook" the emotional aspect bc I do try to be very honest in recording my emotional state during a ride. Namely, did I feel confident? Or nervous? Or sick deep down in my squishy yellow belly? Was I bold in tackling new challenges or did I have to "make myself" do it?

But that's still kinda a superficial gloss over what's going on inside my head. Whether I admit it or not. And it wasn't until a day or two later that I realized something really important about this schooling ride.

This cross country schooling was fun. Obvi, right? But like, no really. FUN. Every single step of the ride. Every moment.

Not the kind of "fun" that you can't experience until you're already dismounting and taking a deep breath, having survived the experience and finally able to let your guard down. No no, fun in the moment, as it's happening. 


he may be spoiled, but he's just so pleasant to be around
And I realized, I'm not sure I've had Fun with a capital "F" in the act of schooling cross country since.... well, 2015, honestly.

Like, thinking back to that post I linked in my recap - where I talked about my pre-ride selfie back in early 2016 with Isabel. And how maybe my expression in that picture was an omen for the season to come (hint, it totally was). I was surprised to see how many folks clicked through that link - bc a ton of you did.

But when I went back to really re-read that 2016 post.... Well. All those sensations and memories came flooding back. Even then, I was already beginning to feel sadness at the loss of what had been Isabel's and my amazing journey into the world of eventing. Even tho we wouldn't officially call it quits until three months (and countless crashes and falls) later.

I still wish I better understood what happened. That whole "dissecting all the nitty gritties so mistakes and problems can be corrected or avoided in the future" thing.

Actually, this recent article by Sally Cousins was super thought provoking in that regard, as it describes the long term sustainability of different styles of jumping in a way I had never previously considered.

love his goofy faces too lol
Ultimately tho, I kinda just have to let it go. And it's been hard. My riding in a post-Isabel world was also replete with challenges, and I fell off no less than three other horses that summer. Each in painful and scary circumstances.

So when Charlie came onto the scene, he was almost automatically at a disadvantage. The only saving grace being his extreme greenness. We had all the time in the world to get to know each other in low pressure, low intensity settings while he learned to be a riding horse. With the idea being that, by the time he was ready to be introduced to the big bad world of cross country, for instance, I'd have already built up our trust bank a bit.

And this did prove to be true - I *knew* in my heart of hearts during Charlie's earliest schooling rides that he would be a good boy. I was still scared tho. More than scared - a nervous wreck. And I fully admit to pounding at least one (maybe two) alcoholic beverages before those first couple schoolings wherein Charlie tackled his first itsy bitsy logs and boxes and roll tops.

naturally Austen needed her quota of snuggles too!
Even as Charlie has advanced in his experience and schooling, it's been a struggle for me to keep up with him. Especially when he became more gung ho about this whole jumping thing before I felt quite up to snuff in the rider fitness department.

And as recently as this past December, I was writing about needing to address my mojo. Needing to push myself and challenge myself to get back to good in the saddle.

So it took a little while to sink in after the derby schooling at Loch Moy. But. Guys. What stands out the most to me in thinking back on the ride? There was nobody there holding my hand (I mean, Brita was there if I needed her, but we were both pretty fine to focus on our own rides and goals), no trainer giving me cover about which jumps to choose.

Just me, myself, and I. And Charlie. Being accountable for our own selves. Making choices. And making good choices. Picking out jumps bc they looked like fun, bc I had seen them in the past, maybe during a course walk while Charlie was laid up from surgery, and thought "I want to jump THAT." And then given the opportunity? I did, in fact, jump that. And it was good.

even Lyra got some snuffles too. or maybe she was just eating up his lunch crumbs haha
This might sound silly, or trivial. Or like I'm kinda voluntarily dragging myself along some sort of emotional roller coaster in assessing the nebulous, vague emotional implications of jumping my horse over BN jumps.

To me, tho? It feels a little bit like a dam breaking. Obviously confidence in riding is a fickle, changeable thing. It ebbs and flows, often for no logical or rational reason. And sometimes riding can be a slog. It's not easy, and bad things can happen even when you're trying your hardest.

But for right now, in this moment, I'm choosing to savor this feeling. And appreciate this special horse I've been lucky enough to ride, for being exactly what I need in an equine partner.

So here's to celebrating the small wins, and a future hopefully filled with many more FUN moments in the saddle with our horses!

35 comments:

  1. Awesome! Riding is so expensive, and time consuming, and often emotionally exhausting - the FUN is what makes it all worth it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. definitely! i don't mind some rough patches with the idea of future fun on the horizon.... but that fun needs to happen at some point!

