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Issues with asynchronous progress; advice? Or a slap upside my head, perhaps?

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  • Issues with asynchronous progress; advice? Or a slap upside my head, perhaps?

    I'm a very verbal person; please forgive the truly ridiculous length. Scroll down to the last line if you want the summary; it really helped to type this out. I like the support I see on this board - mostly, - and surely someone knows what this feels like and can bash me over the head with some common sense. So I've posted about how much I adore my horse, so I'll try to skip that. Former jumper turned dressage boy in October. 14 yrs old. 1/2 Tbred, mare a mix of perch and QH in some unknown ratio. My forever heart horse. A saint. Very healing. blah blah blah.

    He was recently injected. Recently started on supplements. Recently put on alfalfa. Not all at once. Love my trainer - patient, kind, excellent rider, treats me and horse very well and knows my goals, which are to be safe, have fun, and progress. I have no Olympic dreams . Depending on the week, I ride horse 3, 4, or 5 times and trainer rides 1-2. I was just away for a funeral and trainer rode him 3x in a row. We will also have times where trainer starts him and then I hop on. Trainer is wonderful, horse loves him, and trainer knows how much to ask. Horse is smart, sometimes protests a few times when learning something new, but then says ok, and does it. I'm in a great situation and we have fun. I watch tons of other lessons at my barn and learn so much from both trainers.

    I'm not a timid person in real life at all and handle true emergency situations all the time. But, I'm a timid rider, and I'm getting better all the time. Horse I had growing up took off all the time; I still have issues with fear of being taken off with. Current saint horse has never done this with me. No bucking, no rearing, no backing, nothing. Minor shying from things, and lots of looking. At the January show, was very sideways spooky with trainer while being led around to look at the arenas, tablecloths, etc. I'm not a bad rider. Good balance. Just head games with myself.

    I have talked to my trainer about this (he actually brought it up after I was teary today at the end of my lesson), and we are on the same wavelength; I'm just asking for advice from other returning riders/timid riders, BTDTs, etc. I'm definitely with the right trainer, so no issues there. Horse is progressing. I'm having a BLAST. An absolute BLAST. Love my lessons, love to ride him and spend time with him. I feel like I progress more and more every day with learning how to ride dressage and how to ride him. Position is better, he's becoming more sensitive to my leg, I don't freak all the time when he looks at things, etc. He's kicked out in protest a few times and I didn't freak out. I'm learning so much. (we're talking excitement about 20 meter canter circles, the occasional leg yield, not pirouettes.) We go back and forth as to who is accelerating faster in the training process. Horse has always been more talented than I am, but today I really felt that he was way ahead of me.

    Trainer and I felt I was ready for the January show, but decided at the last minute that I wasn't because horse was so up. I would have been fine by Sunday afternoon, but we didn't know that on Sat. pm. Horse was very excited to be at the large, windy show grounds. But I was all ready to show him and we believed I would be able to ride him decently in Training Level 2 . Trainer rode open instead and horse did very well.

    So now we have a show this weekend, and I was very excited about riding him on the second day, because clearly I've progressed. Which I have. But, horse has too. Today, horse was amazing. Trainer rode first and took him around the track twice at a trot. Warmed up a bit in the arena, then I went. Horse felt like an FEI horse (truth: I don't have any idea what this feels like as I've never been on one, but he sure felt like what I would imagine one would feel like!!). His trot, which is so easy to post (duh), was like a wave today. His canter was like something I can't describe. He was still smooth, and fun, but just felt different. Bigger. Much more powerful and from behind. He has a great canter jump, but this felt like, I don't know...something big. Not BAD, but big. Powerful. Different. Trainer was thrilled with the way he looked. Then within milliseconds I completely blocked him and shut him down. I screwed up and got scared because the hot air balloons were close (seriously), another horse was galloping around screaming (not close to us, BTW), and because who knows, the moon was full. But regardless, I didn't ride like I knew how, because I was scared of how he felt. So I got my regular plain horse back and I basically taught him that I wasn't going to ride him well and not reward him for doing what he's learning to do. Trot wasn't awful, but he broke at the canter and I couldn't even get him to canter around the arena once without breaking-BECAUSE I was scared of how he felt, so I pulled back on the inside rein, squeezed, didn't ride forward, you name it. And he wasn't being bad AT ALL, he just felt bigger! I eventually did canter all the way around both directions without breaking because I grew a pair, so to speak, and rode forward, and he felt GREAT. But still, I was horrible today. Trainer was very, very kind and, while I was being a terrible rider, told me what to do. Did I listen? Nope, not at first, not because I didn't understand, but because I was afraid of how horse felt. Trainer got that and talked me through it every stride and showed me that horse was safe. When we were done, and I was teary because I felt like I was first, a terrible rider who was going backwards, and second, ruining my horse who was only doing what he's learning to do, and should be rewarded!! Trainer explained that I am progressing, and reminded me of so many things that I have progressed in, and said that this canter was FAR different than what we usually have, and that this is how power feels. I love to watch my trainer ride him, and when he goes like that, he looks so strong and more beautiful than ever. (I know, this is training level, but I'm very easy to please. I think he's pretty even when he's sleeping )

