Not a Linear Process

Not a Linear Process

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.

Photo by Heather N Photography
Photo by Heather N Photography

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 🙂

Photo by Heather N Photography
Photo by Heather N Photography

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.

Photo by Heather N Photography
Photo by Heather N Photography

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.

Photo by Heather N Photography
Photo by Heather N Photography

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.

31 thoughts on “Not a Linear Process

  1. This is one of my favorite posts of yours ever. Not because I like reading about failure, but because there’s a beginning, a middle, and a super positive end to this story and you’re not letting the beginning and middle get you down. I’m here to follow along in your journey, and the right-here-right-now feels like a defining moment in your journey, and one that you’re attacking with exactly the right attitude. Get it, girl!

  2. I think you should choose to celebrate that you ended better than you started and you learned something! Your video clip looks lovely. 🙂 I’ll be that confidence will be back in no time and the 2’6″s and 2’9″s will look easy peasy soon!

  3. Ditto to what CobJockey said!!
    Just so you know, my horse and I would crash through that line. Seriously. I can barely canter over 3 or 4 ground poles without a goof up. I’m a western rider that is trying to start the basics of jumping and I’m having a heck of a time. I love that you got a bit tough with yourself and Simon and ended on a good note.

  4. I love the new pics of you and Simon. You are gorg, the new bridle is gorg, of course Simon is gorg, and there just seems to be a general feeling of love & trust between you two.

    Like the great Elsa said in Frozen “LET IT GOOOOO”. It isn’t fair to compare yourself to the you of the Fall and especially not to other riders. I have so been there and it is terrible to do to yourself. Put the bat away 😀

    I’ll take your word for it there was some struggles, but DAMN girl, you two looked AWESOME in the clip above and you gave him a great ride. That is something to be proud of.

    1. I don’t know what happened to that sentence. It was supposed to say “I have been there and it is so terrible.” Give yourself a hug!

    2. Thank you for all the positivity! A friend took these pictures for me last weekend, and although I don’t love how I look in some I do really like the relationship they show with my nerd horse 🙂

  5. Love your attitude here. It is so, so easy for those of us overachievers to get sucked up in to what everyone else is doing, but our situations are rarely comparable.

    Simon isn’t an easy horse to ride and you guys are making it work. Be proud of your accomplishments. 🙂 I’m cheering for you.

  6. You definitely have the right attitude about it! Don’t ever take forward and straight for granted–it is not automatic, no matter how much training a horse has. The rider always has to create it, like you did. That is no easy gymnastic, and you did it.

  7. Glad you are reveling because you totally got it done! Like you said, it’s not a race or a competition. Those riders and those horses are at a different plac ein their journey, and the fact that you were able to get Simon through that challenge is awesome! And remember that the riders who have to work hard (versus the ones who are just complete naturals – or whose horses just take them through it) are the ones who have more tools to deal with the challenges that come later.

  8. that video is awesome – you and Simon both look confident and fluid through the gymnastic! i would definitely be proud of that – esp with the work you put in to get him there. just like you don’t feel like you’re the same rider as last fall, you’re also not the same rider at the end of that lesson as you were at the beginning.

    also – i love the pictures!

  9. I think I had this same lesson last night, only there weren’t jumps involved. That feeling that you “got it done” is really important! Good for you!

  10. I stand by the asking for gymnastics is crazy talk! But, good for you for pushing through it. You should definitely be proud of yourself.
    You are so right with the riding is not a linear process. Once you think that you’ve mastered a set of skills you learn something new and have to figure out how to make it all work together again.

  11. I think a big part is just the fact that our lesson group now includes some more advanced riders, so naturally you might feel like the “remedial” one, but everyone gets their turn at being the remedial pair from time to time (as you know, I have been many times!!).

  12. I think that comparing oneself to others is probably one of the hardest things not to do in life in general – with riding being just a part of that! You’ve totally got the right attitude here and I’ll second what others said here too that that is not an easy gymnastic in the first place!

  13. Oh God. Gymnastics were the freaking WORST with my horse for a while. But we had the opposite problem, we once bounced a one-stride. Like Superman. So embarrassing. But it did get better – click gymnastics in the world cloud on my sidebar and you can read all about it. It will get better for you too!

    (Also, good for you for not crumbling. Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

  14. Girl, give yourself a break!! I can say this with authority as I do the same thing. All.the.time. Gymnastics can be hard! First time i ever rode on I thought I needed to come back and sit between elements – what a hot mess that was! My trainer nearly died laughing, Sug was looking back at me like “WTF, Mom, I gotta figure out how to do this and you aren’t helping with all the flailing up there.” Then there was the time she thought the bounce was an oxer. THAT was exciting.
    I love how your trainer handled it so perfectly. Have you ever read Jimmy Wofford’s Modern Gymnastics? Great stuff in there, and the one thing he says throughout is if you and the horse are having difficulty, go back to an easier task, take out an element.
    You look totally smooth and relaxed in that video, totally with him. In other words, awesome. Again, try giving yourself a break. MWAH!

  15. I have to echo my appreciation of your attitude here. You worked on something that is really hard — bounces are HARD man! grids are hard! — and adjusted yourself to work on getting it right. I also think you looked super solid in that video, so there’s a lot to be happy with there too!!

  16. i have such a hard time putting my big girl bite kick scratch pants on over fences. I haven’t had the chance to consistently jump every week for ages. My first mare was hot as heck so you just had to sit quiet or you would die. Then my retired mare would jump me out of the tack if I didn’t get enough oomph to a fence. If I grrred her over when I brought her in at a bad speed I would launch. I actually tore Cartilage in my hip from a launchpad jump. I have so much respect that you!!!

  17. Grids are hard (especially with a bounce at the end, yikes). In fact, I’m pretty sure they are scientifically proven to be the only jumping exercise that reveals all of your riding weaknesses at once.

    But you got better and learned, and that is great. So are those pretty pictures of you two. =-)

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