Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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).

1 comment:

  1. i mean, that was a VERY graceful fall!!! dealing with fear and riding (and specifically with jumping) is so hard for exactly the reasons you state: just bc we KNOW how to do a thing doesn't mean that the thing actually gets done... and really none of it ever makes any sense. it does get better tho - just keep pluggin away! also boo about saddle shopping... i probably have to go down that route again too and am not pleased about it... ugh.