When it all just MAKES SENSE... (sorry it's long, but gosh it feels so good!)
This year has been a very enlightening year for me...
I've been riding since I was ittybitty and showed hunters/eq at the 3'+ level until I was in college. I rode extensively in college but lost tons of confidence and... scope... if you will. Jumping became slightly horrifying for me.
I'd finally gotten back to where I could jump around at 2'6" without feeling sick, but it certainly wasn't pretty or put together enough for me to be happy with it.
I do this for my JOB! Mostly pleasure horses who don't jump, though, so while I'm in good riding shape, I don't really have the mounts to practice my jumping on, and certainly no steady eddies to return my confidence.
But this year I got lucky and have had four wonderful horses, all green but honest in their own ways, to practice and learn and improve on. My TB gelding, who I've been bragging about lately on here, has been my biggest challenge as we have lots of baggage together and he really takes a pretty technical ride to get it just so.
I've been doing BN all year and did my first novice at Champagne Run. I'm looking forward to moving my other mare up after one more BN and tackle BN on my gelding... and I'm actually looking forward to moving him up to Novice!
Well, finally, for some reason, over the last few weeks, its really starting to click. All the sayings that I've KNOW and adhered too but didn't really GET have totally fallen into place. Elastic elbows, it takes two to pull, self carriage, supple, connection... its all there- I get it. And it's working! It was dry enough to jump today and all my students were around to watch, of course.
He's been a head tosser while jumping forever, then he drops his shoulders before he lifts off- which zaps my confidence as he loses his focus and steadiness. I've finally realized how to remedy this- lots of suppling exercises at the canter and he isn't bracing on me anymore. Its getting fluid.
Well, today I added a jump to the equation and it really all just fell into place. I could feel it happening. He lifted his shoulders, I sat, he cantered up in a rhythm so steady I could set a metronome to it. He jumped from a perfect distance repeatedly, landed uphill and cantered off in the same rhythm. No fighting, no head tossing, no jumping ahead for me. I could feel him adjust as he saw his take off. I finished with a 2'9" oxer today and the thought of "we may crash" never even entered my head. I would have raised it even more without a second thought but it was getting darker and shadowy.
In the hunters, height was always a focus- "Oh, you're doing the 3's? You're moving up to the 3'6"??" and I realized in eventing, height never is the "thing"- its all about getting there the right way- there have been some threads this year that have really stuck with me and made lots of difference.
I couldn't have done it without a great coach, some great horses and COTHers- those who only share their opinion with us online, and a couple who have been my mentors this year in real life- I feel like this year has been a big year for me and I can't WAIT to see what next year brings!
WAY TO GO! I am super jealous!!! What mare are you moving up to novice? Brandy?! I hope 2010 is my year! I have made some decisons and am putting my full focus on my horse and MY riding. No more IHSA for me so I can move along with my horse!
Supre awesome about Ari though!
~*It's not about the ribbons, but about the ride behind it"
R.I.P. Teddy O'Connor
That is so wonderful to hear and thank you for sharing your story. Congratulations!!! I think all of us fight demons at some time or another as riders and any time all your hard work comes together, the feeling is the best.
Isn't it crazy how we "know" stuff forever, but don't really "get it" until some light bulb goes off somewhere? If only we understood what it was we knew but didn't "get" BEFORE we "got" it! Ha!
Once when clinicing with a BNT who I've cliniced with many times I had one of those great big light bulb moments. I looked at him in wonder and said that I know he must have tried to teach me this exact same simple concept a half a dozen times over the last couple a years, but I can't believe I'm only just now understanding it. He grinned, like he does, and told me that you only learn things when you are ready to learn them and in the mean time it will just go over your head.
A good instructor has to continually repeat the same concepts. A good student--not good rider but "student"--has to continually try to prepare themselves to learn. For me I'm slow enough that I have to get presented with the same concept in several different ways/times. Reading really helps me with that, reading the same books multiple times is also very helpful. (I did say I was a little slow!)
I'm right there with you on looking forward to 2010!