Sputtering on Restart

Sputtering on Restart

I’m supposed to be showing at my barn’s local IEHJA show this weekend, but after losing the “Will I Lesson?” game too many times… I’ve taken Simon off the list. Truthfully, I’m super bummed. I was really looking forward to getting back in the ring with our new skills, but he got another abscess that sidelined him for a week. Although he’s sound and happy again and I’ve had some great rides, it’s not fair to my horse (or my pocketbook) to throw him in the ring when we’re not fully prepared… even if it is a super convenient at-home show.

After realizing I was going to miss the show, I did the super mature adult amateur thing and had a pity party for myself. That lasted approximately one afternoon, and after it I decided to allow myself to go to the next show, home or away, that we were realistically prepared for. So that is what we will do!

In the meantime, I wanted to update y’all on something fairly important. After over twenty years, I’m finally learning how to ride horses.

Obvs not me or Simon, but I have 0 new pictures.

I know, I know… you’re probably thinking it only took her twenty years! She must be some kind of prodigy, but I assure you that I’m no better than anyone else at learning how to ride horses.

The biggest reason I’m bummed about missing the show and missing so many lessons lately, is that I’m pretty damn thrilled with how my riding is progressing. To say things simply — I love my new trainer.

This is not a slam on my Texas trainer, who I adore. There, I learned a lot of “big picture” pieces to get Simon around a course of jumps, ride more confidently and figure out this whole jumper world. I couldn’t have had any success with Simon without my Texas trainer, because she taught him how to relax and settle and helped me believe in myself.

But now I am getting a different kind of instruction, which doesn’t focus on the overall feel of a course, but instead with minute details. Here are some examples of feedback I’ve been getting in my lessons:

  • Your rib cage has an obvious wobble to it.
  • You need to open your inside shoulder before a turn so your arm has to do less of the work.
  • You need to change the angle of your foot in the stirrup so your calf is hitting your horse instead of your heel.
  • You moved your hands 2″ past the martingale strap on that transition. Don’t do that.
  • Why are you nagging him with your heel?
  • Are your toes curled in your boots? Make your toes flat.
  • Tighten your elbows when you ask for the down transition.

Even though I was jumping courses in every lesson before I left Texas, the most action poor Simon has gotten over fences (with me) has been a single crossrail. That might have been dejecting to me a year ago, but I feel how much smoother and even our canter is before and after that crossrail. There are moments of our flatwork where he is pushing forward into the bridle in the trot and I’m just posting along happily with still hands. My trainers have even started using the “H” word (Hunter!), and Simon has given the assistant trainer automatic changes on more than one occasion during her rides.

Simply put, things are going swimmingly.

So yes, it’s taking us longer to get showing than I hoped it would. And yes, I am struggling with the financial implications of keeping all of this up during graduate school when I am remarkably poor in almost every way. While half of me loses sleep worrying about how much I’m spending on riding, the other half of me thinks that a horse like Simon is often once in a lifetime and he won’t be young, healthy and sound forever. Plus, riding is frankly making me really damn happy right now… when I get to do it.

I’m trying to take things one day at a time, and get my skills as good as they can be while I have the opportunity to ride here. Feeling myself get stronger and better in the saddle (and wobble 95% less) is an addicting feeling. Almost as addicting as showing… almost.

19 thoughts on “Sputtering on Restart

  1. I think a lot of people would be well served by good equitation instruction before execution instruction. So much easier to be effective if you no longer have to focus on your position and its role.

  2. I love it!! Getting to work on the details is hard, but so, so rewarding. I’m excited to get back to that at some point with Niko, although to be honest, working on the big picture with him right now is a lot of fun too 😀

  3. Awesome! My trainer is definitely a “trainer of trainers” in style (More about getting results from horses than necessarily the nitty gritty of equitation), so I definitely am jealous of this level of attention to your riding! (and the clear improvement you are feeling in Simon)

  4. Woohoo! What a cool update. It’s so fun to feel like you are taking your riding to the next level.

    And yes…if you and Simon are ready, you should definitely show. There’s no time like the present!

  5. So exciting! I know it’s been a bumpy road, but sometimes that leads to the biggest breakthroughs. Bummer about this show, but there will be more to come. So glad things are coming together for you guys!

  6. Makes sense! Hope nerd horse stays healthy so you can continue this awesome progression! I have a new hunter trainer too and she’s “de-eventing” my jumping style, LOL! It’s a lot of annoying minutiae, but I feel more elegant these days because of it, so that’s fun.

  7. Glad you are having such a fun time with your new trainer!!! Sometimes it takes a new set of eyes and a different way of saying things to jump start riding improvements 🙂 My trainer and I always talk about what I learned from clinics and lessons with other people and she’ll even say “go ride with someone else for a lesson or two” just to keep either of us from getting to comfortable with the “norm”.

  8. I’m so glad you have found someone you click so well with. It sounds like you’re really enjoying the process too 🙂

  9. I agree with what Bette said ^^^ upwards in the comments. A new set of eyes and fresh perspective can change things for the better. I’m glad you found someone you and SImon BOTH click with.

    If you’re not showing at this one, are you still going? Why not volunteer? At least take some great photos as always so we can live vicariously thru your blog….

  10. Yaaasss prodigy rider, keep being a rock star with your pone so you guys can return to the hunter ring where you’re my favorites!

  11. I’m excited for you! And I can definitely relate to that feeling of finally figuring it all out! In the jumping ring I’m finally able to start feeling what my body is doing instead of just getting from one side of the fence to the other… how novel is that?!

  12. Bummer about the show – but really it sounds like you are in a really awesome position and sound so positive! I can’t wait to hear more. 🙂

  13. I would add one more bullet point to the ones you listed: why do you continually drop your horse over a fence? The reins are so slack, no contact, Simon is on his own.

  14. Great post! We’ve interviewed Grand Prix dressage rider and when we ask them what their best piece of advice is, they almost all say to get a good trainer. A good instructor is worth their weight in gold. Glad to hear that you have found yours x

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