Friday, April 22, 2016

Position Is Key

I would have loved to respond to everyone’s comments on the last post, as I truly enjoyed reading them! Know that I appreciate feedback, and solidifying the fact I am not the only-non fearless rider out there! Fear is so difficult to conquer, and as we know, can sometimes be irrational. As an equestrian blogging community, together, we got this!

Bacardi recovered well this week and we had two rides before my trainer took over (thank the lord!) for the next 3 weeks. I recently changed jobs (instead of going part time AND full time) and dealing with the mess of insurance, 401k, two-weeks notice, new paper work…its been a stressful mess. 

Along with Yankee, gym, sleeping and school, I knew I wouldn’t get to ride my healthy horse much, so this actually worked out wonderfully. Despite the $, its money well spent in my brain. Pro training, pro show ride, less stress on my end. Winning.

I digress.

Our ‘last’ ride together was a flat session in 82* weather on Monday. I was NOT feelin it, since I was sporting a wonderful sunburn from Saturday, and I am one of the select few that loathes summer. I hate sweating, I hate being sticky, I hate bugs, I hate the blaring sun, I hate crispy lawns, crispy horses, crispy shoulders, fried hair, thunderstorms, not sleeping well, sweating and almost everything else the accompanies summer. HATE. And its only SPRING.

So putting breeches on in 80 * in APRIL had me bewildered and jaded and I was already like UGH for our ride.

Surprisingly, he was brilliant. Much more so than he should have been; I was truly riding horrendously. Like so bad. I could feel it before I even looked at the video I took of myself. I cringed when I actually watched.

Lately, I’ve taken to crouching, curling, pointing my toes down and riding with my hands in my lap.
Literally all the bad things you could do, I do it at once.

I do not understand how my horse stands it, and honestly, based off his initial behavior with me (when first purchased) I almost didn’t believe I was riding the same horse. Like, did I grab the right one out of the pasture?

what is this creature? 

Perhaps he was zonked by the heat too, but he really was lovely for me despite the potato sack on his back.

Because of the heat and my lack of self-confidence, I really was riding without purpose and we most toodled with 20m circles and practicing down centerline to halts.

He could’ve been a wee more engaged and forward, but most of that was due to my shit riding, and nothing of his own. He was still relaxed (minus one random spook in the corner) and actually swung his ribs in the corners and strutted straight on the long sides. Transitions were beautiful and I wanted to cry I was so proud.

so relaxed

I’ve been thinking over the last few days though, on my position, and what exactly happened. I’ve never been a “flawless” rider by any means, but my jump position has been solid and dressage was correct, mostly. Now, both seats have gone to shit and I’m like, no, why, come back. I miss you.

Come back to me

textbook, also no fear
Part of the problem is my actual body type. I have insanely long femurs (like ridiculously), a squat booty and a short torso coupled with non-existent boobs. Not only is it incredibly unmatched and not streamlined at all, but finding the right stirrup length, or even a saddle that fits me is impossible. I essentially gave up years ago looking “correct” on any horse, but still took pride in my equitation.
Minus conformation issues on my end, battling the urge to return to hunter land has always been a nagging problem as well. Re-training my body from the hunter crouch to dressage seat took years and I sometimes still struggle.

just look at B
Case and point.

Then I got to thinking. What has REALLY changed in the last few months though?

My job description.

I spend HOURS a day curled over a keyboard now, looking down with hunched shoulders.
No matter how conscious I try to be about it, I still do it. Muscle memory. That’s hours and hours a day for months at a time.

Wow, that explains it.

Just call me Ms Dame


Hopefully the job switch will decrease that time spent hunched over on a computer, because not only is my riding suffering, but so is my Crossfit!

Time to retrain my body!

Tomorrow, we head out to KY for some cross country schooling. I love being less than 2 hours from KY XC grounds, and I can’t wait to see how Bacardi does with Supertrainer! I will take so many videos, don’t worry.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What Do Wednesday: FEAR

I have been trying to write a recap post for days now, but my video editor froze on me and I gave up, so this is not only a video-less post, but also a recap and what-do all wrapped into one!

For the first time together, and his second time ever, we hauled out to the park for some XC schooling this past weekend. It was a blast and I have so many things to discuss I don't even know where to begin.

For one, it made me realize how lucky I am to have such a wonderful group of riding friends, and Supertrainer to lead us in our eventing journey.

Horse friendz, I needz dem

For two, I realized I am in worse shape than I thought, and breeches are flattering on no one. Additionally my position has gone to crap and I really need to hike a hole or two up and work on releasing again. Jesus.

like, what is this. GM would scoff
Third, I am absolutely, 100% scared shitless of cross country.

One hundred percent certifiably terrified.

I didn't really realize it until we had finished our canter sets to warm up and we all began on a very simple log exercise to warm-up over fences. The third fence was a roll back turn to the tiniest triple bar on earth and my heart absolutely dropped when Supertrainer was explaining the exercise. You want me to to jump WHAT? Are you fucking insane, I'll die!

