If I let myself, I could get really depressed about my riding right now.
We are no where near the level we were last fall. The shows I had planned on doing this spring and summer (even the one next week) are seeming out of grasp right now. I’m totally the remedial rider in the lesson group, and there are lots of instances where I’d gasp watching me ride.
My ego is shriveling up and dying, but my self esteem isn’t.
Though I’m the “bottom” of my group, I’ve moved up to the ‘jumper’ lesson and that includes people who have shown 3’6″ and rated stuff. Sure, some people may be progressing faster than us… but it isn’t a race. Even if my brain is competitive, I know that this isn’t going to be a linear process. That’s what happens when you combine a green horse with an adult amateur that never did real hunter/jumper showing as a kid. Toss in limited finances, shaky confidence and switching disciplines and well… it’s going to happen.
Last night we had a gymnastic lesson, which I asked for. I have no one to blame but myself 🙂
My trainer set up the following, although we built to it slowly.
Trot Pole — Cross rail — One stride to Vertical — One stride to Oxer — Bounce
That’s as far as we got. It ended with another one stride to a vertical for the other girls. We did okay until it came to the bounce…
The first time he tried to put his feet down and was like WHOA NO ROOM!
The second time he still thought he should put his feet down, but not as dramatically as the first.
The third time he jumped but I was leaning, so it wasn’t pretty.
The fourth time he was like “I have so figured this out!” and did the pre-calculated trademark ‘fit the add in at all costs’ and put a one stride in the bounce even though I was adding leg. He was very proud of himself. It wasn’t a naughty thing, but a “Mom is leaning so I’m going to do what’s right and make this work out properly!” move. Oh Simon.
So that’s when we pulled out and waited for the other girls to finish. Then we went back to conquer the bounce. My trainer changed the gymnastic to…
Trot Pole — Crossrail — One Stride Vertical — Bounce
She also moved the bounce in a few feet, so it was physically impossible for him to add.
The first time through, he completely sucked back and I did nothing. It was like a slow motion crash scene where we just knocked jumps down at basically the walk and I froze in a fetal position.
Super, super pretty.
Then I got a talking to and was told that all horses go through this phase where they want to die in the gymnastic, because it’s hard and they have to use their body. When things start going wrong, Simon’s instinct is to go slow and/or add and we just can’t do that. I have to teach him that forward is always the answer.
We went through it again, and it wasn’t a lot better.
So then I got another talking to that I had to be ‘mean’ with him. I had to ‘grr’ him through this because slow isn’t going to help us. Forward and straight, not slow and crooked. I went through again with a ton of gumption. I grrr’ed. I growled, “Get over!” and I applied a ton of leg while holding him straight with an open right rein.
And it was better.
Each time I rode fairly aggressively, I needed less the next time. Eventually he went through forward and straight.
After this lesson I can think about it in one of two ways. Either I can pout about the fact that I couldn’t complete the gymnastic and jump big like the others, or I can revel in the fact that I improved our situation last night by riding. That I ended on a good note, and learned something.
I choose to revel. We probably won’t show next weekend, but that doesn’t mean I’m failing.