Sunday, September 6, 2015

Why I Don't Ride

I am looking, as is becoming a familiar feeling to me, at a ridiculously busy next few months.  It feels like the last year and a half has been either me dreading the start of a busy time, or impatiently awaiting whatever time I think I'll next be able to finally catch my breath. It feels right now like this might be my life from now on.  Just running from one thing to another. One period of insanity to another too-short interim break.  I really understand why this is one of the most common times in their lives when people sell their horses.

I should pause a moment to say this, I AM NOT SELLING MY HORSE. I got her when she was 3 and I'm planning (and hoping) to have her the rest of her life. 

Speaking of, look at adorable baby Jazz from her sale photo!

So classes begin next week.  And I am looking at excruciatingly long days for months. I'll be lucky if I see the sun, much less the little red horse.  At this point, it also looks like I might not be taking any lessons until the New Year.  Hello, life of a weekend warrior (goodbye, sleek, fit summer Jazz). 

In addition to my schedule restraints, I have a serious motivation problem.  At no point am I at the farm with my horse, wishing I were at home watching Netflix, and yet it's disproportionately hard to get myself changed and out the door to go see my horse.  If I'm seeing my friends during the day with plans to ride  later in the evening, the odds are about 50/50 that I'll make it to the barn instead of going out for food with friends (where I'm sure to bore and confuse my city-dwelling friends by talking constantly about horses anyway).  There's also a semi-regular shuffle of which vehicle is the farm vehicle.  The idea of moving around the many boxes and bins and bags that are all somehow necessary to my equestrian pursuits is enough to delay my drive to get out of the house by at least half an hour.

Is it just me? I hate how I can't just get out and do the things I know I'll enjoy.  I hate it.  But it's hard to change. Lately by the time I made it out, the weather's been turning bad, and the visit gets cut short because the horse is miserable (and so am I, what month is this, November? It's ridiculous).

And just to twist the knife a little, this summer I finally got to see firsthand how Jazz improves under regular work.  I was taking two lessons a week, and riding (ideally) two to three times outside of that, and preparing for my (semi-disastrous) PC testing.  It was so great to see how Jazz was getting stronger and suppler, and I was improving and making a real difference.  And then I got a bad cold, complete with a cough so bad I couldn't be at the dusty barn for longer than fifteen minutes.  My summer with Jazz ended with me hardly even able to see her as I tried desperately to get better.  And now? I'm not even out until after 5PM on the days when my schedule is good. I'm driving twice as far as I'm used to almost every day, and I'm having a total pity party for myself over all of it.    It's enough to keep me from being excited about any of it right now.  Here's to keeping my head down till 2016, and counting my blessings in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bonus post: New Helmet!

My most exciting birthday present (from nearly a month ago, oops) by far was a gift certificate to go and buy myself a new helmet.  Here's a couple of photos of it in action (aka me holding Jazz's reins since I never seem to remember to request photos while I'm actually doing anything).

Mmm Charles Owen. I'd better start wearing pearls... (X

This picture turned out really awkward of me, but pony is extra cute. 

Fear itself

"...the  only thing we have to fear is fear itself."  -FDR

I have a fear. A paralyzing fear. And I have a fear of that fear. I very rationally should either not be afraid, or I should not do the thing that scares me.  This is apparently not my way. I also know the fear is my biggest problem, I tend to throw up my hands (figuratively... most of the time) and kind of try flailingly to somehow make it through.

This is the cause of significant issue due to the fact jumping scares the bajeezes out of me. And right now I'm doing it maybe three times a week (sometimes less). Last week I was in a private lesson where the flat was perfect and literally all of my wheels fell off the second the standards and poles got lugged out. I understand a lot of things in principle.  I know you just keep your eyes up, heels down, toes forward, squeeze tight with your lower legs, keep your back straight, follow with your arms, trot in canter out, downward transitions by stopping in your body not with the reins, breathe, blink, etc, etc, etc.  I also know I can know these things all I want as I make a decent line at a good forward trot, and proceed to do few (or none) of the above on the actual jumping part. The jumps where I manage to do things kind of right are not based on any actual skill, or timing, or learning. More or less fluke outliers, not worth considering in the scheme of my riding ability.

I had a riding exam about a week and a half ago where I went over maybe six jumps of the smallest possible introductory size.  I proceeded to fall off on my first attempt and be jumped way, way out of the tack on every single other. On top of this, I was told what has come to be my all time least favourite (non-life threatening) type of news.  Have you guessed it? If you thought, "Your saddle doesn't fit", then DING DING DING, you win! I just got this new saddle. I don't think I've owned it a month. It seems to be twisting. The prospect of saddle shopping is kind of strange in a way, because if I were doing it voluntarily I think it would probably be super rad (I think it would be comparable in excitement to if I were able to buy suuuper nice tall boots). But though saddle shopping means new saddle, it also means trying saddles (literally worse than scrubbing really scummy water troughs). I'm going to talk to some people, see if there's something I can do, maybe get it reflocked or something. That on top of the disaster that was most of the rest of the test, made it not the best day.

Fortunately, I did manage to pass my riding test! (Which qualifies me for a rather exciting event in the fall that I'm hoping to blog about!!!) Each movement of the required elements is scored out of 10, with 10 being excellent, 0 being you literally didn't even try, and 6.5 being sufficient (with a 65% required in order to pass the riding element).  My jumping recieved a 5.5.  5 is insufficient, and 6 is almost sufficient, so my jumping overall is almost almost sufficient.  I had a good laugh over that.  A 3 is rated as bad, so I'd definitely hate to see what a jumping score of 3 is.

I also had another pony club lesson two days later.  The exercise set up was two jumps  perpendicular to the rail and set off the track at E and B respectively, with one fence set up in the center of the ring on the diagonal. There were three of us riding, and one part of our warmup was a spiral in at the trot until we all ended up in a small circle nose to tail. It was interesting the different challenge of doing the exercise with other people.  Then, one at a time we worked over the jumps, starting at E, then the diagonal, then around to B. We started at a trot, and the goal was to get a canter transition over the poles and canter out, transitioning back to the trot between fences.  The first couple attempts I only managed to get the canter about a stride after the fence.  Then the other girls in my lesson both took a turn and I tried again with more success.  I was worrying too much about the fence when all I really needed to do was worry about timing my transition.  Really it's no different than working on the flat, trying to get a transition in a particular place like in a dressage test.  Tell that to the fear.  I also ended up doing the exercise the same, except only trotting to the first fence and cantering the rest.  It was a hot mess the first time, but the second I pulled myself together we actually accomplished it quite capably.  To go and show what a well behaved, excellent horse I have, she even did a flying change when she picked up the wrong lead after the second pole. Fancy mare.

I also, fortunately, know how to laugh at myself.  I was at a charity casino for my local equestrian park recently, and one of the ladies there showed us a video of her daughter's stadium round at a recent event.  She's a really great rider, and it sounds like she did really well.  I, naturally, responded by pulling up the video of myself at the first jump and showing it around.

(Here, enjoy a terrible quality cell phone video and take a moment to remember it's okay to laugh at yourself... that, and my horse is basically a saint for not completely turfing me).