So I haven’t been posting on this blog as much as I would like lately, and it really just comes down to the fact that nothing fun, exciting, or noteworthy has been happening in my equestrian life. It’s only really fun to post things that are “cool” and not as much fun to discuss the daily minutiae and/or struggles.
But after some thinking, I realized the daily minutiae is something all of us equestrians face week to week month to month, and one thing we all have in common no matter how long you have been riding, what your goals are, or how high you jump.
After I finally curated all my show outfits this winter and we were ready to go, the spring and early summer have failed to live up to my plans and expectations full of Hunter pacing and doing all the shows. This is pretty much due to my horse being a pro-level self injurer. I have been left feeling really disappointed sitting on the sidelines.
And to add insult to injury, from not really riding and from not jumping at all for a while, I am finding myself feeling scared of things that used to be “normal” for me.
I watched videos yesterday of my horse and I jumping courses from last summer and the thought of doing them makes my heart beat a little faster and my chest feel slightly like I can’t breathe. I know both my horse and I are physically capable, so I just want to kick myself.
Little spooks that used to make me chuckle now make me want to go ride in the indoor where there are no distractions. Trails I used to gallop down now make me so nervous I want to take a chokehold on my horse’s face (which obviously makes things better….. NOT)
Needless to say, I am admitting that I have really been riding the struggle bus.
Has anyone else been there? Secrets to exiting the struggle bus and becoming braver!?
Some time ago I read Nicole’s post on Zen and the Art of Baby Horse Management regarding the trust bank, and recently this concept has really been resonating with me. Basically, the trust bank is a concept that you have an imaginary bank of trust between you and your horse. Each time you do something right, and improve your horse’s confidence in you, you make a deposit into the bank. Each time you do something wrong, be it totally botch a distance to a jump that your horse has to save you (totally guilty of this one), or lose your patience during a ride, you withdraw from the bank.
As of the past month, I have really been working on being in the moment with each ride (inspired by Emily’s post on the Exquisite Equine), and riding the horse that I have, not the horse that I want. I have also focused on being positive, practicing an insane amount of patience, and just really being the rider that I continually strive to be.
I am not going to say that it was totally easy. There were some rides where I had a rough day at work or other stress and we just hacked out that day on the buckle and did no real work, because I knew that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. However, I think that by doing all of the above, I have made significant deposits into my “trust bank” with Mabou.
He normally takes his time moseying over to me when I go to bring him in for our rides. But the past couple of weeks he sees me walking up to his paddock and is at the gate right when I get there. He is always a happy horse, but he just seems so much more content, and much more willing to try since he has realized that I am not going to pick fights with him over little things that aren’t going well in my rides, even when we work on our more difficult flatwork, or things that we may be struggling with.
Even more, I am enjoying my rides so much when I get myself into the right mental state of gratitude. It is so rewarding to celebrate the good in each ride (however small) rather then let myself ruminate on the things that I couldn’t get right each ride. I genuinely hope that if I keep this up long enough then I won’t have to try and I will eventually become second nature.
Does anyone else also believe in the “trust bank” with your horse?
So last night my friend and I made plans to meet after work and ride together. We set up some cavaletti exercises in the indoor to spice up our ride.
Our first exercise was simply 3 trot cavaletti. Mabou did good with this, although he is always highly suspicious with cavaletti and will insist on walking through the first few times.
Then we decided to make the center cavaletti a slightly raised cavaletti (about 6 inches off the ground) to make them really work and pick up their feet. Well, this new development rocked Mabou’s world. At first he tried jumping the whole thing, then he actually trotted through properly a few times, but each time he became more and more worried until he started refusing it.
The spacing was fine, friend’s horse was ok and the times Mabou went through he was ok. I ultimately ended up getting off and jogging Mabou through the exercise by hand (and simultaneously realizing how out of shape I have become when I couldn’t breathe after). He was still very worried but figured it out.
Does anyone else’s horse have an anxiety attack from cavaletti? Or is this just a sensitive TB thing?!
The first lesson gets down to basics, covering the use of cavaletti poles. What a great idea to watch these video lessons on days that it is too cold to ride, and work on the cavaletti exercises, which are a great alternative to jumping for those of us who are stuck riding inside for the season.
Although I can’t currently ride my horse at the moment, I am still thinking ahead to some things I would like to work on this winter. Like many people probably do, my trainer puts most of the jumps away for the winter, and we are limited to 4 or 5 jumps until spring time. Here are a few interesting exercises that can be done during the winter with limited jump availability.
My lesson was great today! Mabou looked pretty sleepy beforehand but he certainly woke up as soon as we started jumping!
We did a few courses with the jumps set at 2’9″- 3′, and really worked on me being straight. My problem is that my right shoulder is more forward then my left… which I adamantly blame on the fact that I sit at a desk all day writing with my right arm forward and using my mouse with my right arm forward. Soooo basically I need to quit my job to better my riding. His lead changes were excellent though, so at least I must have been somewhat centered for those.
I also broke out my new black monogrammed saddle pad! Love it!! Today I ordered a helmet monogram and a horse jumping monogram decal for my Macbook and iron on monograms for my TS breeches! Monogram crazy today!
I just finished reading a new book recently, and since I am always looking for good horse books (and maybe you guys are too) I thought I should share! It’s called Ambition by Natalie Keller Reinert and it is about a young eventing trainer. I couldn’t put it down, the author did a great job capturing the accurate equestrian experience. I got it from Amazon for those who want to check it out!
Although I don’t have a single photo or video, believe me when I say my lesson was FABULOUS! It was the kind of lesson that leaves you grinning and on cloud nine for the rest of the day because your horse was so amazing! We worked on really being straight on the long sides and bending through the corners in our flatwork warm up, then did some big serpentines with flying changes in the center (pony was excellent). As for jumping, we did a bunch of single fences with big rollbacks to really make me sit up, rock him back and collect him and bend through the turns. He felt like BUTTER, bending and collecting felt effortless. What a good boy, he worked so hard today.
It is finally cold enough to break out the sheets. As you see above, his sheet is very manly indeed. The mares love it! And… check out this matchy matchy fun
I just love it… Can’t wait to get a photo of the two of them together!