Horse Life

Trust

I started blubbering about this to Husband the other day, but then I saw the look on his face: like I had sprouted 6 heads or something, so I figured I’d just ramble about it here.

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I’ve kept it no secret that P and I used to struggle mightily over him stopping at jumps. New jumps, old jumps, plain jumps, decorated jumps….all he was equally likely to stop at.

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My most familiar position

Sometimes you could tell strides out that takeoff wouldn’t be happening:

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Sometimes you had no idea:

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So my way of dealing with it was to crawl him around to jumps. Because while I can sit the slow refusals, my stickability wasn’t as assured when he’d refuse suddenly. But that caused some terrible habits- pulling at him every stride, having little (or zero) momentum to jumps, taking my leg off and stiffening every muscle in my body to keep myself in the saddle. Oh, and leaning too. Because the fetal position will definitely help you stay on.

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And so we both had to relearn….well, everything. I was pushed way out of my comfort zone and P was faced with bigger, scarier jumps.

But not right away, and I can’t even pinpoint a time where I felt overwhelmed. Everything we did week after week built upon the last until I found myself actually enjoying P for the first time since he was, uh, 4.

And even after Trainer B departed for Florida in December, we continued to cruise along- crushing 2’9″ jumper classes, our first ever BN horse trial, and signing an entry form for a Novice CT with confidence (that was ultimately cancelled BUT I STILL SIGNED UP SO IT COUNTS). Felt pretty unstoppable.

Riding has been quite iffy lately, thanks to the weather so P keeps getting multiple days off, and even though he’s come back to work each time with a very “Yes, ma’am” attitude, I’m finding my own confidence has been on a steady downward spiral.

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What’s frustrating is there’s literally NO reason for it. I’ve been pretty much mostly working on my own deficiencies on the flat, with some jumping thrown in a couple days/week. And no matter what I’ve pointed P at, even if it’s something he’s literally never seen before, or previously had issues with, he’s been willing.

He used to see gymnastics (though not very often), or even a few trot poles in a row, panic, and either RUN through them or refuse. Now:

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He also used to TAKE OFF down a line of jumps. Now I find myself setting things like this 2’6″ to a 3′ line and actually jumping it:

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Then we went back to Trainer B’s when he came back for a weekend in January, and P jumped (on the first try) the lattice fence that used to be the source of all despair:

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January 2018- not caring a bit

Bounces- I would NEVER do them. I convinced myself that P would just take a flying leap over all of them. You have no idea how nervous I was turning to this:

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Even when they were raised and looked ALOT different. Which was always a deal breaker for P:

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Thanks to one of my failed move ups to BN, where P refused an SJ warmup jump with a barrel under it repeatedly until I scratched, I avoided barrels at all costs. Until last week. And guess what? It was fine.

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P’s never seen a corner jump in his life. One time Trainer B started to set one up, then P couldn’t even make it over a plank jump he’d seen only a billion times before, so the lesson was rerouted and we never jumped it. So I set one up last week. And again, NBD.

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And then the other night. I totally stole Bette’s exercise (though modified for the barn’s arena) and tried it out.

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So what the hell is my problem? I’ve done a lot of thinking about this and it wasn’t fun to say it out loud (and it’s not fun to type it), but I still don’t trust him.

I trust him on the ground, trust him with my kids, trust him solo in the woods, trust him in a dino costume….but I don’t trust him as we’re heading to a jump. And I don’t know how to change that, but I also know that I contributed to his stopping problem and if I’m not careful, it’s going to come back. P’s a sensitive soul and really reacts to me. When I was getting all defensive on the way to a fence, P would stop because I stopped riding. Then it became habit. When Trainer B gets on his back, he gets P to move and jump in ways I can only dream of…but Trainer B is confident and clear about what he wants. I’m not. I was for awhile, but it’s dwindling now.

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Sooooo….what to do? Not jump for the next 2 weeks until Trainer B makes another trip up to NC? Commission Husband to learn key phrases and randomly shout them at me? I’m kind of at a loss.

I mean, there’s plenty to do on the flat. We’re FINALLY going to see Trainer J this week (OMG IT’S BEEN SO LONG), and I’ve been dropping my stirrups for a few minutes (until I start flopping- then it’s not fair to P) every other ride in hopes of gaining a more independent seat. Though better than before, I really need to kick the leaning habit for good.