    So, we decided that while I am progressing, it may be too much for me to have this "new" more powerful horse AND deal with the drama of the show, which was a lot for horse to deal with last time. We don't want me to have a bad experience (or get hurt) and go back to square one. Honestly, I had such a blast at the last show, even not riding, that I'm fine with it. I'm disappointed in myself. I want to ride in the show, but I want more to progress, regardless of the show. I want to continue to enjoy my sweet, sweet boy, and I want to learn to ride his new-found big-boy gaits when he gives them, but trainer has suggested that we do this in the safety and comfort of our own arenas before we attempt this at a big show. I'm ok with all of this and it makes total sense, so the show thing is fine. We're not going to make any decisions until Saturday, so if the heat takes the thoroughbred out of my boy, maybe I will ride. But I'm 99% as happy to be the groom. Timing of the show isn't ideal based on my ride today.

    Regardless of the show, I need to figure out how to deal with the fear and the bigger gaits. It's all fear. I'm not afraid of looking stupid or anything like that; I'm afraid of not being able to control the strength as he does get stronger (with a secondary fear of confusing my poor horse with crappy riding - but isn't it okay that have to deal with a little bit of crappy riding until their rider gets it??). All of these people talk about riding amazing horses and sitting these huge trots and feeling the power of canter pirouettes...and when I feel just a little bit of impulsion behind, my mind freaks and goes to an all-out gallop through the fields (which doesn't sound like fun to me ) Am I the only one who is fearful of these big gaits initially? It felt good, just different. Will I get used to it just like I got used to him looking around/etc.?

    Advice? Or do I just deserve to ride a shetland pony around on lead line (no offense to Shetlands or their owners) for the rest of my riding life?

    Trainer thinks I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself for the show and that I do better when we don't have this "deadline," so to speak. I think this is the first time I've cried after a lesson.

    Gosh, this internet anonymity thing is pretty helpful
    LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...

  • #2
    I think I get it.

    Your horse sounds great. Don't quit, don't bail on him, don't bail on you. It's especially nice that your horse doesn't get stronger or less rideable when he is moving bigger.

    But I think your trainer is right: Learn to ride his bigger gaits at home. Do it for short stretches.

    To me, the fear of how a powerful (or unbalanced or might-spook) horse feels is in my body. I can add a mental explanation for that if I want, but its bogus and very much Not Helpful.

    All this means the real problem is for me to decide how I want to deal with my body being a sissy.

    I *purposely* push on my comfort zone a little bit. I get to that big gait or speed or whatever and tell myself to just keep one leg on each side and Man Up for a minute. Look, I can stop whenever I want. But I also *notice* what it actually feels like to ride gaits that skeeve me out. IMO, it has to be the rider's choice to put her body in harm's way, but you have to practice going there and surviving or getting back to a ride you like.

    Take ownership of your riding career. Many times, that means defending our right to keep ourself save while others are encouraging us. Try doing the opposite: Make a decision to teach yourself to tolerate those bigger gaits, at your pace for your own purposes.

    Hope this helps.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


    • #3
      Originally posted by right horse at the right time View Post
      Gosh, this internet anonymity thing is pretty helpful
      And then the first person who responds knows you in real life.

