Yeah, So I am just going to stand in my own way okay?

So I had a disastrous lesson on Saturday. Let’s put it this way, it was the first time in a LONG time that I didn’t even want to get on! Now, the good thing about being with the same trainer for almost 15 years is that she knows you so well that even when you have an issue filled day, she can still get you though it. So what happened? This is going to be a long story so bear with me.

My friend Ktyln615 came down for a visit so I was looking forward to using my lesson to show off to her how well I was doing. She has been my friend since I first started riding dressage so I was hoping that she would see all the progress I have made in the last 9 years. So I get to the barn a little late and I see my trainers trainer tacking up. I start to stall. My trainers trainer is a professional and she is super focused when she rides. Even on a good day in a lesson I do not have half the focus on my trainers trainer. You can I am sure see how a focused rider and an unfocused rider could have some trouble in the ring! So I stalled. Instead being 10 minutes late to my lesson (which is normal for me) I stalled for a full 30 minutes! My trainer finally came down to the barn and with Ktlyn615’s encouragement as well, I headed up to the ring.

My confidence was already shattered at this point. I turned into a giant worry wart and as we all know, confidence is a HUGE part of good riding. So the snow was dropping off the roof of the indoor as we walked in the ring causing the poor SchoolMaster to have a heart attack. This caused me to have a heart attack. Not good people, not good.

I really wanted to ride still though so I put my big girl panties on, took a few deep breaths and got on. I don’t know how to describe what I was feeling. I don’t want to say that it was a loss of nerve because I got on and wanted to ride. It was a loss of confidence of some sort though because I was sure that I couldn’t handle it if the SchoolMaster was bad, and thus I was freaking out trying to prevent him from looking at anything so he wouldn’t be bad.

Lucky for me the SchoolMaster was bored after having done nothing all week so he didn’t care that I was a nervous wreck, he just wanted to be ridden. He is so freaking cute! He set about doing his job and I set about becoming the most tense rider you have ever seen. The worst part of it all was the fact that I KNEW this was my issue and that I was the one reason I was not having a good lesson.

It was so horrible. I really wanted to show Ktlyn615 how far I had come and instead I mentally let myself revert to the worthless rider I was a decade ago. If that is not self torture I don’t know what is. I stayed on a 20 meter circle most of lesson and the goal of my 20 minute ride ended up being just to relax enough to stop jumping at every noise. I am lucky that the SchoolMaster is such a good boy because instead of feeding off of my fear like a normal horse he kindly just ignored my fear of every shadow. We always joke that the SchoolMaster sees dead people, well on Saturday his psychic power was done and mine was all the way up 😛

The level of self loath that I felt as I barely trotted around is hard to describe. Once I had finally calmed down enough to have a nice relaxed walk on a long rein I called it a day. I thought my trainer would want to kill me, and I know that part of her did, but the rest of her was totally supportive. Her trainer even paid us a complement and so did Ktlyn615. It didn’t matter to me though. I knew I was a failure no matter what they said.

I guess the best way to describe my riding right now is fragile. It is like, when it is just my trainer, the SchoolMaster and I, I am fine. We do all sorts of crazy cool upper level things in those lessons. As soon as I lose what little focus I have my confidence is shattered. It shouldn’t matter who is in the ring with me or if the snow is coming off the roof. Yet it does. It is almost like I feel like my time with the SchoolMaster is so obstacle free that I am creating my own obstacle…myself.

I have ALWAYS had excuses in the past as to why I was a poor rider. I was riding my crazy Gen, or X who was being rehabbed with the broken hip. Phoenix was green and an Appy so no one cared if I didn’t do well on him. My show career is littered with great horses who had some big issues. The SchoolMaster is pretty darn close to perfect. I can’t use him as an excuse at all. So instead of elevating myself and being a great rider I am now making myself crazy and turning my craziness into an excuse. It is pathetic and I hate that I am doing it. The worse part is that I didn’t even realize that I was doing until Saturday.

All I have wanted was the gift of a fancy horse that knew stuff. I have it and now it is freaking me out.