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My brain on repeat

I didn’t get to any of the competitions I had planned on this month- either I was too busy or they were cancelled, so tentatively our next HT is the first weekend in March. Luckily Trainer B is coming back for 2 days the week of the HT, so P will get a training ride and then the next day I’ll do a lesson and hopefully get my groove back.

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Like when I pushed him forward to jumps…

Happier times:

This all my be due to the weather as well- it hasn’t been sunny in DAYS so I may find my confidence skyrocketing once the sun shows its face.

In other news…

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So look out for a video collaboration from Triple Crown in the coming days! BO and I are super curious to see which clips they choose to integrate with other videos.

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24 thoughts on “Trust”

  1. I can totally relate. Getting your confidence back is SO HARD. My advice was do small easy stuff that you ride well to and get that to be your MO again. Try to ditch the bad habits to easy stuff cause we all know they come back for the tougher stuff. At least they do for me…

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    1. Yeah, I’m thinking flatwork for now, with maybe some little jumps here and there, until my jump trainer gets back and we can get back into a routine. I just can’t seem to let go of the past, even though P has totally moved on!

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  2. OMG i am such a chicken little. I can feel your whole post. I do not however think of you as a chicken little. I think you are a smart person who realizes that a leopard doesn’t often change its spots. HOWEVER, I think once you are back to riding more often this will go away and you will realize that P has actually CHANGED HIS SPOTS! 🙂 But yes i do think our go to moment is to think the worst!! I still think Remus is going to refuse (and he hasnt refused in a couple years!! he used to refuse a lot) he may look but he goes over. I think you will figure this out but it might help for your hubby to shout things at you. We can make up flash cards with Trainer B’s help! 🙂 HA

    AND THiS LACK OF SUN IS SEVERELY MAKING ME A GRUMPUS GRUMP. UGH….

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    1. You’re completely right- for some reason I immediately go to worst case scenario (in my case, that’s P stopping) instead of ride P for where he is now, which is a willing horse who’s doing everything I ask. Such mental baggage UGH. And totally not fair to P. He had issues, they were dealt with, and he’s moved on but I can’t let go. Such a typical couples relationship!

      I can just see Matt trying to mimic Trainer B. That’d be something.

      AND YES ABOUT THE SUN JUST COME OUT ALREADY.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My only advice, taken with a metric ton of salt, would be to take a step back and focus on things you are comfortable doing. Maybe don’t push for new fences, grids and heights right now, but instead set up easier lines at lower heights where you know you can rock it until you feel that sense of confidence and trust build back up.

    For what it’s worth, it think you two look amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! He’s been so fabulous I’m dumbfounded as to why I feel like this. He’s not stopping at anything, why can’t I just get over it? Luckily (or not), there’s plenty for me to work on besides jumps! Honestly I think I just need a Trainer B lesson (and the sun to come out for once) to get back in line.

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  4. I agree with RR – so much stuff can be worked on at the pole/cavalletti level. A lot of really technical questions. If you aren’t feeling comfortable jumping on your own it’s not a death knell. You can still keep working and striving and building that confidence back up!

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    1. Yep, there’s plenty to work on without the jumps! Just frustrating once you think you’re past something and then it comes creeping back up. And P has been doing so well, I’m just not sure where it’s coming from!

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  5. yea i feel ya on this. confidence is such a fickle game and doesn’t play by the rules. it takes me WAY LONGER than i ever expect to get comfortable at new heights or with new challenges. and for me, the best tool i know for protecting and building confidence is just… sticking to a routine. making everything feel normal and mundane. which like… obvi is really hard to do when the weather is crappy and the trainer is out of town.

    you guys totally got this tho. P looks like a whole new horse these days. i have no doubt that if you just stay the course, keep with this new program with trainer B, and continue your focus on building and establishing confidence in horse and rider (instead of, say, trying to prove anything), you’ll be ready to attack the season when things really get started!!

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    1. I agree- I’m a total lesson junkie and going so long between has me regressing a bit. Rather than pushing him forward like Trainer B worked so hard with me on, I’m finding I’m letting him drag along again. I’d rather stick to flatting and little things for the time being than cause any further falling backward!

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  6. I know the thing that helped me the most with my jumping confidence with Bobby was small hunter courses. That loooong approach to jumps gave me time to slow my crazy down, process, and convince myself that nothing bad was going to happen at, over, or after the jump.

