Hello Dear Reader!
I promise, I’m back. Going back over every single post from the last 2 weeks seemed a little daunting, so I’m going to do the classy thing and pretend I was never gone. Rest assured that I read them all and felt your pain, joys, and ridiculous moments.
Today’s post is about the sin of pride. And anyone who has ever spent time around horses already knows where I’m going with this because of the whole horses-eat-your-ego-for-breakfast thing. Don’t spoil it for the readers who think horses are magical unicorns that poop rainbows.
Addy and I have been totally on fire lately: having awesome lessons, doing well in shows, rockin’ the new height without blinking, being Awesome with a capital A. I can even get that collected bouncy canter on command now, and my nerves haven’t made me puke yet! I must be a Very Good Rider.
In this case, it wasn’t even Addy that knocked me down a peg. It was that glorious Assistant Trainer of mine. I’m saying glorious through gritted teeth as I massage my thigh muscles and hope they’ll continue to hold me upright for just a little while longer. I’m saying glorious as I look up the maximum dosage info on the Advil bottle. I’m saying glorious as I wonder whether I should move back to the Short Stirrup classes for a while.
Here’s what happened:
I went to the barn for one of my “homework” rides after work yesterday. It was a beautiful hot sunny day, I was pretty tired from it being Monday (do I need another reason??), and Addy has been super chill lately so I figured we would do a quick flat school and leave it at that.
Addy forgot that she’s been chill lately and had a lovely time speed-trotting around the ring while simultaneously peeking at all the Big Scary Rails along the walls that she’s seen literally every day for the last few months. But no big deal, we warmed up walking and trotting around decently despite the ants in her pants. I trust her enough to know that getting a little speedy and looky is about as “bad” as she gets, and I trust my own skills enough to hold me on for whatever she throws at me. I was using a different saddle than normal which made me feel extremely insecure in my leg, but whateva. It was a simple flat hack, I had the strength the hold my leg in place for at least the 30 minutes I was planning on riding. All in all, having a fine time with the DragonMare.
Then we started cantering around, and I began playing with changes of pace- extending and collecting at different places. That’s when AT (Assistant Trainer) looked around as her lesson left the ring, and called out “I want you to hold that outside rein more strongly around the corners.”
And so it began.
Now, we’ve been trying that whole counter-bending thing with great success lately, so I wasn’t surprised to hear this. It really did help Addy straighten out instead of digging through the corners, and our circles were much more balanced. AT then had me canter a very small circle while holding that outside rein strong and HOLY MOLY LEG 4 DAYS. It was lightyears more balanced and controlled than any circle we’ve done, but it took So. Much. Leg. My reins were actually doing what they were supposed to do and acting as straightening aids, and my legs were what moved her around that track. Our goal was to move her shoulders over instead of bending. A.K.A. learning how to do the tight turns that I’ll see in the jumper ring.
“But Olivia,” you chime in innocently, with a gentle twinkle in your eyes, “That all sounds great! What bruised your ego about such a valuable learning experience??”
To which I say, jeez man let me finish, I’m getting there.
AT then looked consideringly at the quarter-line set up and told me to go through it a couple times “so she has a chance to see it.” Um, ok. I could tell she had an idea in her head that went farrrr beyond the quarter-line. We popped through that a couple times in three nice strides with no problems- it was set to 2’6″-2’9″ish so nothing of note there.
Keep in mind that Addy was still full of beans. Still no big deal and very manageable.
OH LORD THIS IS WHERE IT HAPPENED.
AT said to me “Olivia, I want you to jump in the first jump, then roll back right to the rail. Do it in front of these standards, don’t go around.” I made some sort of noise about wtf is this and she made some sort of noise about I didn’t ask for your opinion I told you to do this and then I made some sort of noise that sounded kinda like “ok.”
Attempt 1: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 2: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 3: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 7: Jump in. Hard turn righ-NOPE THAT’S THE WALL WE GOTTA GO LEFT.
Attempt 8: Set up some ground poles as a guide. Approach the jump. WHAT ARE THESE POLES I CANNOT JUMP.
Time to take a break. At this point I was getting extremely anxious and tense, which led to me getting very stiff in the saddle. Poor Addy had absolutely no clue what I was asking her to do, and could feel me getting more and more anxious. So she assumed there was something to be anxious about. Nothing naughty, but there was certainly a fire under her at this point.
AT put the jump down to a crossrail and set up a few more ground poles to guide our track. Told us to very calmly trot in and make the turn that way.
Yeah, nope. We were still so super keyed up and that wasn’t gonna work.
So we took it a step further and put it down to a ground pole. Addy still bunny-hopped over it a couple times and I’m pretty sure I was still holding my breath, but we just went in circles over it until both of us relaxed and realized there was nothing to worry about. We focused on where I was placing her feet and her shoulders at the walk.
And we ended on that good note. Because even though last week our good note was nailing a full 3′ course with rollbacks, yesterday’s good note was steering correctly at the walk over a ground pole. Like I said. The sin of pride.
We have some super intense homework: lateral work. Like, metric crap-tons of lateral work. At the walk. Leg-yields and turns on the forehand to really get her sensitive to my leg and train my leg to ask appropriately. Do that until we have it nailed at the walk. Then we can try it trotting. Eventually we’ll apply that to our jumping and make those tight turns. We need to step back to those basics for a bit so that we can put the building blocks together strongly.
Some homework just for me: breathe in and breathe out. Treat every jump as a schooling opportunity with no pressure. Remember that each new trip through is a new opportunity. Believe that I can do what I set my mind to and commit.
After that physical and mental torture, I think you can all guess what I did. I asked if I could have a private flat lesson sometime soon. I think there’s something wrong with my brain.
Any tips for working on our lateral movements? How do you approach these super tight jumper turns? Any ideas for strengthening my legs? I have lots of requests for your help and opinions this week 🙂