      Your horse is a big, powerful guy. He definitely is - and if he's learning to channel that power in his gaits rather than just over jumps, it's going to make a significant difference in how he feels! I think a HUGE number of people are scared at first of that feeling of power. It's totally normal. And learning to ride it is part of the progress you will make.

      You're lucky because you're starting out in dressage with a horse who is new to it, and you're riding with an FEI trainer who is not dumbing it down for either of you, and working on preparing you for the upper levels even at training level. Trust me - if he dumbed it down and didn't give you the basis of what you need for upper levels and instead just tried to make you lower level winners, you would be competitive with him against the other riders in the area... who aren't going to make it to the upper levels with their current horses. It's great that your horse is a bit ahead of you, because it means he will let you know when you get it right and when you don't. On top of that, what you'll learn is that the straightness and focus on his work it takes for him to have those big gaits actually makes him more reliable and safer to you. When a horse is properly working from behind and reaching into contact and recycling the energy for more power, he is too focused on work (and feels more secure in his rider at that point) to worry about spooking at or reacting to anything.

      The fact you haven't had him very long at all means you really don't yet know how he'll react to things, and admitting you're a bit fearful and letting your trainer do the riding in the stressful situation isn't a bad idea while you build confidence. Your trainer isn't one who will try to make you helpless - he gets his riders out there showing and doing well, and if you need more time to be ready given your horse's improvement, there's really no harm in that!
      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


      • #4
        First, you did NOT ruin your horse. Period. Let's get that straightened out, shall we? Your boy was a good boy; he slowed down when your body slowed down, and that draft horse in him surfaced somehow. That is part of the training - the horse responds to the rider whenever/wherever. No, it isn't what you want to get high scores at show ring, but he is still being trained in a positive way.

        Second, there ARE a lot going on at show ring. Given that he is also new to showing, he is bound to get bigger than usual. Everybody gets scared the first few times when they feel all those unfamiliar powers underneath them. It is very normal, brand new sensations on top of all the new things you have to deal with at the show ring. Give yourself some time and in time you will learn to trust your own body and your horse, and all those powers underneath you will become something you crave and look for. But again, it takes a bit time. For the time being, do what you did, letting the trainer ride the first ride or two, and you ride the second/third. Or, another option is see whether you can borrow a seasoned horse who won't get big at show rings to ride at the show so you can tackle one problem at a time without worrying about his powers. Good luck.


        • #5
          If I read all the correctly it's not your horse, his training, his character. It's not your coach, his training of the horse, his teaching of you, his support. It's not your riding ability. It sounds to me like it's your mind. You are allowing your "what might happen" imagination to rule your ride.

          I've been there. A number of my students have been there. The single biggest help was learning to focus on what you want the horse to do, now. Humans have this tendency to want to "stop everything! and let me think about it" when we get into situations that worry us. We also have a wonderful (not!) subconscious that sends screaming danger messages over relatively minor things (based on our own previous experiences). Talk about a double whammy!

          Horses on the other hand have the tendency to want to "get out of here and I'll think about it later" when stuff happens. By trying to make them stop we are making them more uncomfortable. As nervous/worried/uncertain human riders we need to skip the stop everything, and go straight to "DO this now" with our horses. When we try to stop an undesired action from the horse, the horse is going to be much faster at substituting another action than we are going to be at stopping it. Instead of stopping the horse's action, give him something else to do.

          I had a spook of a horse who would spook at a bird sneezing in a tree half a mile away. Okay, I don't really think it was a bird sneezing, but 80% of the time I didn't have the faintest idea what he was spooking at - and once it really was a bit of plastic flapping on the roof of a shed half a mile away. He taught me to give him something to do - something just difficult enough that he had to pay attention, but not so difficult that he had trouble doing it (a 5m circle figure eight was the usual go to). Now I'm not saying you need to do this sort of thing with your horse, but do it with yourself. Say you see that galloping horse coming, you could ride that big trot you have over to that safely out of the way corner of the ring. The big active trot will help you get out of the way faster than if you panic and shut the horse down in case he wants to bolt too. See what I'm saying? Focus on what you WANT the horse to do, instead of reacting to what he might do.

