So last Friday is was in the upper 60s and beautiful out. As most of you agreed it was plenty warm enough to give Gen a bath. By last Saturday the temperatures has dropped down to the 30s and we had stead winds of 30mph with consistent gusts over 60 mph!!! How crazy is that! When I woke up and looked outside my first thought was “this is a shitty day to ride”. Horses are supposed to be naughty in the wind…they are prey animals and the wind takes away their ability to see and smell predators accurately. Add to this the fact that the SchoolMaster is a total baby when he is scared and I thought about not going to my lesson.
Now the good thing is I really do think I figured out a big part of my problem. Not that it can be fixed, but it makes me feel better at least knowing what is wrong. Armed with that knowledge I adjusted my goals for the ride. Instead of having a perfect lesson to prove to myself that I was okay I needed to focus on the SchoolMaster and make him feel like it was okay. It was good to feel like I had a purpose with my ride so any thoughts of being a no show went away. I could tell as soon as I haltered the SchoolMaster that is was going to be an interesting ride. He would alternatively bury his head under my arm to protect him and then jump sideways spooking. Poor weenie pony! The good news was that he was looking to me for comfort, the bad news was that my comfort was not enough…he was still scared.
I didn’t give myself any chance to think once he was tacked up. The wind had knocked the power out so there was no need hanging around the dark barn. The walk up to the indoor was comical. The SchoolMaster would walk forward five steps and then spook and run back three. Sigh. I went in the indoor and got on before I started to worry too much. My trainers indoor has mirrors all along one side and so in my new effort to be more my like my old self I forced a laugh out when I could see us walking by and the SchoolMaster’s eyes were popping out of his head because he was so scared!
I actually found some of the confidence that I had been missing with that fake laugh. I sat up taller and stretched my legs down. I also felt stronger. Two weeks ago I got sick of being so out of shape so I started the slow process of becoming fit again. On Saturday I could tell that even though I was no where near where I need to be, I was actually feeling much stronger already. I tried hard to let the reins be long, but the SchoolMaster was constantly scooting and going sideways at random points. You would think he would spook near the banging doors that he was right next to, but no, he would be okay with that and then randomly spook on the wall. I swear this horse sees dead people.
My trainer could clearly see how terrified that he was so we worked on getting him to pay attention to me instead of his fear at the walk. It was good to work on having a good walk. It was also hard work. I started to sweat from effort! Trying to control his shoulders and his haunches was such a challenge. Eventually I got him to to straight with squared of turns. Since his spooks had only been jumping sideways I actually was still feeling okay. We picked up the trot and the SchoolMaster got strong and inattentive again. So we worked on getting him to remember that he still had a rider.
After working at the trot I could start to feel myself getting tired. I had been working really hard to be an accurate and correct rider. My trainer had started to tell me a story that normally would grab my attention, but my brain which had been mercifully quiet thus far had turned on and was starting to race. I know that if I started to worry the SchoolMaster would fall apart. I told my trainer what was going on and asked for permission to get off. I could tell she was disappointed since I had been riding so confidently, but I knew that I was starting to fell apart and I wanted to end on a good note. As soon as I got off he started freaking out again. Poor pony.
So all and all I was really proud of myself. I pushed past my comfort zone (which would have been to not get on) and actually had a productive lesson. I figured that if I can ride and be okay with 60 mph wind gusts and a 30 degree temperature drop that I am really working through this. I don’t know what snapped in my this winter to make me loose my confidence, but I do think that I am on my way to understanding myself and my riding better. I have also decided that if I don’t have fun leasing him again in March it is time to reevaluate my riding situation. I have a long time to go before that though. I am going to stop being all about big pictures and just focus on what I consider to be a win this weekend. Go me. 🙂