Sunday, January 13, 2013

Remember, It's OK to Make Mistakes

First of all, if you hadn't noticed, I recently added a new page to the top of my blog called 'Nostalgia' with lots of old pictures of my bigger, more badass competition days. Check it out if you haven't gotten a chance to!

Yesterday Robin and I went on a little adventure up to beautiful north shore horse country for a jumping lesson with Jane Hamlin. I hadn't had a jumping lesson since the last time Jane came down to Massachusetts back in November, so I was definitely very eager to see her again, especially since the start of the season seems to be getting closer and closer! 

(This was the indoor - I almost died when we walked inside. So gorgeous! Seriously, as much as everyone touts Middleburg as horsey mecca, I don't think it holds a candle to the north shore... though I may be a *bit* biased)

After warming up, Jane had us work on getting different striding between two angled fences, first by riding the angle straight through them, then by riding the bending track. Ky felt AMAZING and we did the first couple of circuits with no problem at all, though Jane did have to remind me to keep riding forward out of the corners of the (somewhat small) arena. 

We then moved on to a short two stride, and after popping through that a few times, Jane set us a little course. By this point in the lesson, I was somewhat surprised by how tired Ky felt: he was blowing pretty hard after each exercise, and sweating much more than usual (it was much warmer than it has been recently and the arena footing, while quite nice, was significantly deeper than the stuff at our indoor, which I think made a big difference). But I set off and at first everything went quite well. We jumped the first part of the course (a bending five stride line) the smoothest we done so far, and came around to the two stride, which Jane had put up to around 3'-3'3"ish. Coming out of the corner, we didn't feel very balanced, and Ky's canter felt flat and a little rushed. I couldn't see a distance, couldn't see a distance, locked up...

And we crashed. Well, not totally, since I didn't fall off, but we did reduce the oxer completely to kindling. D'oh! Sorry Ky! :( I was really disappointed with myself. I feel like I've gotten to the point in my jump riding again where I can ride positively and do everything right when things are going well, but freeze up hardcore whenever I get in a jam... and that's precisely the time when I need to be not freezing up!! 

Jane did a great job, though, getting the lesson back on track, and I was really pleased to find that we ended on a quite positive note. We put the combination down a little and never put it back up the original crash height, but did put together a couple very positive courses before we called it for the day. Jane reminded me throughout to keep trying to give up a little control, sit up, and let my awesome pony just go. 

This is definitely tough for me: I'm a nervous rider and I show my nerves by trying to micromanage every step of my ride. In dressage I can get away with that behavior, since it's actually encouraged! But in jumping, not so much. I have to be able to just sit back and trust my horse a little bit. I also find making mistakes to be more difficult to handle in jumping than I do in dressage. Because let's face it: I mess up a lot, regardless of the discipline I'm riding. But in dressage I'm rarely ever even remotely nervous, so it's easier for me to brush off mistakes and keep learning. In jumping, when I make a mistake like I did yesterday that results in a big miss, it's really hard for me to keep progressing because my nerves take over. When my nerves take over, I want to try to micromanage things more, and when I do that, I end up making more mistakes, and then... well, you can see where things go from there!

So I ended the lesson really pleased that I'd managed to break that negative cycle for the day (thanks to Jane's excellent coaching!), but definitely a little more realistic in what my goals should be with the Little Dude in the coming year than I had been going in. Ky is so fantastic and it's easy to dream BIG BIG BIG with him, but I have to remind myself that at this point in my life it's much more worthwhile to compete at a level where I'm feeling comfortable and having fun, instead of always pushing myself to the very limits of my nerves and sanity (which is my usual approach). I'm so happy to have this horse in my life and want to have as much fun with him as possible!!

Meanwhile, you may have noticed a conspicuous absence of Ringo from the blog recently. Never fear! Prowler is fine and well. He slipped on the snow while I was out hacking him two weeks or so ago and wrenched his back slightly (I know the feeling well and could definitely empathize), so he's had a pretty light schedule while I've been waiting for him to feel tip top again. He's finally feeling his old self again, and so I've signed him up for a Kim lesson this coming week. I took him to the indoor last night to tune up a bit and decided to wear my still-stiff new dress boots - mistake!!! The sores on the back of my knees, which had scabbed over, opened up again and were unbearably painful. In a moment of desperation, I kicked both boots off and rode barefoot (and without stirrups, in an attempt to at least gesture towards safe riding habits!). 

(Also, I promise I'm not actually that chubby - silly 4 winter coats!)

It was surprisingly fun! I got a giggle out of every time I went to kick him and could feel my heel digging into his soft fatty belly. On the actual riding side I think we've had a small breakthrough in our trotwork, so I'm very excited to see if Kim agrees. We'll see!

(Also, I've recently acquired a new stall mucking buddy - usually Krazy Kat circulates the barn while I do chores (often yowling for no apparent reason, which appears to be one of his favorite activities), but recently he has taken to sitting in every stall with me while I muck out. Good kitteh.)


Tori said...

I am the same way jumping, total micro manager. Are you a control freak outside of riding? Seems to be the theme for riders who micro manage lol...glad you guys ended on a good note. Sometimes it takes a few bad jumps to get things sorted.

Hope Ringo feels better!

Katherine Erickson said...

It's funny actually because I think I secretly AM a control freak in all aspects of my life, but I've managed to cultivate myself into a fairly laid back person most of the time. But I think that means that I'm even more of a control freak in my riding even than I would be normally!

And thanks! Ringo felt great today, so I'm hoping that he's totally back to normal :)

Me said...

While I don't *think* I'm a micromanager over fences, I definitely assume the fetal position when I can't see a distance. Good for you for not letting it get the better of you. It's all about using the Jedi mind tricks to keep your brain in the game. ;)

Mikaela Coston said...

You and I are two of the same Kate...I rarely feel nervous dressage, but show jumping I panic and a sweat induced nervous spell complete with plenty of butterflies in my stomach take over. However this line that you wrote "but I have to remind myself that at this point in my life it's much more worthwhile to compete at a level where I'm feeling comfortable and having fun, instead of always pushing myself to the very limits of my nerves and sanity (which is my usual approach)." is the exact same thing I have been wrestling with these past years, esp. with limited funds and limited coaching. Its so easy to get stuck in the biggest, faster, more, more stage that I need to relax take a step back and smile every once in a while and remember this is fun! How is Dually? :)

Katherine Erickson said...

Dually is great! His first rehab was a little less successful than we'd hoped (he got up to cantering and then reinjured himself ) so we decided to turn him out for the rest of the year and just let him be a horse for a while. He's super happy and sound, and my dad is hoping to take him hacking this spring :)

jenj said...

It's SO hard not to micromanage! I'm getting better, but it's so hard to just sit there and... sit. Think forward and let the horse do its job. Who knew how hard it is to do less instead of more!

PS. LOVE Ky's fuzzy little pony ears!

Kate said...

First off, Ky has the most adorable ears ever & I love seeing ears pictures at the start of your posts ;)
Also, everyone seems to have commented with their own micromanagement anecdote, so who am I to break the trend?
As a inner (and sometimes outer) control freak, ne of the most important lessons I learned this year came from an XC school, when my coach reminded me is that XC isn't about being pretty. You get some iffy distances, have some awkward moments, and display some attrocious equitation. But the point of cross country is to get 'er done. If you can look good doing it, all the better, but if your canter isn't perfect in the middle of a coffin, make the best of it and ride on. Ride safe, ride effectively, but don't sweat the small stuff. For someone who came from the h/j world, this was a hard lesson to learn, but ultimately served me well.

Glad to hear Ringo's on the mend!

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