Stepping Down to Move Forward

Stepping Down to Move Forward

When my husband took riding lesson (oh so briefly), he got very frustrated that riding wasn’t a linear progression sport.  I basically said “duh!” and expressed that it’s often one step forward two steps back… or at least feels that way.

Yet, I forgot my own advice recently.

This winter has been rough on us for riding consistency.  Not many barns in Texas have an indoor, and that includes us.  We’ve had tons of rain lately, and I’ve been lucky to get two to three rides in a week for all of January and early February.  It’s not worth complaining about, because it is what it is.

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That schedule hasn’t been stellar for my dear ponykins.  We’re struggling with flat issues that felt easy peasy in December, and coursework is rusty on my part and SUPER enthusiastic on his.  Still we’ve had some good lessons and made progress back, but it hasn’t been easy.

With the first show of the year coming up in about two weeks, I didn’t hesitate when I told my trainer that I wanted to step back to the 2’3″ and 2’6″ divisions instead of the 2’6″ and the 2’9″.  While I’d love to continue my progression to the elusive 3′ ring this year, it’s just not a good idea.  The year end show was such a huge sting to my confidence, that I’m going to need some rebuilding time.

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Before that show, I’ve never felt Simon question me like that.  It is not a good feeling to know your soldier of a horse is worried.  I truly don’t think any lasting damage was done, but I’d rather quit showing than kill my horse’s confidence.  One of the best parts about Simon is his ferver for jumping.  If I killed that because I kept riding him poorly at heights I wasn’t comfortable with I would beat myself up about it forever.

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So we’re stepping down.  I’m really excited to show instead of worrying about not being ready or not performing well.  At these heights, I feel comfortable and confident.  I’ll work on keeping my forward pace and going with a more competitive (but safe) time for the jumpers.

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Now if only I can ride consistently between now and then!

30 thoughts on “Stepping Down to Move Forward

  1. Good for you for taking a step back, it’s awful having a confidence knock. It’s great knowing that you’re taking Simon into consideration and concentrating on the fun aspect of showing! Good Luck this show year, I look forward to reading about it!

  2. these are important decisions that only you can make for yourself and your horse – and the logic here makes a lot of sense. hope you have so much FUN at the upcoming show!!!

  3. Kudos for listening to your gut on this! If your experience is anything like mine, you might be moving up faster than you think once you get the little details sorted out. And because of the timing and the pictures you chose to use, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you are showing at the charity show in San Antonio at the end of the month? If so, see you there!

  4. How exciting! I was thinking of taking Chloe to our first show together at the end of the month, but like Texas, Kansas also has few indoor arenas and rain/wind/snow/cold. I just don’t think we’ll be ready and I’ll brave more weather than most at my barn!

    Looking forward to the show report!

  5. Sounds like it’s the right decision- it’s way better to spend time rebuilding at a lower level NOW than in a year or two after several nasty shows at a higher level!

    I spent all last year piddling at Intro level dressage (I *was* doing the test with the cantering, so I felt marginally better about myself) which was great for me, because I felt confident about my ability to perform under (admittedly low) pressure and I think all the good rides were good for Gina, too. We’re ready to kick ass at Training level this year (or more like not embarrass ourselves).

  6. Do what feels right! I think you are making a smart decision. Don’t beat yourself up – it is better to have a better ridden, smoother, more consistent course than one that is disorganized and 3″ higher.

    If it makes you feel any better, I dream of the day I can show at 2’3″ 🙂

  7. I think it’s great that you’re doing what feels right for you and your horse, rather than what’s expected of you by some people. It’s hard to go against the current, but in this case it sounds like the right move. Good luck at your show! 🙂

  8. Good good good! It’s good for you and Simon. Showing should be fun and yes somewhat stretching but still if you are going to shell out lots of money I’d rather have fun than be completely stressed out.

  9. Good on you for doing what you need to do. The non-linear aspect of training goes against nearly everything else we’re taught in life!

  10. Sounds like a good plan! Showing should be fun rather than a source of stress (I have to remind myself of this all the time) ; but sounds like you already know that based on the decision you’ve made 🙂 Can’t wait to keep on reading about your shows.

  11. What a wonderfully positive outlook! This will be an awesome confidence boost for both of you, so when you do move up it’ll be with excitement and preparation. He’s got the sweetest expression in all those pictures!

  12. I have a show in two weeks too (hey…are you coming to the one at the Rose Palace?! That’s where we are going.) that I’m not feeling particularly thrilled about. Last show there I ended up with a broken collarbone and two months off, and with the inconsistent riding since the New Year, I am not feeling prepared. My barn in Houston had a lighted, covered arena, and it wasn’t until I moved to SA that I realized how lucky I really was…ready for winter to be over already!

  13. It’s really hard to admit that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew so you should be proud of yourself for recognizing that! Never apologize for taking a step back to have fun — and I KNOW that you and Simon will have a blast. Good luck!!

  14. There is nothing wrong with starting out a show season where you feel the most comfortable! A lot of time eveners (or at least some of the ones I know) will start out a level under what they finished on last year. Or if they’re looking to move up in 1 or 2 shows the first show of the seasons will be at the level they’ve been competing at. Plus all the Rolex Riders take their horses out at Prelim/Intermediate every winter before moving back up to Advance 🙂 So you’re in good company by showing where you’re comfortable for your first show out!!! Good luck and ride confidently!!!!!

  15. Such a good decision! So many times over the past two years I’ve thought to myself “Just enter a training event and get it over with. Technically, you probably CAN get around…” But at what cost to my horse’s delicate grudge-holding brain and my own confidence if something did go wrong?

    You guys will be rocking around the 3′ ring before you know it!

  16. I don’t think there’s any shame in stepping down for a show. The time to challenge yourself is when you feel ready, not when you’ve been sidelined by weather. Enjoy yourself and plan for the next show!

  17. Totally get it. I’m right there with you. We’ve faced a knock to confidence with Ollie regressing in his not-turning shenanigans, plus our across-the-country-move and change in program and trainers. It’s going to take us some time to get back to where we were as well. Hang in there!

  18. I think that’s totally smart! given wizard’s history this year, I’m doing the same thing- I’m stepping down to beginner novice for the first few combined tests and, depending on how those go, may or may not move back to novice for the first real event. It’s more important to me to have a level we can both tackle confidently and rebuild our confidence. you’re making a smart choice!

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