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.
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