You'll notice he's mostly naked now
So I sat there watching everyone else do the warm-up, literally shaking in my boots, dreading my turn. When it came, we cantered over the baby logs, turned for the triple bar and promptly came to an easy halt before the fence.

I about burst into tears. ALL of my insecurities, worries, doubts, fears bubbled to the surface with this one refusal and I cried/yelled "HE JUST DOESNT DO.... THIS... I CANT DO THIS" and Supertrainer calmly asked me to come at it again and my barn mates cheered me on and he sailed over it, rather awkwardly because I can't ride for shit apparently, but no questions asked, went right over like okay mom

sheer terror. I mean seriously look how massive that fence is

OH OKAY so when riders actually ride, horses actually jump. Noted.

Thats the hard part though.

So then we added in trickier things, like a log pile on a bank/hill and even bigger logs after that.

Barn mate jumping the even bigger logs
I instantly was like UH shit no, I am NOT jumping that, I will die. And Supertrainer sternly said, "Monica, Bacardi can do this, easily, you're going to do this" And I was like nope, not gonna. So she gave up, like a good trainer should because I was obviously terrified.

Then one of the girls spoke up and asked me why I was afraid and what happened to make me so afraid. And I sat there like...uhhhhh, I really don't know. I really don't know.

We moved on to other fences, and he refused a few at first. But it got easier, and I was realizing it was mostly my riding affecting my horse. He was having an absolute BLAST and once I got my shit together and realized the baby fences weren't my impending doom and my horse could literally jump over any of them from a standstill (which he did at each stop), I started RIDING.

The exuberance
In-between fences I kept thinking to myself, WHAT am I so afraid of and WHY? Death? I used to jump four feet with no question, no doubts and no fears. I have done this a million times, over much bigger things. I loved it and it was fun. Bacardi jumped without question when I actually rode well, so why was I like this?

more baby log piles

super unimpressive log
I think the root of my fear is failure. So many people have had doubts about this horse, myself included, and I can't stand the thought of proving them right. I have risked a lot with this horse, and I just want to succeed with him. Its a natural human thought process; we don't want to fail. But if I think about it, I have already come so far with him, I feel as if I have a already won.

Then there's the nagging self doubt. Oh that self doubt, you won't leave me. Typical female self doubt that just exists to torment me. "Oh you're too fat for those breeches. Ohmygod you're position is terrible I bet everyone is thinking about how terrible your position is and laughing to  themselves. Oh wow your horse will never amount to nothing and you were stupid to buy him. You'll never be successful, so  you might as well quit now"

Like a crazy person.

Then theres the immense pressure to compete and prove that worth, and having tons of successful friends who show doesn't help. I used to love showing, but right now, I can't really decide if thats my end all be all with riding. Like what is the actual point? To win a $2 ribbon and be $800 poorer? Okay....

Then I think about actually competing though, and my heart actually starts to race, not in a good way. I watched a friend post a video of  her start box departure on Facebook and I felt my heart contract with fear. Hearing that countdown, I was terrified and had flashbacks from my XC days with Yankee. Which were never bad, to be honest, so I have zero clue about what is happening in my brain.

When I see people posting pics of them from shows over Novice fences I am like holy mutherfucking shit no way that is Novice. I literally never want to jump that, ever. What really freaks me out is Training level, like WHEN did those fences get so massive? I did training for 5 years and not once did I think "oh I might die today on XC". But now, beginner novice fences have me like, NOPE.

So what is wrong with me? Did I grow up and realize life is fleeting and riding is terribly dangerous? Am I scared of failure? Do I just not like riding anymore?

So after all that thinking and pondering while riding, we came up to this incredibly simple log (whoa a log again, its getting wild) in which Bacardi over jumped by a mile and then blasted off on landing. He was so totally and 100% overjoyed that he let out some squeals and some hops and was so proud of himself I couldn't help but smile!


such majesty

such impulsion

many leaps

It was then I realized that my horse was not afraid at all, in fact he loved it. After that, I relaxed a little and found that I took was having fun again. Then, he surprised me with no reaction to the ditch at all. None. He just glided over it like he had been doing it forever. That was cool. I can dig it.


I still have a lot to work on, and being more positive with my inner self, pushing away the "demons", but I think I might be getting there again. I don't know how I feel about competing anytime in the near future, but I will admit the XC was pretty fun. I am sure some of you know how damned hard it can be to believe in yourself and that you're not a totally horrendous rider, but thats how I am trying to conquer this fear of XC head on.

So dear readers, what do you do with your fears? Do you face them head on? Do you shrink away from them? Do you find something else that works? Tell me, what do??

That all being said, we are going to KY this weekend to have Supertrainer ride this time (Event only 3 weeks away!!) and get some water schooling under his belt. I can't wait to see her ride him over fences!