I don’t have a lesson this weekend so I am going to have to wait another 12 days to ride again. I am sure I will spend a good part of those 12 days in a state of self loathing for being such a baby. I really like the SchoolMaster. Why can’t I get my act together?


12 thoughts on “Yeah, So I am just going to stand in my own way okay?

  1. To me a crappy lesson is like riding a test at a show. It is an opportunity to learn from the mistakes so you can make DIFFERENT ones next time ;o)

    Seriously, every movement in a dressage test gives you the chance to see where you are “in the moment.” Maybe your leg yields are SUPER at home and failed big time in front of the judge. “Something” went wrong, and you need to work on fixing it.

    My goal is dressage is to develop a better FEEL so I can fix what is going wrong “in the moment” instead of thinking to myself, “Well, THAT sucked, but now I have the canter depart. Let’s see if I can do that.” Focus helps with feel, I think. There are times I do something and the instructor will say, “Good riding!” or “Good save!” or “Good correction!” and I have NO IDEA what I did or even what was happening that NEEDED fixing. I just know that I FELT “something” and did the right thing. (It’s a miracle).

    Bottom line: You had a crappy ride. Many factors entered into it, most of them NOT concerning you in the saddle. The stars were not aligned. Karma is a b-word. All that “stuff.”

    I tend to be focused for about two seconds when I ride at home, and then I think, “Okay, when I get home and get the stall cleaned and the horse’s goody bucket fixed, I need to do these ERRANDS to do, laundry, grocery shopping, decluttering the mail table, etc., and my mind goes totally out the window–it’s anywhere but with the horse. YOU had that kind of ride Saturday.

    Observe your trainer’s trainer. Emulate that “super” focus. Develop a routine that brings your focus inward. Follow that routine every ride until it becomes habit. You ride well. Just not Saturday. Next ride, like the next dressage test: Better.

  2. Riding is such a rollercoaster ride. We all have those sucky rides. Mine seem to come right after a fantastic ride or lesson when I am on top of the world, and the next time I get on I am so bad I am not sure I am facing the right direction.
    Riding is a mental game and you are losing the mental game by beating yourself up so badly all the time. I think your riding skills are not the problem, your mental skills are. If I spend as much time on positive thinking, visualizations, confidence building exercises as I do riding, I have fewer ‘loose nut behind the wheel’ days. Not none, but fewer.
    Delete some of that vocabulary like ‘failure’ and ‘can’t’ and ‘won’t’ and back to ‘failure’ again. I have only been reading your blogs for a short time and you call yourself a failure in nearly every post. You are obviously not a failure, you have already gone farther in dressage than I ever will and you are just starting with your own ambitions. But you describe yourself that way. Delete that word. Seriously.
    The next ride after a bad one will be better, it always is.
    And if you are not riding everyday, you really need to cut yourself more slack. That professional rider rides multiple horses everyday. 12 days between rides, I would probably forget how to get on. 🙂

  3. You are so hard on yourself. Stop it. Really. Take a deep breath and laugh about your foibles.Everybody has rides that are just a flop and it’s okay. Just thinking of a random example, you don’t make perfect pie crust every time you bake (as a matter of fact it will probably be worse when you have company) and you don’t pull all the various elements of the good dressage ‘recipe’ together with every ride.
    And don’t down play the pressure of that ride – in some ways riding in a show would be easier. You were riding in front of the trainer’s trainer, had snow coming off the roof and you had a friend with you who you wanted to demonstrate your skill to. That’s a lot! The snow alone always unsettles me even though my horse is very steady with it.
    Instead of interpreting what happened in the worst possible light, there are lots of other potential explanations. You listed them, you just don’t see them that way. For example, you’ve had a series of challenging horses to ride. This would erode your confidence. Your body and mind associate riding with pressure and anxiety even when the need for them is past. Now you need to take time to ride with just you, your teacher and the schoolmaster and build new memories. Gradually add more distractions and pressures. Please don’t take this ride as a sign of your failure.
    Sorry if I sound preachy. It just seems so sad that you’ve interpreted this as such a negative reflection on yourself. Be kind to yourself as I’m sure you would be to others.

