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Having training schizophrenia...need suggestions b/f event Sunday!

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  • Having training schizophrenia...need suggestions b/f event Sunday!

    This might be long - sorry!

    My lovely boy, Oliver, is one tough ride. He's tough because he's very squiggly and hard to keep straight, and I've been struggling with him off and on with our dressage and jumping. Lately, I've accepted the fact that scores in the low 20's just ain't gonna happen, and I've been content with my low 30's scores. XC is not a problem. He rocks around XC at Novice easily. It's stadium.

    I am training with two of the top people in the industry (they work together) and they are having me ride to the jump concentrating on keep his poll UP and having enough pace. This requires a lot of kicking his head up (he likes to curl and drop on the forehand), keeping the pace forward, and not allowing him to run through my hands. He likes to run through my hands on the forehand and then run past his distance, and then he stops. He doesn't stop at BN, but when the jumps get to Novice, he'll stop if he runs and gets too deep. I had a show at Novice a month ago, and I got flustered in stadium and managed to jump an oxer backwards, which resulted in a TE, but they let me run XC and he was a superstar.

    My current trainer is at Bromont, and will be gone for the next week or so, and suggested that I take a lesson from the father of her partner (I'm sure you can guess who these people are). She wanted to make sure I had help at the upcoming show Sunday, but since I have never trained with him before, I took a lesson, first. HE wants me to ride in a totally different way. My last lesson with my current coach resulted in a couple of stops due to me being nervous and him running through my aids again. The father of my current coach (let's call him Coach Senior) had me warm up over a little skinny rolltop, focusing on straightness, which Oliver jumped with ease, and then after jumping a few narrow lines, had me canter up to a Novice sized brick wall. Well, Oliver spooked at it and I'm sure that the stops from the lesson before carried over, and he stopped. Coach Senior told me that I was too busy with my hands about three strides away from the fence, and was going too fast, which caused the stop. He had me focusing the entire time on keeping my hands very low and still, keeping the same huntery-type of canter, and really releasing two strides in front of the fence, telling me that Oliver and I had some trust issues. I didn't even realize that I was doing anything backwards with my hands (my current two coaches have never commented on it). However, it worked beautifully. Keeping a soft rein and cantering around, Oliver stayed soft, didn't run through my aids, and stayed straight. We didn't do a whole lot more than those few jumps (the two skinnies and the stone wall). Coach Senior said that Oliver was quite a nice horse, wanted to be good, but that I was distracting him on the way to the jump by getting busy with my hands and we had stopped trusting each other.

    This Sunday I had entered him back into Novice, but Coach Senior said that I'm/we're not ready and that he thinks we should do BN instead. I feel like a failure - I've been trying to get up to Novice with this horse for YEARS. And I'm not exaggerating when I say years. I got this horse barely under saddle as a 6 yr old, and we did two Maidens and moved up to BN, and there we sit. This is not my first time at Novice - I've had several horses I've trained up through Novice. I've been told it's a mental issue and not a training issue. However, Coach Senior says it's both. I don't know what to do. I know we've lost confidence in each other (pony and I) and I'm not sure that doing stadium would be that great for either of us, but I definitely want to go XC at Novice.

    My options are to A) scratch from the show and stay at home and work on the things that Coach Senior had me working on, and then enter the July HT back at Novice, or B) drop down a level and swallow my pride.

    "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

    So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."

  • #2
    Drop down and have a good confidence boosting time. You can re-upgrade at the next event if you are feeling ready.
    Boss Mare Eventing Blog


    • #3
      Drop back - If it goes well, you can go on being super confident. If you go Novice and it goes badly, you've set yourself back yet another month. Is there a schooling Novice you can do soon after this BN?

      That is great, however, that the new set of eyes picked up on something that has really made a difference for you. What a great feeling to suddenly have everything go "ahhhh, that's how it's supposed to be". Also don't forget that in a competition, you might not be able to be as perfect as you are schooling this new stuff, and the old habits might show up on you.