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    1. Ha! I may have to try that to slow my own crazy down as well. It’s really just the approach to the first jump the first time lately. Once he jumps the first one I usually relax but I wish I could just give him a break- he’s been so awesome lately!

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  7. Ugh I feel you this post. I think so many of us can absolutely relate to this for sure. It gets so intimidating to lose that trust, because you think how in the world can I ever get that back? And then you get hard on yourself because you think why can’t I do this ONE THING but of course it’s not that easy. I know my issue most times is that my fear says “you don’t trust this horse” but my brain says “no, you know that it’s yourself you don’t trust, so since you don’t trust yourself to do what you should/need to do, you don’t trust the horse because he feeds off of you.” So I totally understand where you’re coming from!
    One thing I tell my mom is that it’s easy to have someone push us, to tell us what we need to do because they know what we can and can’t do and we trust them. It’s infinitely harder to push ourselves. So I tell her to drop her baggage at the gate. I want her to clear her mind. It’s a new day, a new ride. You have a good, willing horse. Any frustration, impatience or anything except how good of a horse you have at that moment has to go away. Whisper is so sensitive just like P, and can get so upset if you do. And trust me it’s hard. I have to take my own advice many days. But I find it helps. I don’t know if this will help you at all, but I hope a bit. Honestly, I think you do a lot more than you give yourself credit for. It’s hard to set stuff up at those heights, but you’ve been doing it. You’ve been riding it. While it is hard to truly admit out loud that you don’t trust P, I think you’re still doing your best (and SUCCEEDING I might add (at least it looks like you are for sure)) to work through that by pointing him at the barrels and doing grids. So I still say go you. And hopefully this wasn’t an uber-long-winded comment lol.

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    1. I love love love this! It’s so hard to leave it at the gate, but I know I need to for his sake. If I don’t think we’re going to jump, he can feel it. And lately he’s been ignoring me and jumping anyway but I know that won’t last forever!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I know I sound like a broken record but…. I went through the SAME issues with Chimi when he made the switch to a confident horse!!!! It’s times like this that you know PTSD is real and effects people in all situations!!! I joked around that I was suffering from my own version of PTSD from the old Chimi stopping and thought he was going to stop when in actuality he was super excited to be jumping jumps. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% cured (more like my PTSD has morphed into being afraid he’s going to over jump the jump and launch me out of the saddle b/c he’s so damn athletic) but I found consistent lessons helped keep everything under control. Of course I’m in the same situation as you and haven’t had a consistent schedule since before Christmas due to weather, and weather, and oh the 1 nice lesson day trainer was in Canada, and then more bad weather… GAH!!! It’s just what happens this time of year… grrrr…

    But anyways, like what everyone else has said just work on things that you are confident with for now, and have fun! Trainer B will be back from Fla before you know it and you guys will be rocking and rolling and kicking ass and taking names in a short time b/c all the hard work was done last year and 2018 is going to be about creating new confidence, which will come!!!! Rome wasn’t built in a day but you’ve got the foundation down and the rest will come 🙂 And for what it’s worth I was afraid to canter my horse in my dressage lesson today b/c I thought he was going to buck me off and totally froze and had a shitty canter depart. But after realizing we were ok and relaxing into it and having my trainer help me though it we were cantering around confidently and had some really lovely traditions. So welcome to adult ammy problems and don’t freak out to much b/c we’re all in the same boat!!!

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    1. And I know I sound like a broken record when I say I sooo appreciate it when I hear about Chimi because I’ve only known him as the rockstar he currently is!

      But seriously the PTSD. It’s ridiculous 😂 P has long since moved on- he’s all, “which jump? Ok” and I have no reason (now) to be feeling this way. We were really cruising along in December/January and I’m just not sure why I’m back to feeling like this.

      Once we get back to training regularly with B I think it’ll go back to normal. Especially when he takes P Novice!

      Adult ammy problems are real!! I’m glad I’m not the only one who goes through this.

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  9. Ugh. WHY must trust be SO hard to revive? I’m going through similar stuff with my endurance mare and her spooking habit. I second guess and have a really hard time committing to anything above a trot with her unless we’re in a really controlled area.

    For whatever it’s worth, you look like a really great team together in all of your recent media. You both look confident with the tasks at hand.

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