          Those air balloons coming really close? Doing a simple, active figure like a small figure eight (small for your horse's level of training) can allow you to keep your horse moving forward, but in a controlled space. The need to keep the shape, precision, activity in the gait, change the bend, etc gives you enough to DO so that you aren't just riding straight down the long side or round a 20m circle waiting for the horse to get distracted. Give your brain enough to actively do, and you will also give your horse enough to actively do that neither of you will be thinking about what might happen. Simply gritting your teeth and holding your fear in doesn't help because you're focusing too much on the fear. Distract yourself.

          Simple keys to remember - focus on doing what you want. One last thing - WANT must be defined with positive words only. Saying "I want him to stop going sideways" isn't allowed. Say instead "I want him to trot straight over there" and know exactly the path you want his feet to take to get there. It's not an instant fix because you are retraining your mind, but you can do it. Good luck!


          • #6
            Best of luck! No advice to give, but my daughter will be scribing Sunday morning in Ring 6, so I'll tell her to send some good thoughts out to everyone! She is nervous also, it's only her second time scribing and she is not familiar with the judge's name. Dressage shows can be a bundle of nerves for everyone!

            Daughter just moved to AZ a year ago due to BF's job. Frantically searching thru 10 years of old dressage tests that she dragged across the country to see if she has ever ridden in front of this judge.

            Is your horse originally from the area? I ask because it's so different geographically out there; to me, it almost seems like another planet - and the show facilities so huge with so much going on all around. Daughter rode at Westworld in the Sept. ADA schooling day, and sent me a video. I was kind of agog - but yeah, centerline is still there...with the judge at the end of it. That much is the same.
            "I swear it happened just like this" - Leonard Cohen


            • #7
              Originally posted by NEEDS A NAP View Post
              Is your horse originally from the area? I ask because it's so different geographically out there; to me, it almost seems like another planet - and the show facilities so huge with so much going on all around. Daughter rode at Westworld in the Sept. ADA schooling day, and sent me a video. I was kind of agog - but yeah, centerline is still there...with the judge at the end of it. That much is the same.

              When my filly got to AZ (from Florida) she kept staring in the distance and I didn't realize at first what she was staring at. It was the mountain ranges! She was just trying to figure out what they were...
              If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


              • #8
                But one thing I'm sure no one misses is mold, mud, mowing, fertilizing, bugs etc. etc. AZ does have its great points!
                "I swear it happened just like this" - Leonard Cohen


                • #9
                  It seems there are two things here- getting comfortable with the bigger gaits, and getting comfortable with the show environment. I am addressing the latter.

                  You say the horse is a former jumper.

                  Do you know why he stopped being a jumper?

                  I bet that when he gets to the sjpowgrounds, he thinks he is at a jumper show, with all the excitement that involves.

                  So I would get him TO the show grounds as much as possible, just so he learns that show grounds do not mean exciting jumping. Doesn't matter if you ride him in a test at all. Just change his expectations.

                  But I agree that working at home is probably the best way to get comfortable with the bigger gaits.

                  chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                  • #10
                    How about putting showing on the backburner wile you learn to ride his bigger-ness? If you want, let your trainer show him for a while, so you can see if he relaxes more as he realizes he isn't going into the jumper ring anymore. (I was also thinking that he might be having jumper flashbacks - I had one of them, too) And you can ride him on the showgrounds and take your time getting to know his show self more?

                    Your timeline for showing is decided by you. BTW, congratulations on finding such a cool horse! Keep enjoying him, and show when you feel ready to.


                    • #11
                      Well, RHRT - I totally get where you are coming from. I don't have so many issues at home (except for not getting to ride very much as of late - I love when my horse is in forward mode as I have a tendency to block him completely - still trying to figure out how to stop that!). But showing, well, we've been to 3 now and I am starting to despair that I will ever get to show my horse. BOO!!! He is just such a tense spaz when he's there - each time we get a different scary thing and he just isn't settling down much. So, we'll try one more this fall and then decide if he wants to be a show horse - I'm leaning towards not. I have even thought about leasing a horse that will be used to shows, just so I can get my feet wet a little. In any case, don't despair - showing can wait until you work this out at home. I sent you a PM from our last show - lots of EEK moments. I say BOO again.
                      ~* Be kind to one another *~


                      • #12
                        I feel like I've been in your shoes, and recently. I converted from HJ/eventer/backyard-land, when a lovely dressage horse who I *clicked* with landed in my lap at the right time. So having never ridden true dressage, it's been quite a ride!

