That question, or to be more precise that statement, was asked of me by PO. And the unfortunate answer to that question is yes, I really have lost my nerve. For the past two weeks riding has been no fun at all. I have not even had the balls to canter yet. It is horrible! It has been YEARS since I lost my nerve. I kind of forgot what it was like to be afraid to ride.
The sad part is that nothing really happened to make me this way. Yes, Phoenix has not been acting like himself, but that was only on the ground and I am sure bad weather and constantly learning new things did not help. I know a big part of my problem was all that time away from the saddle. It is killing me though that I love lost my nerve. Yesterday I had to sing the WHOLE TIME I was riding. He wasn’t even bad yesterday, just tense. I am sure the fact that I was wound up like a spring had something to do with that. It is so frustrating! The first week back I was getting better, but I just kind of stalled out.
It does not help when Phoenix is looking at everything, even though I rationally know that it is my fault he is looking around for trouble. His owner was riding in the lower ring the other day as I was lunging Phoenix and she saw firsthand how not good we were doing. Phoenix will look for something, which makes me want to look for something, which means I am not paying attention to him, which means he gets to do whatever he wants, so he takes off which finally causes me to pay attention so I have to correct the problem which usually involves lots of yanking on the line. There are about 100 ways I can stop the explosion from happening, I just was not able to see them on my own. It wasn’t until PO started yelling instructions at me for transitions, changing the size of the circle, parallel lunging, etc that I even realized what I was (or more accurately was not) doing.
Watching him explode on the line has made me not want to get on him, but I do anyway because I know I need to work through this, but both of us looking for trouble is not such a relaxing ride. It really has turned into a bad cycle. The good thing is that we are only 3 weeks in so it is not like I let this get too bad or let it stay that way for too long. The other good thing is that rationally I am not scared of Phoenix. I am just not. The other day when one of the yearlings got loose I stayed on Phoenix because I knew I would be safer on him then on the ground (the baby horse did not end up coming anywhere near the ring, but still). That was a good sign.
It is just so frustrating because show season is around the corner and I really just need to knock it off with this fear crap. Today I have a lesson with PO. She is going to ride Phoenix to warm him up. She is hoping that if I see him behaving correctly for her that will help. I hope so. She hasn’t been on Phoenix since December so regardless it will be good for Phoenix. It is just so frustrating because this is such a stupid self created issue! Wish me luck and bravery for today!