  4. I’ve only been reading your blog for a short time, so I don’t ‘know’ you as well as some others…but you do seem to put yourself down a lot. Please don’t do that to yourself. I used to be my own worst critic. I always put way too much pressure on myself when people other than my trainer were watching me ride. Maybe you just need some time to ride and enjoy it without worrying about moving to the next level. Time in the saddle will take care of that. I am not currently riding because of physical issues and believe me-I would love to be-even though I know I am not even close to being considered a really talented rider. I never rode dressage-although I love watching the classes at shows. Give yourself credit for sticking with it…and learn to enjoy your time in the saddle. Riding really is a mind game sometimes. There are always ups and downs as we learn new things. Enjoy your horse! 🙂

  5. Ok first of all it was not a crappy lesson! The schoolmaster looked great, you did ride very well and I have seen how far you have come! We all have days where we arent ourselves and for one reason or another arent as confident. You have never been and never will be a worthless rider, so enough of that!! I know you wanted to show off doing tempis or half passes, but it wasnt the right day for it. Personally if I was riding and the snow was coming off the roof and I knew all the horses were scared, and my horse hadnt been ridden in a week I probably would have had a very similar ride. You need to believe in yourself more, and stop assuming that you will fail. There will be great moments and there will be not so great moments. But that is how you learn. You are an excellent rider so keep telling yourself that!!

  6. It is a challenge….a constant challenge. Dont’ be discouraged if you have a bad day, week, month, or whatever…just continue on and I’m SURE you have way more ribbons and good days than most, so keep your chin up and “KEEP CALM AND RIDE ON!” xo

  7. Have you heard of Jane Savoie? Many riders (some would say, the majority) have exactly the same feelings as you do.
    There are specific techniques you can use to turn this around. I daresay, you are already using them sometimes. Jane shows you how to not only use them sometimes, but have them become so much a part of your psychological fabric, that you really CAN overcome any obstacle.
    I am not giving her a testimonial here….because I am lucky to be one of those who has not felt nervous, or “less than”. But I became aware of Jane when searching for a way for my students to overcome fears, and turn negative self-talk (which is what you tend to do sometimes, also) into positive. I couldn’t help them, because I hadn’t experienced that. Does that make sense?
    Many people who feel that way think they are the only people in the world who feel that way, and Jane’s methods are extremely effective AND not difficult to apply.
    Here is a link to her website in case you want to look at it.

    Good luck, and let me know if it helps. 🙂

  8. Not sure how you’re feeling by now, but I know when I’m in the throes of the worst of my self-pity, -loathing, -etc. I don’t really want to hear, “It’s not as bad as you think” (even though it’s probably true!). I suggest a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream, some loud music – whatever distracts you. Then re-read the comment from the friend who actually SAW your lesson and knows it’s not as bad as you thought! Then picture how amazing the next lesson will be. Blogs are a great way to share frustrations, so hopefully you find some words of comfort in your readers’ comments.

  9. Be patient with yourself and no self-loathing. Move forward and think positive. Remember what we think we become so think of all the things you have accomplished over the past 9 years and be proud of yourself. Riding is not a goal it is a journey and with each horse that comes into your life to have new lessons to learn. We all have frustrating days and days of self-loathing and disappointments but those are the days that we learn to most about ourselves and our horse. When I am having one of those days I remember why I ride and my love for the sport and the animal and I end up with a big smile on my face.

  10. You are your own worst enemy. That’s for sure. As long as you tell yourself it’s going to be bad, it’s going to be bad.

    Your self talk sucks! No one can be confident when they are telling themselves they’re lousy at what they do. Your riding is improving just fine. It is your self talk that still sucks. If you can get a handle on that, the sky is the limit.

    Your friend, ktlyn615, is so right. Cut it out! That is the thing you need to change and everything else will follow.

    Also, how about thinking about that person in the ring or the snow falling off the roof as a good schooling opportunity instead of something bad. You’ll be surprise at how helpful that change in perspective can be.

    Hugs to you, girl! I wish you would treat yourself as good as you treat your horse. You deserve it!

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