Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Lesson Fun Times

Yesterday afternoon I booked in a lesson with Trainer, who is back from Spruce Meadows.

It was also the day New Assistant started, and I was nervous and curious about meeting her.  I was also nervous about riding in front of Trainer, which is not terribly abnormal but this was a different level of nervous than normal. I have a pathological need to be "good enough" which does me some favors sometimes (it's definitely helped build a good work ethic and pay attention to detail) but also can cause crippling nerves and anxiety at other times. 

I met New Assistant, which was as anticlimactic as it gets, something like "Hi, you must be New Assistant? I'm Irene, welcome to the farm!" received a "yup, hi!" and that was that.  I went on to my warmup, of which I got about halfway done when Trainer was all, "OK let's get going!" and ugh.

We warmed up over a small vertical, like usual.  I hit it beautifully - my best jump of the night, probably - the first time and almost as nicely the second. Then reversed direction and started to miss, seeing the half stride every time and usually taking back and waiting and eventually just pulling up because all I could see was that jump and I knew exactly what I was doing to fuck it up.  Trainer made me repeat this several times and be more patient through the corner (which Old Assistant has been instructing me to come forward through the corner... sigh) and this helped.

From there we jumped an oxer a few times, which was decent enough, if a little slow, I guess?.. and Trainer put together a course.  

First up was a five stride oxer-vertical line that rode kind of long.  I jumped through this okay, had to leg to get the vertical, and we were slightly long.  Then we rolled back right to a vertical, which I rode fine, and then rolled back left to an oxer set on an angle, followed immediately by a bending (LONG) seven strides to a vertical-vertical in and out.  I jumped the oxer a little short, then legged Riley a little bit and he just never even saw the verticals and kind of drifted left. Totally my fault but it happened.  So we circled around and jumped back through it.  From there it was another turn left and up the other side of the ring, oxer-vertical in a shortish four, this was a disaster since I had a long stride coming in and then had to choke him to get him back, then a bending six to another oxer, which we met in about five and a half.  Then a very tidy rollback left to a liverpool which I hit on a shitty stride and Riley made a frog jump over.

Trainer was like, "so, we just need to make eet more fluid, non? Go again."

I started up again, and well, to make a long story short it did not go well.  At all.  Riley was getting away from me, we were taking out strides, I was pulling or kicking at the last minute, we nearly made the in and out into a bounce, and then forgot the bending six entirely.  When I pulled up at the end Trainer just stayed silent for a bit and then went, "so, what did you think?"

Me: It sucked. It just sucked. I don't know what else to say. It was terrible.
Trainer: Well what happen?
Me: I... guess I'm just... not riding very well. I can't find the right rhythm, I'm pushing him too much and pulling him too much, and he's getting annoyed. I'm also just kind of sitting here when I don't really know what to do.
Trainer: Ya zat is about right.  Leesten, so you do ze first part, I am fine wiz it, zen you get to ze seven stride and you just sit and let him run.  Zen everyting else a disaster because now you have horse running away and zen you want to pull because you know is not right.

At this point Trainer removed my spurs (YES ONE OF THOSE LESSONS GRRRR FML) and sent me back out to do it again.

I headed back to the first oxer trying to quell the involuntary tears pooling up (yes, this happens when I have horrible, horrible rides) and breathe and tell myself I am a Majickal Rider who is Fantastique, then saw what I thought was the short one and definitely wasn't and had a terrible chip and pulled up and basically wanted to die from frustration.  Trainer is all "Eet ees fine, no need to make a beeg drama of it <grin>" and sent us out again.  And then it wasn't too bad.  It was more gallopy than I wanted and such but we nailed the seven stride and got the six stride bending a lot better so, that's something.

After this, I was breathing like I'd just run a marathon, and Trainer had us take a break for a few minutes.  Then he had us go back to our warm-up vertical, set around 1m at that point.

