The Lesson…

So let me start this post by saying that not a lot of you guessed correctly as to which “meal plan” was Gen’s! He was the one all the way to the right. F.F. stands for Farrier’s Formula and that and the wormer (which is a barn thing) are the only extra’s that my boy gets! For those of you who could not read the middle of the board it is for all of the horses and it says “Hay/Water as needed, carrots as desired, cookies for good boys and girls”. The other boarder was the one in the middle and the one of the left was the Barn Owner’s Mare. Now on to my lesson.

So I am aware that my issues at the moment are all mental. If you would have videotaped my lesson last Saturday and cut the sound and just played music over it you would have no idea that I was struggling. No idea! We did everything like a normal lesson. There was walk, trot and canter, lots of lateral work and plenty of time spent on the evil 10 meter canter circles. So what was the problem? Me!

I love all of your suggestions from my loss of confidence post, but without a horse of my own (I think of Gen as my very expensive pet dog) to ride and with the SchoolMaster being leased out and used for lessons the time set aside for me to ride him is only on Saturday’s during my lesson right now. It will change if I pick up a lease, but to my knowledge he only gets one day a week off at the moment so he has no free days in which I could ride. I also do not have seasonal affective disorder or any of the other signs of depression. In fact, minus my riding I would say that things are going really well for me right now!

So what is up with my riding? I don’t know! I showed up to the barn on Saturday to find a lot of my favorite barn people around. I was excited to be riding with friends! Yet, by the time I got the SchoolMaster out of his field I could start to feel my confidence dropping. I tacked up and walked up to the ring already feeling very mentally defeated. My trainer took one look at me and told me to just relax and have fun with a ring full of wonderful supportive people. I got on and the SchoolMaster was looky, not that I can blame him since it was really windy, but in my head I decided I would not be able to handle it if he spooks. My trainer could clearly see me being TIMID so she gave me a bit of a reality check and reminded me that I used to ride Gennyral and lots of other “bad horses”.

After a slightly excessive walk warm up in which the SchoolMaster was getting bored and thus doing little spooks (can we say self fulfilling prophecy much?) my trainer told me that she had been waiting for me to want to trot and yet that request had never come. I made a face, took a breath and started trotting. Every time the SchoolMaster would get looky I would correct, but in the same breath I still felt like I couldn’t handle anything. Over time the ring started to empty out leaving just the Pinto’s Owner (the one I used In Hand) and the SchoolMaster together in the ring. I love to go fast so I had no qualms about cantering. The game of the game was using 10 meter circles to make good transitions to the canter and in the canter.

We work the harder direction first (right) and then switched over to the left. That was when I lost all steering and the SchoolMaster threw a temper tantrum. He thought it was crap that he has to do this hard work while his friends were gone so he thought he would just bully me in to seeing the black and white pinto. So the whole time up to this point I felt like I could not handle a naughty horse and as he is literally throwing his body around cantering sideways I deal with it. Not in the same way that I used to, the old me would have laughed at him for being stupid, but I still managed. We worked and worked until he knocked it off and yet still I did not feel like I could ride and I had no confidence.

My trainer actually commented that my being pissed at myself actually HELPED my riding by keeping me focused. She is trying to help me get over this, but she does not know why I lost my confidence, and neither do I. A normal person would have left the lesson I had with a smile on their face. I was so upset with myself that I left on the verge of tears. My trainer told me to stop obsessing about it though because that was clearly not helping. I am also supposed to use the techniques from the Daniel Stewart Clinics everyone attended a few years back and come up with a positive mantra (I still say those clinics were a waste!) for my riding.

The good thing is that on Tuesday night as I lay awake obsessing about my loss of confidence (I swear I do listen to my trainer most of the time) I think I may have had a break though. I don’t feel comfortable about posting it here because it is all in my head and yet it could lead to hurt feelings in other people, but I really think I may have figured it out. I guess we will find out on Saturday right?

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6 thoughts on “The Lesson…

  1. I’m glad it’s the BO’s horse is getting all of that crap. She should know better. (I didn’t mean anything by thinking it was you – you just always try to do the best for Gen and I could see it piling up)

    It sounds like you’ve figured out your confidence thing. I wouldn’t discount that it could be SAD or something else physiological vs. mental (hormonal/neurological vs. thinking). Regardless, both can be fixed by you figuring (thinking) things out. All I’m saying is don’t get so down on yourself when you have a bad ride day. It’s not because you did anything wrong. It could have even been from lack of sleep.
    Can’t wait to see you ride the schoolmaster at a show!

  2. I don’t think anyone is going to push you harder than you. You have high expectations and the drive to get there. You will pull yourself out of this slump. Sure, other people will help, but it’s your (awesome) strong personality that is going to do it in the end. I think your trainer’s right. Being pissed at yourself probably IS helping!

  3. Again I agree with “tryingtoride” regarding the depression. Being depressed doesn’t mean you have the “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I’ll go eat worms” or what I call the Black Hole of Depression. The affliction can be nothing more serious than burnout–a realization that your original goals (for whatever “end result” you were seeking, NOT just related to riding) are either not happening as fast as you thought they would OR might not happen at all. I have ideas for several mystery novels with a horse theme, but I have only one with two chapters in draft form. My novel writing career is not “coming together” as quickly as I had originally hoped–when I first GOT the bug 40 years ago ;o).

    I sit down to write and suddenly realize how LONG the road ahead is–and I’m probably going to be wasting my time because the publishing industry sucks. (I am buoyed, however, by the fact that many of the novels I read today are poorly written and perhaps if I get my first one completed, SOMEONE will see it as far superior to what else is out there and voila! ;o)

    Some “self-butt-kicking” is in order when we ride, especially in dressage because attention to detail, inner focus, the “Zen zone,” or OCD or whatever you want to call it is part of the game plan. Don’t beat yourself up over a crappy lesson (or two) or losing the desire to ride. I haven’t really ridden in over a year but I’m comfortable with the notion it will come together soon.

  4. When you wrote about your canter and how you handled the School master, I was amazed. You are good – please don’t doubt it. Your trainer is correct in pointing out your strengths, and you are physically fit to handle the unexpected moves. You’ve had lots of experience with challenging horses and you continued to ride. You trained the Appy. Wow girl! Compared to you I am a whimp. I am not physically fit. I don’t react as quickly as I need to. I actually worked all last summer on getting my confidence back. The book “Don’t Panic” gave me a new perspective on anxiety, and I also spent some time everday visualizing the way I wanted my horse experience to look. I also took lessons on a school master with my old trainer. Eventually I had a mind change (flip switch). If I have a day where I revert back, I walk away and forgive myself. The next day is always better, and the old way of thinking is fading away.

  5. Ever thought about taking a break from horses? I mean if you don’t want to ride… don’t. I don’t want to sound mean but make it black or white for yourself. The same with trotting if you don’t want to trot… don’t! No point half hearted doing it… Sorry if I sound harsh I just don’t think you should do something you don’t love doing

  6. Maybe you are in your head too much. I say that, b/c I deal with that ALL the time. I think, think, think, think and then right before the doing, I can fall apart. It’s a matter of days, or hours or it can happen within seconds.
    It’s when I pull myself out of my head and try to enjoy the moment, is when I do better. Ride better.
    Literally doing stupid things like singing, or thinking of our next step, etc can help me focus and get my confidence back. It’s a constant work but what passion isn’t.
    Could it be that even as amazing as the Schoolmaster is, you dont click with him?

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