Getting There…

I’m feeling….tentatively optimistic about our lesson tonight. I rode bareback last night and Robbye and I were both at about 80%, I think. I had some tense moments, but I think I was able to catch myself and calm myself pretty well. I worked on relaxing my leg, riding on very little contact, and overall breathing and un-tensing. She had a bit of disobedience, but mostly listened well. Her steering from my leg/seat/body is getting better, I think. Or maybe I’m getting better at asking. Either way, it’s much-needed progress.

So, I’m a little nervous and a little excited to see how she behaves in our lesson tonight.

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Lost a Couple Weeks

Ugh. Having a crappy month, that’s for sure. I think it’s probably a combination of my mood and Robbye’s mood, but I think it also may be more than that. I’ve started treating Robbye for ulcers, and I’m hoping to see some improvement in her demeanor and work ethic. Hopefully.

The rides since I last wrote have been 90% crappy, and as a result I really haven’t felt like writing about them. Here’s a short recap:

Friday before last: Lesson where we worked hard on working hard. We’re starting to get her round and on the bit. About halfway through the lesson I accidentally dropped my stirrups and just knew that I wasn’t going to be allowed to pick them back up again. And I wasn’t!

Saturday before last: Bareback, we worked on some of our exercises from our lesson. Overall an okay ride.

Sunday before last: Our jumping lesson with Adriene. It was…dramatic. And crappy. And very disheartening. The exercise was something I believe we should have been able to do easily, but we absolutely couldn’t manage it. I don’t want to write about it – we didn’t learn anything from it. The main lesson Adriene wanted to teach me was that I need to stop making everything more complicated and stop getting emotional when Robbye is disobedient. These both boil down to RELAX.

Monday before last: Took the day off, sad.

Last Tuesday: Practiced Adriene’s exercise, made a little easier (added a stride and just used ground poles). She was okay, but I was still frustrated, and she still threw a temper tantrum.

Last Wednesday: It was really cold and I was discouraged. I didn’t ride.

Last Thursday: Robbye and I fought about dressage.

Friday: Robbye and Michele and I fought about dressage. We started out working on roundness and on-the-bit-ness, but that soon turned into combination Robbye-issue-resolution and Annye-relaxation. I again heard that I need to calm down, not take things personally, and RELAX. The lesson was not good, but I’m trying really hard to learn this hard lesson, especially since Michele and Adriene both tried to teach it to me, independently and within the same week. I’m really putting a lot of effort into being relaxed!

Saturday: I wasn’t relaxed. Robbye kept leaving the ring and whacked me pretty hard on a fence. It wasn’t until after this ride that I decided to really consciously work on the RELAX lesson.

Sunday: Took a trip to Twin Towers. It started out crappy – Robbye was slow and distracted, I was scared, and she was running out of everything. We had a huge fight at a fence (one we’ve done before…), and I think I may have finally gotten through to her. At one point we had an amazing gallop across the park – I really felt like we were doing cross country! We jumped the jumps that showed up in front of us, and we really got moving pretty good, too. It was just enough well-behaved awesome to get me excited about riding again.

Our ride last night reinforced the feeling. I was very careful to be relaxed and calm, even when there were scary things (tractors) on the other side of the treeline. I worked on steering with my seat and laying off of the mouth contact, and, though she did leave the arena once, it was much less dramatic than the last few times. When I cantered, I got a regular lazy slow canter…until I really asked for a canter – and then I got her gallop from Twin Towers! It was instant and magnificent, and we jumped out of the gallop a couple times just for fun. We also did our ground pole exercise, with me making an effort to RELAX, lay off of the reins, and steer with my seat and body.

So, lessons from this funk:

  1. I need to buckle down and kick Robbye’s butt sometimes. She’s big enough and old enough that she can deal with a CTJ meeting.
  2. I need to give myself a break sometimes. This is the first really hard thing I’ve done in my life – it’s going to take a long time to learn, and I’m going to have setbacks. I have to be able to forgive myself of that.
  3. I need to RELAX all of the time. My being tense only makes our issues a million times worse. It makes me a bad rider, and Robbye picks up on it and takes advantage of it.
  4. Robbye is fit. I can ask her to gallop across the park and she won’t die. If she has to jump four 2′ jumps along the way, all the better!
  5. I still love Robbye. I still think she has a lot of potential. At the beginning of this funk, I considered that maybe we weren’t a good match…but I don’t think that now. We have a lot to work on, but we’ve both made so much progress, and it’s worth it to me to keep working with her.