"OK, so when you are jomping you are staring at your jomp, zis is good until you make a commeetment to ze jomp, but you keep staring at eet even when you over ze jomp, when zere nothing else you can do, I tink this making you make last meenute deceesion zat you should not be making. So here what we gonna do, you gonna jump zis and last stride you gonna look up at ze sky. OK?"

I'm all, ummmm sure? and we start jumping.  Trainer shouts "up!!!!" at the opportune moment, I look up, and suddenly I know how to jump again.  The jump goes up and up and ends around 1.25m and it is suddenly again just no problem.  I was feeling much better after this and thought I might have gotten away with being done, but Trainer had me jump through the first half of the course again.  The course included the now-1.25m vertical (bearing in mind the rest of it was set around 3ft, maybe some closer to 1m) and he had me practice looking up every time.  It was really interesting, and seemed to help a lot.

I was still pretty despondent after this lesson, since all in all it wasn't exactly my best effort but at least we were able to finish on a good note.

After this I ended up accidentally schooling the cute young jumper gelding - his owner was around, and Trainer's next lesson canceled.  He was a total star, jumped around like a champ, and I didn't really miss to any jumps or make too many mistakes.  So that was nice and redeeming!  It was like being a different rider.  Somehow I find riding other peoples' horses is a lot easier than riding my own, sometimes.


  1. So jealous you have access to such a top level trainer!!! Go you on making it work!

    1. I am absurdly lucky and really can't explain how grateful I am for the opportunity to ride with him! Something I remind myself of every day! I'm just glad it ended on a decent note since I'm supposed to get around a real course at a horse show tomorrow, could be entertainment!

  2. 1.25m is giant and a thing of nightmares. If it makes you feel any better, last lesson I had my trainer told me I wasn't allowed to touch my horse's mane again.

    1. Hahaha this made me laugh. 1.25m is fun! Teehee. Now if it were an oxer I would have probably thrown up and fallen off, but, you know, baby steps :)

      That's really funny, are you a dedicated mane grabber?

  3. sorry you had a crappy ride... love the trainer's positive attitude tho! i always love/hate when the solution to all my riding problems turns into something as simple like 'look up'. in any case, glad you powered through it and then got some redemption with the other horse :)

    if it makes you feel any better - half strides are essentially the bane of my existence and i somehow am skilled enough to hit them every time at the lofty heights of 30cm lol

    1. Haha thanks! Definitely some redemption, I felt like crap when I hopped off mine and then felt gobs better when we were done schooling the other one. I'm so lucky to have a second horse I can school sometimes, it makes a huge difference mentally. And ugh so frustrating!!!! My trainer always comes up with the most simple of solutions and I'm just like, WHY COULD I NOT THINK OF THAT MYSELF. So frustrating sometimes but hey at least we're getting somewhere.

      Hahaha you and me both, I love half strides so much. Waaaaah :(

  4. He sounds like a great trainer-awesome rider and good teacher, which is hard to find. The looking up at the last stride thing really does help, its a good trick to remember. However when rides aren't going well there is something about staring down the fence that I feel will help? LOL. Also, I too love the half stride and when I see it I'm always like "kick, no pull, no kick! AWWWWWW CRAAAAAAPP!" Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I've been riding a horse lately who does not appreciate my indecision so will stop. He will take any distance as long as I make a decision! (easier said than done) Anyway, love your blog!

    1. Yes he really is, we're so so so fortunate! It is a great trick but hard to remember. Gosh well that will definitely teach you to decide one way or another, hahah! Hopefully you picked that up fast :) Aren't half strides great...

      Thank you very much for your kind words and comments, great to hear from you!

  5. I get in a similar mode where I stare down the jumps and then never see a distance. If I just raise my eye, then voila! I am a Majikal Fantastique rider again... well... at least I find better distances lol

    1. It's a weird thing! I did it again today and it worked really really well. So strange... maybe something about peripheral vision? I dunno. But hey, whatever works!