                        I've always been nervous about horses taking off/bolting/exploding. I got run away with once... but I also love XC and galloping, assuming I trust the horse and the situation. So I was very nervous when, during a lesson, my trainer had me working on getting my guy more through, and it resulted in that rocked-back, powerful, feels-like-he-might-explode trot. He was so on the aids and ready to do whatever I asked, but it was so powerful that it had me unnerved.

                        Honestly, it just took some getting used to. Like your guy, I trust mine not to kill me, or even try to get me off. I had to push my own comfort zone, and appreciate the power. If that's still new to you, getting that feeling in a show environment can really be unsettling!

                        We all have steps to take in order to learn something new, and part of that is being comfortable riding it. Fear is tough, but trust your horse and do the best you can. Don't rush it, and it will come.


                        • #13
                          I totally understand because I get those feelings when I jump, so I've been more comfortable with power on the flat.

                          Personally, I would deal with this as 2 issues. Work on bigger gaits at home so you only have to deal with that one issue.

                          Go to shows but don't ask for big gaits yet. If your ego doesn't want you to just putz around in a test (and I don't mean that snarky at all), maybe do schooling shows or just ride in the warm up.

                          First you have to learn how to ride at a show & then you learn how to ride well at a show.


                          • #14
                            Big gaits.

                            WHen we teach a horse tlengthen (or medium, or extend) we do not startoff by doing the whole diagonal. We do 2 or 3 strides, and then cme back to the working gait. When the horse is comfortable (both mentally and physically)with that, we do 4or 5 strides. And so on.

                            It works the same way for the rider learning to ride the "big gaits".

                            Start with just getting it for 2 or 3 strides, then come back to the smaller gaits. When you are comfortable (both riding the bigger gait, and knowing that you can easily come back to the smaller one), aadd a couple more strides. And so on. The key to not clutching is KNOWING that you can slow down when you want to.

                            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                            • #15
                              You have received a lot of good advice and I don't have much to add in terms of that. But I did want to tell you that I know exactly how you feel. I rode a horse for a while about a year and a half ago who I loved but who really *would* take off. Then she started bucking the bad kind of bucks, threw me off, and that was it for me. I got incredibly scared and even with new horses I would not want to move forward because I would just visualize it going from the good kind of forward to uncontrollable desperation and eventually bucking.

                              I had to go really slowly in order to build up to being comfortable with real impulsion. The first few times I did real extended trots I thought I might have a heart attack and of course that tension isn't good for the seat or the horse. But it got better and now those big, floating extensions are my favourite thing to ride, partially because I practiced so much and partially because I learned how to half halt for real. I need to always feel in control and I never let him get away from me, but now it is in a productive way instead of a desperate one. I just had to do these things over and over and over and figure out when to leave it because the fear was getting too great and when to push through the fear. I also use collecting exercises as sort of safety checks throughout my riding, giving us a chance to re-balance, feel confident, and use the impulsion for something productive. It might be something as simple as a shoulder-in. Having a reassuring, enthusiastic trainer helped a ton.

                              Like you, I also put a lot of pressure on myself and get very frustrated when I feel like I can't make things be the way I want. One thing that has helped me tremendously is my partner reminding me that I have many, many years of riding ahead of me. There is so much time to ride, to get better, to enjoy horses, and there is no reason for you to do X by whatever date. Riding should be fun! If it is not fun what in the world are we doing? That doesn't keep me from sometimes wanting to cry of course, but it has taken some of the pressure off.

                              Does your trainer do training rides on your horse? I find that watching my trainer ride my horse makes me feel more confident because I can actually see what he's doing. The trot that feels like it might just take off doesn't actually look like that from the ground. The Canter of Death is just a regular canter. Have your trainer warm him up so he's on his best behaviour for you if it makes you feel safer.


