Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Feelings vs. Reality

What to cover first?  The thought of showing with my daughter was not the best one I have ever had.  I do not recommend it at all.  Then two more kids and a dog?!  You are just asking for trouble.  The day was completely insane.  From running through isle ways like a crazy person, "shouting, get on your pony your supposed to be in your test!"  To tacking up on the way to the class to arrive just in time to hear the bell ding.  It is not my definition of fun.  The over all frazzled feeling of the day was not a good thing.  It is hard to feel happy and satisfied with anything when you are stressed and rushing.  I am a low stress person and do not enjoy high stress situations so it made an atmosphere that did not set a good tone.


I have to be honest when I say that at the end of the day I felt crummy.  I did not feel good about how the day went.  I felt I rode poorly.  I made poor decisions.  I short changed my daughter.  I am a, give a 110% kind of person and when I was torn in that many directions I felt like I only gave any one thing 50% at best.

I was mentally drained and physically exhausted.  Everything hurt from my head to my feet.

I do understand that feelings are not something to base lasting decisions off of so don't get too worried when I share my true feelings with you.  I won't be jumping off any bridges or anything.

By the end of the day I felt as if I just am not cut out to do this.  I don't have enough time to dedicate to it.  I don't have enough money to pour into getting to a million competitions that would surely help me and my horse.  I just don't belong doing anything I can't give my 100%.  My horse would be far better off with a much better rider.

I made a decision that I feel was pretty much the undoing of the day.  I made SO many mistakes that contributed to not just poor riding on my part but an unfair environment for my daughter.

Mistake #1  I choose to braid my horse.  I don't know why I feel so compelled to do it all.   99% of the people at the show were not braided and I should have, especially on this day, just left his mane alone.  At the time I knew that I was choosing braiding over lunging.  There was only enough time for one.  Epic mistake!  I foolishly kept telling myself, "oh he is comfortable at CAF he will be fine".  Even if he is comfortable with Lee Ann's he is not so much used to it being wildly windy with 75 other horses and a ton of people buzzing around.  I found the system for him that worked like magic when we were down in Kenttucky.  Why I messed with that I have no idea.  The braids were not worth it.            
Scored a 40.0% so not terrible but he is capable of so much better.

Mistake #2 letting the excitement of the environment and my horse negatively affect the way I rode.  Warm up was actually quite nice.  Not because my horse was relaxed because he was not.  He was far better than some of the horrific warm ups we have had in the past.  But he was still being more reactive and sensitive than normal.  I would put on my leg and instead of lifting his back and coming round he would scoot forward.  Which is fine it just meant I had to put more effort into my ride than normal.  I was still getting some nice work out of him.  But then I enter at and all I have learned over the last year for whatever reason flies out the window and I HOOOOOLD onto my horses face and won't let go.  I felt myself doing it.  I saw what it was making my horse do but I JUST COULD. NOT. STOP.  My head was saying "that's not right".  But my body was all like, "hold mooooore!!"  Sigh...

After that was over with I made Mistake #3 completely forget I had a daughter that needed to be in her dressage test!  So I rushed to untack, rushed to tack her pony up.  Rushed to the arena and she had to go in about 2 minutes after getting on.  Not a good plan and not what I wanted to do to her.  She went in rode her test and they did a lovely job.  Was it her best riding?  No.  But who am I to talk.  She was at least relaxed and not holding her pony's face off.

Then it was off to tack up Steady again.  I go out to jump warm up and he is high.  Not at his worst but still just wanting to GOOOOOO.  I am realizing that I have a serious hang up with letting him go which just adds to his insistence that we must go.  I actually feel I made a few good decisions in warm up.  But I could have done better.  Since we haven't jumped 3 ft in I can't remember when and the last time we jumped at all was at KHP I did at least want to get him over some jumps before we went in so he would realize that he needed to pick up his feets a little more this time around.  He wanted to rush at the jump and rush off after.  I am sure there were some watching on say, "OMG they are crazy" but hey poop on them if they only knew what Steady's real crazy looked like.  It was not his worst but it was not the relaxed rhythmic jumping I wanted. 

We entered and off in a canter.  He locked on to the first jump and starts to take off running at it.  I did not want the round to start off on bad foot.  I was always taught in the hunter world "if you make the first and last jumps nice the rest in between almost always go well" and I believe that to be true.  So I start trying to pull him back to a trot and he opens his mouth, throws his head in the air and starts to fling his head and neck around like a dying fish.  Low and behold the jump shows up in the middle of this argument and he doesn't even see it with his head going every direction and we kind of just fall out to the right.  Dammit refusal on our first jump.  I was not happy and it definitely threw me off my mental game.  We came back around to it and jumped it.  Jump two I was so distracted in my head that I spaced it and realized that I needed to get my head out of my ass and finish what I started.  I pulled my head out late for the hard turn back to 2, a max plank oxer, and made an ugly turn but but the jump was ok.  That, unlike jump #1, was not Steady's fault.  Jump 3,(max airy vertical) was a on a 3 stride bending again he jumped it ok, then it was off to the XC field.  We fought on the way to jump 4.  He just wanted to go so fast.  The course was clean minus the refusal on jump #1.  We jumped true Novice fences both stadium and XC and damn the horse loves to go very very fast and jump.  When I got off course I was nothing but disappointed.  I don't think I have ever come off a XC course with that feeling before.  Especially one that besided the one silly refusal was clear.  I felt like I fought with Steady the entire way about how fast we should be going.  Then I felt crappy because I really think that it is more my fear of going too fast is why I am trying to hold him back not because he couldn't do just fine if I let him go faster.  I was disappointed and the fact that I didn't know if I should be disappointed in myself, my horse, my inability to properly train him, or my inability to correctly ride him.  Even now I still have not figured this answer out.