      • #4
        It sounds like you made serious progress with Coach Senior. I would follow his suggestions, dropping back won't hurt you. Remember... This appears to be more about your horse than you (meaning he needs the extra confidence), so don't think of it as swallowing your pride. Think of it as letting your horse have another run at a comfortable level so your next novice run will be even better.


        • #5
          Ride what's best for the horse and its future develop (without ego involved).
          I.D.E.A. yoda


          • #6
            It sounds like the old way wasn't working - and so far the new way is.

            You may have worked for years, but you are only *just starting* with the new philosophy about trusting your horse and letting him go forward. You basically just got a good dressage lesson over fences, so think of it as starting anew, rather than stagnation.
            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.


            • #7
              The horse could care less what color the numbers on the jumps are painted.

              What is your goal in the big picture? Will one choice or the other help you reach that goal in the best way?

              I move my horses up and down from one level to the other constantly. It is nothing to do with "pride" and everything to do with my goals for that weekend, that month, that horse, that year, and of course how prepared we are for that event.
              Click here before you buy.


              • Original Poster

                All right, y'all have talked sense into me. When I talk about "pride", what I really mean is that a lot of my friends who know me and know this horse have basically told me to suck it up and just "do it" - meaning, make the move to Novice. I was hesistant about dropping down a level because I didn't want to weasel out due to me being a bit of a perfectionist. However, since Oliver's confidence in me has been rattled, it makes sense to move down to a level where we're BOTH comfortable and then progress from there. I just wish there was a way we could do the Novice dressage and XC, and do the BN stadium!

                I've called the event organizer and we're dropping down a level. Thanks for the advice!
                "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                • #9
                  I can understand the pride thing. It is also VERY hard for me to drop down a level.. even when every fiber of my being realizes it is the best choice. I can tell myself that it is not that I suck or that my horse sucks but that it is what is best for us. But it still hurts. I understand it, I get it, I even want to drop back down. but there is that little bit of my brain still saying "Failure, you suck"... So I get it. But you know what.. .sometimes you just have to say "brain.. fine, whatever... but we're still doing it this way and you can get over it".. and then you do. And you realize that it definitely was the right choice and then you can carry on and make progress

                  I agree with the others.. Drop back down and get a GOOD run in. Especially if you are changing things. You don't want to be changing your ride while also worrying about the bigger fences. (not that you're worried, but you know what I mean).

                  Good luck and have fun!!! Ultimately, that's what it is all about


                  • #10
                    I once asked Nad Noon how to avoid show nerves. Can't even remember the context, since we barely have a nodding acquaintance and I don't train with him or anything. But I loved his one word answer: "OVERPREPARE".
                    Click here before you buy.


                    • #11
                      If your friends give you crap for moving down, pick new friends


                      • #12
                        Also, you've had one lesson with this new style - best to practice it in a lower stress environment. You made the right decision! Good luck and have fun!
                        The big man -- my lost prince

                        The little brother, now my main man


                        • #13
                          One thing to remember is, it's three phases, not two
                          All of them have to jive at the same level before you can do the move up!

                          Sounds like you've made a good choice by your horse and yourself
                          All that is gold does not glitter;
                          Not all those who wander are lost.
                          ~J.R.R. Tolkien


                          • #14
                            When something's not working, it's often very good to have another set of eyes look at it. Is there a chance that you can ride with Senior more often? Sounds as though he hit your nail on the head and continued work with him will do you & horse a lot of good.

                            And in answer to your question, I believe I'd try to ride one more time this week with Senior, then do the BN (if they'll let you drop down). Or stay home.
                            Equine Photography in the Northeast


                            • #15
                              Is getting some coaching from Sr at the schooling day an option? (And if so, does he think it's a good idea? ) Sr does know a thing or two. I would go with his suggestions.