                              • Original Poster

                                You guys ROCK. I have read every post at least twice, and I'm going to respond to each one tomorrow. I have just finished washing everything horse owns, including his own body, and I'm all packed up for the show. Never mind that it's only 15 minutes from the barn, and about 5 minutes from my house, if I'm going to the show, I'm going to the SHOW! The advice above here is awesome...each and every bit of it. Netg and Reefy, I wish you were going to be there!! BTW, if the skies part and the draft horse Gods shine down and horse decides to leave his TB half at home, one of the rings we're scheduled in is ring 6, so Nap, your daughter might have scribed our ride! (Halt at x: straight horse, turned out well. rider looks like she's going to barf).

                                More tomorrow. Going to get some sleep. Thank you ALL. It's so nice to see that so many have BTDT, all of you have truly excellent advice, and all of you are encouraging and GET IT. It's all in my head, and you've given me true ways to work through it. Again, thank you. I will respond tomorrow.
                                LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                                • #17
                                  After (mostly) getting over my confidence issues I strongly recommend Jane Savoie's books "That Winning Feeling" and "It's Not About the Ribbons" She explains how to get rid of the bad mental images and develop a positive mental picture of SUCCESS
                                  I wasn't always a Smurf
                                  Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                  "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                  The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG...we did it!!!

                                    We rode a test in the show!!! It was a blast!! And so not perfect and I am still so happy!!

                                    You guys are AWESOME. Every piece of advice you gave me was advice that I used this weekend. Every bit of it.

                                    I'm on cloud nine!! Horsie trailered well, trainer schooled him on Friday and he wasn't insane, trainer showed him Saturday and he seemed to have left every bit of Tbred at home and only brought his Percheron self, so we decided that I would go for it on Sunday and show him myself! He even broke TWICE at the canter with trainer in his second test on Saturday, and he never breaks with trainer! He was tired, it was very hot, and I was thrilled because I knew he would be quiet for me on Sunday...yeah right...

                                    It was honestly one of the most fun experiences of my entire life! Perhaps my life is too boring . He was great in the warmup and felt very strong to me, but we channeled it and he was round, I could tell that trainer was very happy with how he looked. I kept telling trainer that he'd never felt so strong, trainer told me that I was holding tightly, whereas I normally throw away the reins. I kept begging to stop warmup because it was so hot (over 90 degrees), and trainer kept telling me to keep going...I didn't listen very well...this plays in a bit later in the story... but his canter in warmup was *almost* that big canter that scared the bejeesus out of me on Thursday and made me cry...but I don't know, today I must have been wearing my big girl panties.

                                    So we go on over to the arena (which looked HUGE to me, BTW), and trotted around the outside. I did serpentines around the edge because I'd seen trainer do it...and we passed by the judge's stand with no issue...then got halfway down the long side and apparently some guy came out of the other judge's stand for the warmup right as I went by and horsie lost his mind, which was truly AWESOME because my entire fear that I posted about originally was based on horsie doing something I couldn't control...and remember that horsie has never done more than a minor shy with me...and this was an honest to goodness spook with a minor bolt (from a trot to a who knows what he did), and guess what I did?? I sat back instead of leaning forward and perching, I relaxed my legs, held the reins with my elbows, and we kept going!!! I didn't panic at all! Judge rang bell right after, trainer told me "GO IN NOW, he's fine!" and off we went. And the strangest thing happened as soon as we went through A...this sense of peace came over me. I thought to myself, I pay a boatload to board, train, keep him outfitted with everything, I bought these fancy white pants and white shirt, I paid for this show, I'm nice to this horse, I survived an honest to goodness no-sh*t spook, I've waited my entire life to do this (I'm 42, so it's been a few years...) and gosh darn it, I'm going to enjoy the crap out of this ride!! So I did!!

                                    So I had an absolute blast. Smiled like an idiot the entire time! There are many things I can say I could have done better...and I'm sure once I see the video I'll be cringing...but honestly, my head was totally in the game. I didn't forget my test, I tried to keep him round, when I felt him trying to do a 15 meter circle instead of 20, I pushed him out, I tried to relax, etc. I definitely could have been more relaxed, especially as the whole spook thing happened literally 20 seconds before I entered the arena, but I wasn't horrible. And I wasn't perched, and I never, never, NEVER panicked, which was what I was afraid of!!!

