This post is inspired by the thoughtful comment that EquiNovice left on my last post, while I was lamenting about how I have been crying my way through recent lessons. She mentioned that managing your own expectations were some of the hardest part about not being in a consistent riding program. That was a huge ah-ha moment for me.
From an outsiders perspective, if you had been watching my last lesson on Cooper you would’ve seen a woman who is struggling to not pull on a more forward horse. You might have seen a few awkward frog hop jumps, and heard said woman shout some angry words (bad habits die hard). But generally, there was nothing catastrophic happening. No one fell off. No refusals. No galloping away wildly. Just ugly jumps and some flowery words.
That was not how I saw it. I went from owning O, to riding some sale horses, a few schoolies, to leasing Dee. 99% of the time I felt very confident on these animals. I knew I was capable of riding them and looking (within reason) okay doing it. Obviously there were challenges, but nothing significant that stands out to me now. They helped me, and I felt good about myself as a rider.
When I hopped on Cooper those first rides, and it went so badly, I was honestly confused. I’d seen much less experienced riders take him around without a single issue. Why was I struggling so much? My expectation is that I should not only be able to ride this dude, but also do it well. Yet everything I did seemed to set him on fire. Our flatwork has improved, buuuuttttt I still manage to turn him into Seabiscuit over fences. I couldn’t even stop him in a straight line. Even with my confidence at a high I can feel how hard these rides have been on me mentally. All because my expectations for the ride were “ruined”.
It made me question buying another greenie – was I even capable of bringing it up correctly? It made me wonder what I was even doing riding? I mean, after 15 odd years of riding, I probably should be able to direct my horse over a cross rail.
Please note that I am not saying I’m God’s gift to horsekind – but I truly felt I should be able to ride better than I have been. Maybe Cooper and I just don’t mesh. Maybe it’s because I have not been riding consistently. Maybe it’s just been an unlucky few weeks. In my opinion, it’s probably a combination of all of those. Regardless of all of that, I’m trying to spend some time before my lesson really resonating on the idea that I am only riding once a week right now, and I’m in this for the fun part. I must alter my expectations.
I don’t need to be expecting to be the exact same rider I was in the past, when I was doing more. That is going to lead me down a dark path every ride! I just need to be able to learn, and manage my personal standards for my riding. Maybe then I can learn to enjoy my rides more.