I know what my problems in life are, really.. from the minor problems, like being absolutely addicted to Snapple Raspberry Ice Tea, to the major problems like having more debt that I can ever pay off in 10 lifetimes at my wages.. In a way, it’s kind of good. In a way, it’s very stressful knowing all these problems. Because then I analyze every little detail – every single thing becomes days and days worth of contemplation and over-analyzing..
Take my riding…. (knew that was coming, right?) Flashback abotu 8 years ago when I had Lickety Split. He was a total bull-head. He would run you down, push you over, buck you off because he felt like it, stop dead in his tracks and watch you fly over hsi shoulder. His favorite (and most sadistic) funny thing to do would be to jump a BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL hunter course (and we were working 3’+ fairly consistently), and then stop DEAD in front of a crossrail just because. I cannot tell you how many times I came off him. I hit my head, I broke my pelvis, one time, he even fell with me. But we were such a team. We showed every where, and we did great. We didn’t win often because he was not a fancy thoroughbred type horse, but we always did very well in our rides. Minor mistakes were just brushed off. I never thought anything of them. Ever.
Fast forward to Spyder’s meltdown on me in 2006 and the 2 years afterwards I spent just trying to even touch her, forget about riding her, and now, I AM COMPLETELY PARANOID about the slightest, most minor mistakes ever.
So, the other day I was riding Chewie, preparing for the show in a few days, I wanted to practice our walk – canter transitions, because they are not exactly his strong point. So, what I’ve been trying to do is get him to walk a bit, then take a few trot steps before he canters. Even I know he’s not at a point in training or muscle-development to go from a walk (or halt) directly into a canter. That will take quite a bit of time. I think it over a year before I got there with Lickety Split.
So anyway, Chewie got really strung out at the trot and wouldn’t switch into a canter. Three times. Twice once way and once the other. I mean, REALLY strung out at the trot. And when I pressed him with my leg, he groaned in retaliation and threw up his head and tossed it around. I got the very real sense that he wasn’t just trying to play, but he was resisting moving up to the canter.
I finished out the ride by achieving a more collected trot and asking for the canter from there, and after that, his transitions only got better and better, and I ended on a spectacular note with a beautiful trot-canter change that was so elevated and graceful it was wonderful.
So the incredibly minor problem got fixed. Even though I failed to get a decent walk-canter transition, I did end up getting five or six really great trot-canter take offs. At the show Sunday, we will be asked to canter from the walk, so basically I know already we will be blowing our classes because I cannot seem to get him to move from a walk to canter with a minimal amount of trotting only. But as far as the show goes, I do not care so much.
Was I happy that the ride ended after some super transitions? Yes! Did I feel good that I worked through the sass he was giving me? Yes! Do I feel confident that this was just a minor moment in time that was readily bypassed? NO! Did I go home totally stessing out about my bad riding and spend most of the night sitting up in an obsessive analysis of all the things I did wrong? YEP. You bet. Did I call my trainer to discuss my concerns? Yep. She thinks I’m nuts too. My husband thinks I’m crazy, and I know I am! I just can not find the confidence in myself to trust that I’m not something wrong here (or know how to fix it).
My trainer said it could have just been that he was having a lazy day and not to worry about it. She said I should be proud of everything I’ve accomplished with the horse so far, and remember that when it comes to English riding, and English cues and self-carriage, he is not made, so it’s not going to be perfect. I don’t mind un-perfect, but I really think he was resisting and fighting moving in to the canter, and a million reflections of Spyder pinning her ears and throwing herself around rearing and trying to hurt me flashed into my mind. I rode her terribly wrong, and Tate, and Rio, and Riley, and Frankie, too. All dressage horses, all I rode wrong and had minor to massive issues with.
I’m not trying to ride Chewie dressage. In fact, I’m trying to ride him without reins all together in the future. So I sat up nearly half the night worrying… did I have the reins too short when I was asking and didn’t realize it? Three times? How could I let that slip by me three times and not notice? How many other times does that happen? Did I have the reins too long which is why he was getting too strung out? He cannot canter if he’s totally dropped onto his front end at a fast-paced trot, so I was asking something that was difficult or impossible from him and he was frustrated? Did he just not like the footing because it had poured rain all morning, so it was wet? Did I not warm him up enough to get moving into the canter…. What if this, and did I do that… all night long.
This is my truest downfall in life. This separates me from the riders who do well and the screwy ladies who never jump more than crossrails because they just can’t handle it. I’m becoming the latter, and I have not Spyder to thank for that, but myself. Because I can’t just say, “You know what.. I fixed it and he did good, so move on.” I have to sit here and critically evaluate my failures in my riding and stress that the next ride will be worse and worry that in a few more months I’ll have an unrideable horse. All because of a few little tosses of his head.
UGH! It’s frustrating being me.
I just hope that Sunday, which will be our next ride, is better. I hope the issues with my riding do not creep up and we can just ride and enjoy riding. And I am looking forward to the little show. It is supposed to rain, but fortunately the place has a lovely indoor. It was supposed to rain today too and it was absolutely beautiful out instead, so hopefully Sunday will have warm weather.
Sunday is just going to be another ride and that’s all. As far as the “criteria” for the classes, I am not concerned about that. I just want to encourage him to not trot all strung out for a quarter of the arena before stopping and trying again. I’ll do a fair bit of warmup, if I can, depending on the weather (if the outdoor arena is useable) and just practice our stuff then.
I am looking forward to riding either way show or no show, and I hope I fix the issue I had. I am really looking forward to getting Chewie braided 🙂 I haven’t done hunter braids in… well…. I guess 4 years or so, since I showed Tate in a Dressage show. So, hopefully I can do them without screwing them up too bad.
What happened to my confidence in all things? I used to think I KNEW IT ALL. I was the master of everything. Now I have no confidence about anything. Can’t I at least find a happy medium?????
Maybe this weekend will help me find that medium.