Then it hit me that "SHIT, Elaina needs to be in her second test in 2 minutes!!"  Thankfully a friend was willing to hold Steady still fully tacked up, while I ran to the barn and threw together my daughter and her pony and ran out to her test.  Pretty much as soon as we walked up she had to go in.  No warm up no prep and oh yeah she hadn't looked over her test to get it right.  I begged to borrow the previous readers test to read to her so that she wouldn't forget and she went in and did it.  I was proud of her and the way she handled it all.  The judge is always so great and gives immediate feed back and explained to her that if she just was more accurate in her figures that she would have gotten several more points.  It is a bummer to loose points for that but for what her and her pony have been through I think its easy homework in comparison.  This is also her second dressage show, she is 10 years old she never gets to ride in an actual arena let alone a dressage arena and has worked hard to get her pony to where she is.  There was a split second where Lily contemplated stepping out of the arena and I saw Elaina feel it and stop it from happening.  That right there was progress.

  • Eventers are, once again the most awesome people.  Letting me borrow the test to read.  Holding my horse so I could help my daughter.
  • The jumps in stadium or XC didn't look big at all and they were serious max Novice fences!
  • It was a successful move up a level.
  • Our dressage score was higher than it should have been but there are two big contributing factors one never neglect lunging, which is easy enough, and 2 I need more dressage arena time to not freeze up in a test.
  • Our higher dressage score could not be blamed on my horse at all. 
  • If I would have been able to stop holding his face he would have done exactly what I have been working so hard to train him to do which means we have made incredible progress in the dressage department
  • Our bad day dressage scores are FAR better than our bad day dressage score of just a year ago!
  • We ended with a ribbon and we weren't even last!
  • I feel validated that we were 100% ready and prepared to move to Novice.
  • Though it may have taken longer then planned to get to this point but to do it with just one minor error shows me that I have done the right thing by taking it slow.
  • Though yes my horse locks onto jumps and gets excited and wants to go fast which can be seen as a negative but on the other side of that he is SO incredibly bold and brave and LOVES his job so much that he just wants to do it!
  • After I had some time to think about all of it and begin to separate my feelings from the facts I was able to better put into perspective the event. 
  • And I am quite pleased with my horse. 
  • I need a lot of work!
  • I again completely failed at taking pictures and I am very sorry.  There was a photographer on the grounds and I have been waiting to post this in hopes that I could find some pictures of us on her site but she still has not posted the pictures online.  If I find some I will be sure to share!


  1. Yay for successfully moving up to Novice! Too bad it was so hectic though, but I'm sure it will get better with practice. I have a hard enough time just managing myself at shows, so even though it was crazy, at least you survived the process of getting you and your daughter through your tests! Hope you can find some pictures to share :)

  2. Wow, I seriously can't even imagine how frantic that mus have felt. I still remember my very first schooling event which was a one day and how frantic I felt just trying to get me and my horse where we needed to go at the right time. Adding the responsibility of my daughter is very hard to contemplate.

    It sounds like you got some good takeaways, though, which is great. You evaluated the good, the bad and the ugly and know what you need to work on but also see how far you have come. That is a huge thing!

    Congrats on the move up to Novice!

  3. Girl...I think you might need a glass of wine LOL. Don't be so hard on yourself and Steady. We all have bad show days even if things don't really go wrong. You are trying and learning and that's what it's all about.

  4. Sounds like you had a lot going on but your daughter sounds like a strong little thing and like you did a great job with what you had. I am glad that you had a mostly positive move up! I can barely manage myself at a horse show let alone a tiny person too! Would love to see pictures :)

  5. That's a lot of stress for one day, I know my head would have exploded!

  6. Wow! What a crazy day. Don't beat yourself up for your mistakes or for your feelings. We all make mistakes and we all feel that way at times. I think you made the best of a very difficult situation and you learned a few things that will make it a lot easier the next time around. :)

    Would it be possible to have someone help you out next time? A friend that rides that could help untack the horses or help get things ready before a test? Those ride times were insanely close to be trying to get your horse and your daughter's horse ready. I don't know how you did it. I'm impressed. I'm glad you're looking at the positives from the day and not giving up. I don't deal with stress well either, but at least you did it! I wouldn't have had the guts to even try.

  7. So many times feelings are a lot worse than reality... especially when it comes to horses. Even though you might have things to work on, it really does sound like the show was a huge success for both you and your daughter!

    Now go grab a beer and eat some nachos to nurse your horse show hangover, haha

  8. I agree that a rushed experience is not much fun. I am impressed that you pulled it all together without missing a test or round.

  9. Next time feel free to ask some of your friendly neighbor eventers for help warming up you or your daughter! Annie was very un Annie in stadium so don't worry too much about it. The weather was bordering on awful anyway. You had a combination of a busy day, weather, and a move up. You should be happy you kept it mostly together!

  10. Congrats on making it through the chaos and still making it through Novice! I feel like I would never had made it anywhere in dressage if I just competed at events and CTs. I have to go to dressage only shows and do two tests. That way if I freeze up and "hold face" or sit there like a lead-line rider I can kick myself right back out there and make a change THAT day!

  11. Go easy on yourself Amy! You and Steady make an amazing team. Your daughter is fortunate to have a great horse mom that is right out there with her sharing her passion.


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