I grew up going to NCSU (go pack!) games with my Dad. Every year he had season tickets to football and basketball, and I would join him at least a few times per season. We both liked basketball the best, and the reason my Dad prefers basketball to football is that he says that basketball is a momentum sport. The team’s performance swings a lot in highs and lows, and some good momentum can really turn the game around.
I do not think riding is a momentum sport.
Case in point: I had a fantastic lesson on Thursday. We worked on some specific issues, and my horse was eager and listening and just fabulous. He felt forward and relaxed and totally in my pocket for whatever we wanted to do… we even got another clean lead change! I left the barn feeling on top of the world, despite a head cold that I had been ignoring all week in hopes it would go away.
P.S., ignoring a head cold is not the best thing you can do. Spoiler alert – I spent all weekend feeling crappy.
Friday I gave him the day off since he jumped around so much on Thursday, and made plans for some excellent work over the weekend. My trainer gave me a list of things to practice and I was pumped. He did so well, we were just going to ride that positive momentum and keep excelling until we left for the show on Friday. Easy peasy!
I’m sure you see where this is going.
Saturday I trudged out to the barn even though I didn’t feel well. Simon didn’t behave badly or do anything wrong, but he wasn’t fun to ride. He was just overall kind of grumpy and annoyed to be working, which is very unlike him. I even had the thought that he might have felt physically off, but decided every horse has an off day and not to worry about it. Even with me not being 100% on my A game and him not being 100% on his a-game, we still had a decent ride. Practiced straightness cantering over poles, got a skip-change in his hard direction and schooled the counter canter… which he did very, very well. I hosed him off and enjoyed taking some pictures of him galloping around his paddock like a moron (I use that term lovingly).
Sunday was lesson day, and I pretty much knew immediately that it was not going to be awesome. Simon was fine. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t bad at all but I was pretty much a complete and total asshat. I felt awful, it was near 90 degrees (wtf where is winter?!?) and my legs felt like wet noodles. What made it super frustrating is that this should have been a really enjoyable lesson, because my trainer had us do really complicated questions and hard courses and that is my favorite thing to work on. Instead, I rode like an idiot.
I got frustrated at my horse when he didn’t deserve it. I was too harsh with my hands and weak in my core. I couldn’t find most distances to save my life, and even the fence height at one point bothered me… which hasn’t bothered me at all lately. It was a simple 2’6″ vertical and I felt myself clamming up as I cantered up to it… so of course we chipped (badly).
Basically, I sucked. It wasn’t my mistakes as a rider that sucked, but my frustration and taking it out on Simon who never deserves it. My trainer called me out on it after the lesson in a nice but reality check kind of way, and she was totally right. Momentum gone.
So now I’m going to tell myself that Simon will forgive me for being an ass, and it’s not like I hauled at him and beat him or scarred him for life. I did give him a bad ride, but he’ll get a training ride this week and we’ll do some calm hacks before another lesson on Thursday before the show. My cold will go away, and I won’t ride like an idiot this weekend.
It’ll be fine, and I’ll get my good momentum back.