                              • #16
                                I think that some people have a better eye for detail, so while it may be true that you need to get his poll up and his head out of your lap, they may not be aware that you are riding backwards to do it. You might also not be aware. Some riders have difficulty translating things as trainers because they are more natural at things, so if Jr trainer (I have no idea who they are by the way) is always a legs on forward go kind of person they might not consider that you are not.

                                I wanted to point that out because I didn't want you to get discouraged about your riding/coaching at this point.

                                I would enter your horse at BN because the lower more confident height will allow you to focus on your huntery canter and still hands, then move him up.

                                I have also gotten to a show and went "holy crap," moved down, and felt like a failure for doing so. In the long run it's about doing what's right for you and the horse and not about pleasing other people.


                                • #17
                                  Oh my gosh, I'm so grateful you started this thread. My brain has been stuck on Saturday as show day. I would've been all dressed up for the dance on the wrong day

                                  Sounds like you're doing the right thing for yourself and your boy. I understand the frustration and have waddled around in that pond plenty myself.

                                  Glad you had a good breakthrough! It's humorous because those three people are so close but have very different styles (to my eyes anyway, I only really know 2 of them).

                                  See you SUNDAY
                                  Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

                                  The Grove at Five Points


                                  • #18
                                    There is a reason why you can say "I train with Coach Senior" in, oh, Timbuktu, and people nod knowingly instead of saying "Who?"

                                    Third Charm Event Team


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Fleck - thanks for understanding. I've been at BN for so long with this horse that I'm pretty bored at this level. For some reason, though, the jump (pun intended) to Novice stadium seems huge to me. However, the XC doesn't really phase me at all. Weird, no?

                                      DW - love that bit of advice. It helps me feel better about my neurotic tendencies to "get everything right" before I spend money to compete, even at a schooling show. I do plan on going to a schooling jumper show the following week to work on my show nerves.

                                      JLE - You know, you're right. Who cares what others think (well, I do, but I need to stop doing that!)

                                      asterix - very good point indeed. Since we only ride at about 60% our ability when we're nervous, it makes sense to practice the newer stuff until it becomes a habit, rather than adding the stress of a show to it. Thanks!

                                      nsrider - why, oh why, can't we pick our phases? Or better yet, tag team it? Have someone do the dressage, another do the stadium, and let me do the XC?

                                      Jeannette - actually, Coach Senior said that if he has time, he'll help me, but he has a ton of other students going to the show who are regulars and deserves more of his time first. he'll at least be eyes on the ground there in case I get myself into trouble.

                                      enjoytheride - thanks for the encouraging words. You're right - I was getting discouraged, a bit, about this, but you're right about the different things that people notice. It's nice to know that others have been in the same boat as me.

                                      Acme - glad to help! Will you be schooling your fabulous boy Saturday? It's funny, isn't it - those three either work together closely or learn from each other, and they're very different? The reason why my primary coach had me take that lesson from Coach Senior was that she thought that he would be teaching me the same stuff that his son and she teach - not so much. I wish she was around to discuss this with, but I'll have to wait until after Bromont to do so.

                                      Jennifer - good point, and point made. No matter what people say about him, he's certainly earned his stars, hasn't he?
                                      "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                                      So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                                      • #20
                                        Sometimes, I find that although I think two different instructors are saying different things, once I break it down, and digest the difference between what the instructor said versus how I executed it, the messages are not very different. So sometimes, I have had an instructor say, "more impulsion", which I erroneously interpreted as "more speed", then another instructor tells me to slow the horse down, but what they both wanted was a compressed, energetic, but not frenetic, canter. Does that make sense? The underlying message is the same, it was my interpretation that made it sound different.

                                        In any case, glad that Senior is working for you. Hope you have a great, confidence building event.

                                        From another person who cannot seem to get above Novice. Now that I have had my horse retired since 2008, I doubt that I could even get around today's Novice courses.