Saturday, September 17, 2011

Burn Out

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I've been holding out fairly desperately for the day I moved into my dorm and got internet again, but of course here I am now sitting in my new dorm with a computer that I still can't get online and no hope of getting the problem resolved over the next few days. Boo. I've been in desperate need of an update, though, as quite a bit has happened since I last posted, so here is the crappier iPhone-produced and pictureless version of what I was hoping originally to write.

I've been feeling really burnt out lately. The anxiety of the move, plus being a little homesick, plus the always brewing drama of the Red Barn, plus all the stupid worries I have for the coming school year and coming back after having been away from Stanford for so long, have all left me completely exhausted both physically and emotionally. So, take any of the following histrionics with a grain of salt, as I most certainly have not been in the most resilient mood over the past ten days.

I took Kiki to the Woodside dressage show yesterday to do some first level tests in preparation for Twin next week. I have to say, I've been really pleased with how she's been feeling lately. I've been able to do more sitting work with her, and get her into a rideable place. The sitting, especially, has helped overcome the snag I'd hit where every time I would come back to trot after cantering she would literally grab the bit and by across the arena, because I could control her with my seat and not have to pull as much with my hands. Her canter was miles better than the throwing herself against the walls that she'd done I our first lessons with Kim, and there are brief moments where I can actually get her to unlock more through her back than she ever has before in the dressage ring.

So when I brought her to the show and she actually kept her head on straight during the warmup and as we entered the ring, I was pretty hopeful. We made some mistakes and she got tense a few times, but it felt miles ahead of where we'd been at GMHA in July. During the second test, especially, I really felt like we might actually start being competitive.

Well, we weren't. Our first test scored the lowest we've ever gotten on wny dressage test ever (except for that memorable 51% I got at Stuart last year... But I try not to think about that, haha). When I got the tests back the comments were so mean on both, even the second one where I had scored better, that I burst into tears and couldn't stop crying. Both tests slammed me for my riding and said that I was holding Kiki back and limiting her potential with my restricting aids. I got my first '5' on rider in as long as I can remember. Rachel tried really hard to cheer me up but I was already in full on melt down mode so there wasn't much to be done.

I just feel like I can't do right with this horse. When I ride her forward, she races on the forehand and is completely unbalanced and out of control. When I ride her more conservatively, I'm restricting her potential and she gets tight in the back. I make her fussy. I make her tense. I can't sit her trot. I can't control her trot from the post. I can't get her unstuck in the canter. The list feels like it goes on and on and on. It makes me incredibly frustrated. I feel like I have the same horse I did when I started riding her as a five year old. All the work and training I've put into her has come to nothing.

So, it's back to the drawing board again, for what feels like the thousandth time. Maybe someday I will stop sucking enough to actually ride this horse properly and get rewarded for it. Maybe.


TBA said...

Wow, that sucks. I'm sorry! I think stuff like that happens when working with young horses and everyone has their own ideas of how to ride a young horse. I've noticed the same things when working with Jetta and I have to say, I feel Kiki is miles ahead of Jetta! Just keep plugging along and I bet someday the two of you will figure it out together :)

Beckz said...

The same little grey horse that canter/raced around with her nose stuck out?? No way man at least now she is getting soft in the neck/ relaxed/ coping with different atmospheres yada yada. Some young horses aren't naturally balanced and relaxed and take a long time to put all the pieces together. Often it feels like you are making no progress and then all of a sudden it falls into place.

It really isn't anything you are doing wrong it's just a case of time and age really. She has come on leaps and bounds, it can just be hard to see it when you are the one training them. Chin up bud

SprinklerBandit said...

The first time I took Izzy to a dressage show (and last, lol) she was totally green and barely broke and one the verge of a massive explosion. I rode quietly and conservatively to keep from dying and got a 5 for rider score.

Makes me wonder if I would have scored better if I had died, lol.

Hang in there. The judge can't see how far you've come, just what's in front of them.

Plus, some of them just suck.

Amanda said...

Oh, Kate! I know how you are feeling (burn out sucks, and I'm feeling it in a big way of late). I also know what it feels like to think you do a good test then get scores and comments back that do not match how you feel about the ride you put in! It is SO hard to not let them get you down, BUT you have to remember that that snotty dressage judge only sees you for a moment! DO NOT let those comments get you down or change the way you are working Kiki if you feel like you are on the right path!

I blame a lot of Vernon's tension in the dressage ring on letting dressage judges' comments change the way I rode him. At the time, he really needed, mentally and physically, to be allowed to go longer and lower than what the judges wanted to see, but I bowed to the pressure, and brought him up sooner than he was ready and "taught" him how to be tense. Hind sight's 20/20...I wish I had a do over and I had stuck to my guns with him.

Moral of the story? STICK TO YOUR GUNS WITH HER! If she feels better and is more rideable, softer and relaxed then keep on keeping on! Ride for what you want out of her, no matter what the last dressage judge told you. At some point, what you are doing will mesh with the judges. In the mean time, have a margarita for every score you don't think is right. Hugs to you! Don't worry! You ARE doing it right!

Katherine Erickson said...

thanks so much for your kind words guys. I'm feeling better about it and, as I'll write about more fully in a minute, I had a big lightbulb moment this evening which I'm hoping will help as we go forward =)

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