Bad Show and a Week Off

Well, the CT was horrible. Pretty much every part of it went wrong in some way, and I just do not want to write about it. Lessons learned:

  • I really need to learn how to commit – to everything. To kicking butt, to fences, to my own cofidence in general.
  • Robbye is fit. I need to stop worrying about her running out of steam. I need to wear her into the ground, when it’s necessary!

The only time I rode this week was Monday – I had a “kick butt” dressage ride, where I tried Yogi’s bit. It has a little leverage, so it was nice to see how she reacted to it. Overall, I didn’t feel like it made much of a difference. I don’t really need stopping power anyway – I just need to teach Robbye that she needs to always listen to me.

Maybe I need to take what I learned about her bucking – ride through it, then make her work harder – and apply that to all of her misbehavior. I’ll try that next time she’s a turd.

We have a dressage lesson tonight and a jumping lesson Sunday. Exciting!

Lesson and Jumping

Robbye and I got our lesson early this week, so that I could have today off to prepare for the show. Woo!

Our lesson was really about getting Robbye on the bit and rounded – and I think she did a great job! Every ride, the roundness is more obvious, she drops her head more, and she holds that position for longer. Now I just have to get in the habit of really asking for it and really maintaining it when she offers.

Last night, we did a short jump school. Rob was okay, but very lazy. She never seems to get up about jumping anymore, which is weird to me. I may ride in spurs for the show tomorrow…I really don’t want to spend three courses crashing through fences.

With that said, I have two goals for tomorrow:
1. Ask for “brilliance” in dressage. This is a schooling show at a venue we’re familiar with; there’s no reason to hold back. I can’t always be content with error-free in dressage if we really want to do well, and this is a great place to start asking for more.

2. Don’t chicken out on any of the jumps. If Robbye does, that’s okay – I expect it…but there’s no reason for me to be afraid of jumps. I’m not going to come off, and Robbye only acts up when she thinks I’m going to let it happen!

September Review

Halfway into October and I haven’t reviewed September! I really really blame the book I’m reading. It’s too good, and I can read it at work.

So this month was…a bit of a bust. It started okay, but we never really accomplished anything. Lessons were good, but none of it seemed to really stick. Rob was a turd, and I was in a bad mood as the summer ended. I also may have been in a bad mood because I didn’t ride nearly as much as I’m used to – I need to get back to riding 5 days a week!

October does seem to be looking slightly better…and a whole lot colder.

Another Catch Up Post

Robbye’s special hair.

I really really hope that the combined test and jumper classes we do this weekend go well. I really need a pick-me-up.

Last Monday (that was back in September, haha!), Robbye and I had a short dressage ride out in the outdoor, right as it was getting dark. It was a great ride – Robbye thought about spooking, but I used my new strategies to keep her working and focused on me. This really seems to work with her – distract her enough or push her hard enough, and she forgets that she was planning on being stupid.

Last Tuesday we had another dressage ride. I worked on transitions (lots of them, especially at the canter) and my position. We then ran through our test for this weekend. I think I really truly know it now, so I don’t have to be paranoid!

Wednesday we had an amazing dressage ride. We worked on more transitions, the yield against the wall (which she really seemed to get), and my position. I was very excited to see the lightbulb go off, re: the yield against the wall.

Thursday we had another dressage ride. Yes, it was dressage week. I don’t remember specifically what we did…it’s possible I didn’t have a plan at that point. Tsk!

Friday was our lesson. It was…not particularly good. I ended the lesson extremely frustrated with myself and my own abilities (…lack thereof).

Saturday we both took a much-needed day off.

Sunday I showed Big Al at the Standardbred World Show. It was…stressful. And not particularly successful. But, I feel honored to be given the opportunity to ride such a successful horse at the world show.

Monday I longed in side reins, and really focused on transitions. I do think she’s getting better at listening on the longe line.

Tuesday we had a morale-boosting o/f ride. There were no attempted run-outs and only one bucking, careening party across the arena. The fences weren’t high, but they were about what they will be at the show this weekend. Hopefully we’ll jump successfully there, too!