      Delete
  2. I LOVE THIS SO SO SO MUCH. Hard fought, my friend. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hard fought for sure.... but so worth it! <3

      Delete
  3. Life is way too short to not have fun riding so I love your post! Thanks for sharing and here is to much much much more fun in your future. Love the photos too!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks i love these photos too! and yes to more fun coming up soon!! hopefully with group rides!!!!

      Delete
  4. I love this post, and identify with so much of it. I'm thrilled that you are at a place where you and Charlie can have FUN and make it all worth it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks! i think we all go through periods of.... less fun. it's just part of the process in this horsey lifestyle, i think. but the fun... we gotta celebrate it!

      Delete
  5. Thank you for being brave enough to write this. Carmen started at a disadvantage too and while the reason is different the impact is not. You worked hard to have that experience and I don’t mean just time in the saddle. Knowing the tiny bit I do about Isabelle and then the whole surgery thing I have admired your resilience. I love where you are starting this year. It has all the hallmarks of being a great year

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yea we all have our own individual reasons and histories and nagging demons.... but so often the presentation is the same: pushing through and hanging in there, hoping the pieces will all come together. it's been great watching that happen with Carmen too!

      Delete
  6. Oh man, I am right there with you on this post. I feel like I've gone through this in the past, and I'm going through it again right now. I'm looking forward to the day when I come back from jumping and it just... works. clicks. is FUN, with a capital "F," "U," "N!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES! like, conceptually we can know that "rome wasn't built in a day" or whatever.... but damn, laying each individual brick gets tiring sometimes! i hope you and your new boy start clicking into that fun zone soon too tho!!!

      Delete
  7. so happy to read this - and im so glad you're actually ENJOYING this crazy, expensive, heart rending thing we do.

    and i really look forward to the day - probably about a year and a half overdue - when we can take a picture together ON OUR HORSES at a show.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes!! that day where our giant ponies meet each other must happen soon! maybe may????? and yes, that enjoyment is what it's all about. like i'm cool with the rides where, once you're done it's easy to be like, "Ok that was actually fun" -- but fun in the actual moment is definitely great too!

      Delete
  8. Yes! I love this so much! Cheers to so much more fun.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ahhhhh, that is a feeling definitely worth savoring and holding onto. So much of riding is a mental game but also it should be FUN! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man it is SUCH a mental game!! i have to remind myself of that constantly lol

      Delete
  10. Yay! Nothing better than a horse you can just go have fun on and not worry:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. definitely! i can still find plenty of reasons to worry lol, but it's nice that the horse never seems to notice!

      Delete
  11. !!!!!!! FEELINGS! I'm so happy to hear you in this sweet, beautiful place!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Awww!! That's so great!! I'm so glad it was just plain fun for you to go out there and do that. It's not silly, or trivial to be discussing it. You are so right that many times it ebbs and flows, but the fun is absolutely important. Definitely savor it, and I have no doubt that there will be so many more fun moments this year <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks i'm very hopeful for the year to come!

      Delete
  13. You know I'm a big fan of celebrating the small wins since we all come from different backgrounds and different experiences and we all need different things from our every ride. I'm so happy to read that the last schooling was FUN! :) It really encompasses the whole reason why we struggle to ride, to learn, and to grow. To be out there with a horse we love (or sometimes just enjoy) and be doing that thing we crave to do. What a gift it is to ride horses!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's exactly it - a gift. there's no promises in horses, no guarantees that all those struggles you mention will pay off. but every now and again the stars align!!

      Delete
  14. Great post! The first time in a LONG time that I had fun WHILE riding was going XC at Full Gallop last month. Best feeling ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. definitely the best :) and so awesome to finally get that feeling back after a while without it!

      Delete
  15. I'm teetering on the brink of this. I have so many things to work through and I'm getting to the point with Zoe that I'm thinking about it. When I do get her out and go places, it is Fun. It's just convincing my brain that it's going to be fun beforehand that's the problem right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh man, i definitely know that feeling. i've just tried to take one step at a time, and keep the pressure on myself low. bc there are still plenty of things that make me viscerally feel ill right now (like the mild panic attack i had a couple days before this schooling when organizers sent out ride times....). eventually tho, the good experiences start to outweigh the bad memories. repetition works!

      Delete
  16. Love this post, so so much <3 You and Charles have come such a long way, I am glad you are having FUN again.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving a comment! If you have trouble with this form, please email: fraidycat.eventing at gmail.