Realistic Expectations

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.

But.

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.

The cleanest horse alive finally got some dirt on him.

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.

 

Third Lesson Not the Charm

Since he is apparently going to stick around the blog a bit longer (no one seems to ride him on my lesson days) the red giraffe, formally known as Cooper needs a bit more of a bio.

I like him in purple!


Cooper was purchased by my trainer in 2016 (I think) from his home where he was doing the equitation stuff at some of the rated shows.  I actually rode him right when he arrived and where I sort of blundered through our ride.  However, he was perfect, and didn’t put a toe out of line.  After joining the lesson program, a teen rode him and fell in love; so while he is technically a lesson horse, he only “teaches” randomly.  He’s a OTTB standing 16.2+ but all withers.  Very giraffe-like in appearance, but has fabulously easy canter to ride.  He’s quiet, but can get a little heavy.  Until last week I carried a stick just in case I needed back up.

Don’t let the sleepy giraffe fool you.


My first lesson was all peaches and cream.  Second lesson is discussed here.   Third lesson, this past week, oh HOLY HOT MESS. Cooper’s teen has been traveling this month, so his 5-6 days a week of exercise has ended up being more like 2 times a week.

Everything was so exciting!  Trotting circles, passing the broken arena door, the barn cat – the whole thing was pretty exhilarating to Coop. Points to my Roeckl’s for still sticking with me after the giraffe just went around and around.  I was also in tights for my lesson, which I almost never do (it was so humid) and I felt like my butt just slid everywhere in my saddle.

3 legged giraffe! 🙂


We made it through our warm-up, and at the trot, I actually had a few moments where I didn’t have to peer around his giant head to steer.  Yay?  I did have a big issue with the “whoa” this week.  It wasn’t much there.  Half-halts were turning into pulling fests, and I was losing ground.

We were both sweating extensively by the time jumping came around.  And even then, I couldn’t regulate his pace to save my life.  By the 2nd or third try to quietly canter a 18″ single I was pretty angry.  I know, anger has no place with horses and all that.  BUT.  It wasn’t that I was necessarily mad at him, but I was so angry that I couldn’t ride him. Sure, I did call him some…names…but what was most difficult to swallow was that I could not ride this mostly level headed, lesson horse who I have seen less experienced riders waltz around on.  Enter internal self-esteem tear down.

Was he rude?  Yes.  Was he dangerous?  Definitely not.  Was I so embarrassed and angry and wanting to scream?  Absolutely.

It’s been a long time since I felt as bad about a lesson as I did last week.  I know there were good moments, but it really did shake me up.  Change is hard you guys.

 

 

Lesson Kid Fails

I was apparently feeling a little big for my lesson kid britches after my lesson on the red giraffe.  This week I headed to my usual Wednesday night lesson outing, and after a rough few days at work, I was really excited to ride.  I listened to some jams to survive rush hour, had my riding clothes all packed up, leftovers were in the fridge for husband and child…I was feeling real good about life.

Except, you know, there were no lessons planned for that night.  But I didn’t know that.  Trainer was trying to get out of town to horse show.  I probably would known that if I had been a good lesson kid and checked the lesson board.  But that was a big nope.

Guys, it was so embarrassing.  Mainly because I kind of got choked up about it.  I wanted to ride so bad, but the show horses were all shipping out, lesson ponies had the day off, Dee was gone.  So you know, the smallest violin ever started playing for me.

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Thanks for the image google

Waving off my trainers apologies (because clearly not her fault) I made a mad dash to go hide in car in case I actually cried over my missed lesson.

I made it just about .5 mile down the road when I started getting texts from trainer.


This is why you pay them the “big bucks”. Because they get it.  They get how badly you might need to ride.

My trainer hung around until I got changed into riding clothes, tacked up her adorable schoolie, and hoped on.  Since I wasn’t sure what the plan was, I was even more excited when she stayed late for a private lesson for me.


This schoolie was new to me, and is such a classy gentlemen.  He was a tall, slim, flea-bit grey thoroughbred, who quietly loped around a little 2′ course with me, swapping his leads and happy ears the entire ride.  There were no great revelations from the lesson, other than to keep my leg on, but that wasn’t the point.  The point was that my trainer was right.  I needed to get on a horse.  To cool him out, she shooed us outside and we took a nice solo wander around the barn property.  It was exactly what I needed.  Trainer is on the road for a bit, but there are local shows to cheer on friends at soon and that will be the perfect distraction!

He got all the pets and treats for giving up his night off for me to ride!

 

February Schooling Show

Since our facility was hosting another show at the end of February, Dee and I were all set to go out and bop around the 2’6” classes again. The week of we had some good rides, some meh rides, and decided that schooling the morning of the show wasn’t worth the details.  I know that if I’d been on O again, I would’ve had a meltdown…and I’m guessing we would’ve had like 10 stops (one for each fence).  However, I felt pretty good about going in on Dee.  She doesn’t have a stop button, so I figured we’d be fine.

Okay so onto the media stuff: I do not remember the order, so I’m just winging it.  I believe there were 8 or so of us in these classes?  Also, my saddle pad does NOT fit Dee’s saddle.  I refuse to buy a saddle pad for her because I have no idea if we’ll show again.  So ignore the eye sore please.  Anyway.  Off we go.

We won this class (below).  The outside line by the crowd isn’t perfect, I avoided the chip, but had an ugly takeoff.  But I loved the way we rode this long approach green oxer and I think the diagonal rides really nice, even if we both got a little quick over the fence.