                                    So, then...our last canter depart (Training level 2) was at C right in front of the judge. I'm telling myself: we are so almost done with this test, and we're rocking it (meaning: I'm not panicking), so we're going to nail this canter depart right at C. So...I guess nail it we did... I sat, I put my left leg back, and I *ahem* asked for the canter apparently by sticking a hot poker in his poor right side...which is sooo not necessary with horsie...needless to say, I didn't get the canter I wanted, but I did get the canter I asked for!! He exploded!! I stayed calm again, and thank goodness I did the depart at C instead of waiting as I had the corner to attempt to slow things down and gather our wits...and I thought I was going to have to go off course and do a little 10 m or something...but nope...he LISTENED TO ME and settled as soon as I took the poker off of his side...and we got ourselves together so I was able to gently get him back on the rail and we did our 20 m circle somewhere near where we were supposed to .

                                    I was SOOOOOO happy!! Trainer was happy, my barn was so supportive and cheered me on! When I walked toward the judge, she said something like "more canter than you wanted, huh!" very kindly, so I told her that this was my first test ever and we were both new to this and she said something else supportive that I unfortunately cannot remember and smiled very kindly. That was so helpful. Really made me feel good.

                                    I was so happy!! I don't even remember leaving the arena, really. I just saw trainer with a big smile on his face, probably because our goal was for me to get through it, and not only did I get through it, but I got through it with two issues, both of which would have resulted in my dismounting and making trainer get on had I been at home . So I was forced to be a real dressage rider!!

                                    I know this is training level, and I know it's old hat for so many...but honestly, it felt so wonderful to be out there with him, enjoying myself, not scared to death, and most importantly, I met my goal of getting through it. Having the spook and explosion and remaining calm was a bonus that I never expected, but for which I am so grateful.

                                    Oh - so trainer later told me that he knew that horsie needed to get some energy out and that's why he didn't want me to stop warming up (meaning do much more canter work to tire him a bit). But he also said that he knew that if he told me WHY he wanted me to keep cantering that I would get freaked out. Trainer is very smart.

                                    I'm so in love with my horse - he did exactly what he was asked to do.

                                    We broke 60, to boot! Didn't expect that! I was very appreciative of the judge's comments. She was very kind to us in her comments: "he was a good boy for you," and on the canter explosion, he clearly had a very low score, but her comment was "exuberance." I'll say!!! But that was so much nicer than hearing "loser, you clearly bit off more than you could chew, you need to take off your spurs" Honestly, to someone new, it makes me want to go back for more. Don't get me wrong, her comments weren't all Pollyanna, but they were helpful and accurate. Clearly we knew that the canter explosion wasn't a good thing...and she scored him properly and then didn't dwell. Obvioulsy it wasn't my intended depart, and "exuberance" really made me laugh!

                                    The show itself was wonderful. It was a big show. GMO organized a progressive dinner, and everyone went around and mingled from tent to tent. I met so many people - especially some wonderful ladies from Agape Dressage in Tucson who have to be the best chefs around!! Apparently they're pretty good riders, too, as they only had blue ribbons! It was nice to be able to mingle with everyone instead of just passing by each other.

                                    How long will the rush last????

                                    I know that I was far from perfect, but I'm totally ok with that and am not going to analyze my mistakes until a few days from now. OMG I'm so proud of my nursery school level self and test . I don't care if we ever get past training level...that was F*U*N!!!

                                    So here is the link: I don't know how to separate the photos - so the ones of me in white shirt and white breeches are the ones from today. Note the spook and bolt photo.

                                    LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


                                    • #19
                                      I can just picture your smile - twice the size of the one I saw down here when you were watching him go!

                                      I hope you're as proud of yourself as your cyber support group is.

                                      Also - nice job keeping your hands down on the spook. I have a tendency to follow my horse's head up with my hands, which turns out to generally be pretty ineffective...
                                      If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                                      • #20
                                        Yay righthorse! Good for you! You guys look great together!