In an attempt to NOT create a novel of epic proportions this week, I'm going to try and break this down day by day. Assuming I have time/inclination/and etc.
Day One really starts with Day Zero, which was yesterday and horse show prep. I went to the barn, discovered all my equipment went to the show without me, and thus proceeded to toddle around bareback with a halter and leadrope and even filmed a terrible video just for you guys.
My friend came in toward the end and asked WTF, hence the abrupt ending...
Riley hauled in this morning, which in hindsight was perhaps not the most ideal plan since he hasn't shown at this venue at all this year.
He was very, very bright for our warm-up and spent some time squeaking whenever a horse passed him (cutest thing ever btw) and crowhopping after jumps in the warm-up ring.
However, I entered the show ring and getting one very backed off and spooky horse.
After this I kind of went, well jeez I guess I better get his ass in gear, and basically spent the remainder of the course kicking him forward. It felt pretty horrendous - his balance was everywhere but where it should have been, he was forward then back and never really in front of my leg, and both yanking and dumping on his forehand while trying to back off my hand. We got the rest of the course done, and the distances were good and pace okay but boy did I ever have to work. He was impressed by the jumps and just not himself.
This is what, if I'm honest, I find frustrating about this horse. He has so many wonderful and endearing qualities, but he transforms from one horse to another every day (sometimes every other jump!), and thus finding consistency with him is *really hard*. I can look at the video from Sunday and wonder why the hell we aren't jumping around the 1.20s with rounds like that, since I see a lot of riding that's at least as bad in that division, then days like today happen where I am more or less carrying the whole program and I realize this is why we are where we are. It's definitely *not* 100% his fault - I could obviously ride him so much better! - but after discussions with Trainer and a lot of attempted objective analysis, I'm actually realizing it's not ALWAYS me. He isn't the world's easiest horse by any stretch, though he's brave and honest, and that counts for a lot.
Riley says, "hey look! An oxer in the colors of my homeland!"
PS, this is why we wear a belly pad in the 1m classes.
I almost got really depressed after my round, and still feel annoyed by my/our lack of consistency. I try to work really hard at this sport, and feeling like I'm getting *nowhere* is the most frustrating thing in the world. My therapist is forever telling me that the riding has improved and that you need a solid foundation to be successful in the future - something I'm forever rolling my eyes about and thinking, jeez, she just does not understand, I need to succeed at this in a deep and soul-ripping kind of way, all consuming passion and all that shit. But in an effort to actually change my thinking patterns - this is a nod to you, Madam Therapiste - I tugged out videos from earlier this year, as well as this same horse show (on a different horse, in a lower division) last year.
I haven't watched my older videos in a long, long time. Months.
I will probably not ever forget the first time I watched my first 80cm round from this year's show season - the first time I'd seen myself ride since January - and actually crying because my riding had improved so much that I looked like a totally different rider. (Thank you, Trainer. Hat is off.) Then I spent the summer fuming that my riding sucked and I sucked and I would never get anywhere and wasn't getting anywhere ever at all and maybe I should just give up because obviously no improvement and FML.
But tonight, as I thoughtfully observed my video from what I thought, at the time, was a superbly ridden 1.0m Speed round back in May, I couldn't help but notice the differences. There are a lot of them. In the May round, despite getting to the fences well, the riding is a little all over, I'm wobbly with my body, my leg could be a lot better, my hands are not very good and I fall on Riley's neck an awful lot.
The differences from that video, just four months ago, to something like Sunday's round are pretty astonishing. Even I'm a little impressed and believe me when I say there is nobody harder on my riding than I am. Of course there are enormous improvements that can, and will, be made, and I certainly have no disillusions about that.
But I am going to acknowledge myself here, as we start to wrap up the season. Although I didn't achieve my competitive goals this year, I am hopeful that a year of laying a strong foundation will lead to more success in the years to come. I'm proud of myself for working hard and riding better, even if the outcome isn't exactly what I had hoped it would be.