 

We got 2nd in this class.

It rode really nice, Dee couldn’t stop staring at the really bright sunspot in the corn of the ring, and cut it too close on the crowd outside line’s single.   But overall, happy with this round.

We got 3rd in this class.  I believe this was equitation, and  I was the only rider to ditch her coat for a sweater.  Worth it.  This round was fine, nothing glamorous, and I feel like maybe I couldn’t let off the gas pedal a bit.  I definitely had enough horse.

Dee and I also picked up a 2nd on the flat for under saddle, and a 5th on the flat for equitation.  The week before my trainer was calling this a sweater/winter coat affair…but then everyone showed up in jackets.  Except for me.  (wah wah)  It wasn’t a huge deal, but do feel like I was a little under dressed.  I guess I need to finally buck up a buy a new jacket eh?

feb show

At the end of the day I was so pleased with Dee.  All of her family was there (showing/riding/cheering) so I was even more happy to give her a decent ride.  Trainer was happy, horse was happy, I was happy==big time win.

Dee and I had a quiet week last week because of my 3rd (and hopefully last) bout with the stomach flu.  Day care is atrocious sometimes.  Good think kids are cute, because they are little germ cities.  Fingers crossed this week we’ll be able to get back to regularly scheduled programming.

November Questions

Thanks L!

How old is the youngest/greenest horse you’ve ridden? 4-5 year old sale gelding back in the high school days.
How old is the oldest horse you’ve ridden? Is dinosaur a term?  We had this ANCIENT school horse who had to be pushing 27+ when I first started riding.

Were you scared of horses when you first started riding? Nope, it was sheer joy.

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Always smiles!

Would you say you’re a more nervous rider or a confident rider? Most days I’m pretty confident.  I will say that I am very self-preservation based though.  Do not like getting hurt.

Biggest pet peeve about non-horse people around horses? Hmmm good question.  Maybe when they talk about the time they rode and the horse acted up and it was “so bad”.  Whatever peeps.

A time you’ve been scared for your life?  I recently rode a friends horse who kind of lost her mind with me and was WILD.  I very rarely feel as scared as I was on her.  It was not okay, and I was afraid both of us were going to get hurt.

Have you ever fallen off at show? What happened? I like to fall off in schooling, so usually the night before.  When I was 11 I was doing a little bareback class and the old man Morgan horse I was riding bounced me right off at the trot.  I guess that counts too?

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Didn’t fall off it this show-shocking.

What’s a breed of horse you’ve never ridden but would like to ride? Bring me all the pony breeds.  But it would need to be a large, because I’m 5’10”.  I never got to suffer the wrath of the tiny ponies, and miss it!

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Comparing leg lengths to Deedees.


Describe the worst behaved horse you’ve ridden? Sadly I would say that when we were still asking O to jump around, and she was blatantly not interested she could become pretty nasty.

The most frustrating ride you’ve ever had? Ugh, hands down.  This day.

 

Camera Roll Updates: October 2016 Edition

I had about 5 half finished posts that just didn’t seem to get done…and then life happened and I didn’t know how to catch up.  But now I’m decided-here’s the down low on where I’ve been/what I’ve been up to according to my phones camera roll (pretty this idea is stolen from Emma!):

Here we go!

I’ve been riding a lot.

Spot the baby keeping watch…

My daughter rode her pony of the first time.


And then, her first “full size” horse because it’s her Dads mare and we couldn’t resist how excited she was to see the horses.


I stole this spicy little western mare for the annual family trail ride.


I got rear ended on the highway and luckily was able to drive away.  Missed my riding lesson though.


I drank some wine.


I found this painting that I think I need for my dining room.


And I rigged up a new way to get snacks to #tinyequestrian while I ride.

Snacks buckled onto the little human.


I experienced my first Oktoberfest!  Then split a bottle amongst work friends on a downtown rooftop.


Also, she stands and kind of walks…lord help us!


Goals for the next few weeks:

1. Get some media of the fancy Deedee in action!

2. Actually finish a blog post, or thought or….

Back on Course

My path back to being fit and able to ride less like a drunk monkey, and more like myself has been sporadic.  But I do have good news.  Last week I was able to school a horse I had never ridden over a full course…twice.

Oh and I didn’t die.

Yes, he was another schoolie who knows not to waste energy on shenanigans, but still.  Baby steps people.

I’m starting to remember pace, I’m remembering where the distance is, and I’m remembering that I do really enjoy this!  I had a clingy moment during the ride and tried to put in 4.25 strides in a 4.  Immediately I went into survival mode, full expecting to get tossed over a shoulder.  But the saintly gelding just sighed and put in the biggest, ugliest chip stride I’ve seen in a long time, and popped over.  So I guess the drunk monkey riding isn’t gone forever, but those moments are getting further apart.

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Throwback to super fit Genny.

This weeks lesson, it was reinforcing pace and steadiness.  I was back on my handsome friend Grover, and as long as I kept him nice and straight we bounced right through our poles, and over the bending line without any issues.  In fact I even felt like I could keep my leg in place and really sit up through the little course.  All signs of returning fitness I hope.

Of course with my returning fitness I can’t help but think forward to this summer!  I’m hoping to check off some items on my to do list, but most of all, just having a hell of a good time doing what I love!  Bring on all the horses.

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