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Doing Some Thinking

An hour long truck ride sitting next to a fuming husband who isn’t speaking to you at the moment gives you some time to think. And think I did.

What’s amazing to me about the human psyche is the constant and subconscious shift in baseline expectations that occurs in the back ground. Without some serious effort and perhaps a blog chronicling the path from A to B, it is easy to feel stuck or even a back wards slide that doesn’t truly exist.

The black pipe barely registered in my brain. Last summer? It caused an existential crises.

On the truck ride home from the lesson, I pondered my own changes in “normal”. I started to ride with Trainer AB on May 31, 2019 and this was January 25, 2020, basically eight months later. With an average of 3 lessons a month that comes to 24 lessons and at 45 minutes a lesson that equals 18 hours of instruction. Not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things given that over 5,000 hours passed during those months. But I ramble.

That very first lesson, I pulled in shaking visibly with nerves. Eeyore had taken an hour to load at home with the aid of the Hubby and he unloaded anxious and sweaty. I barely held it together to get on him, he barely held it together to stand at the mounting block. We made it a time or two around the arena with several melt downs on both our parts before Trainer had me dismount so she could try him out. She had a lot of good insights before I got back on and tried again. We did a few ground poles at the trot which he leapt over and galloped away from.

Tackling this jump was fun not fear inducing

My most recent lesson? He self loaded in his own fashion with just me and a lunge line (no more dressage whip needed yay!), traveled relaxed and unloaded with a sigh of regret of his life choices that led him to this farm on this gorgeous winter day. We warmed up on our own then got right to work on the 20 m circle working on increasing his roundness, rhythm and bend before turning to the jump course you all saw on many video clips earlier this week.

And while I left feeling a tad frustrated at still needing told to sit up and not let him drag me down and while he still got a bit rushy and we did have a run out, well thinking on it good and hard we have come a damn long way.

Love his sassy tail as we canter away from the jump. Also note his happy forward ears

As we neared home and the Hubby started talking to me again I put together a mental list of all the behaviors I now take for granted that were once major training issues:

– Trailer loading, relaxed travel, unloading calmly

– Standing mostly quiet at the trailer to be tacked. He still throws anything he can get his mouth on but that is who he is. This also includes standing still when being bridled and not running away as he did our first outing.

– Entering a new arena without having a nervous break down or screaming for other horses. I don’t recall the last screaming fit he had which used to be the soundtrack to all our rides at home or away.

– Warming up calmly. The warm up used to be half the lesson and I needed the help. Now? I’m expected to warm up w/t/c on my own with input only when something comes up. The instruction is saved for the “real” work.

– Ground poles get trotted or cantered over without a fuss. No more rushing and no more leaping over them. Also in this is his ability to go through standards that have no poles. That used to blow his mind completely and he would jump through the standards regardless.

Sure, all those things are basic skills any riding horse should have, but Eeyore wasn’t capable of those simple feats back in May. We have silently moved past those and on to other exercises/skills. It’s so easy to think about what we still aren’t doing right or what flaws in my position still need addressed because my brain has shifted the baseline expectations as we have progressed together as a team. I don’t stress about loading in the trailer because it is now an expectation that he will get on the darn thing when I ask without needing to recruit an army battalion to help me. I no longer slip his halter off beside the trailer in an open space with butterflies in my stomach because I expect him to stand still and take the bit.

While I still asked her to lower this, her refusal to do so made me shrug and laugh versus curl into the fetal position

It’s an interesting mechanism of thought processing. What used to be an issue is now barely a thought. The hope is that in another 8 months, sitting up and staying in 2 point longer after a jump will also become second nature, barely thoughts and Ill get to be frustrated about something new.

17 thoughts on “Doing Some Thinking”

  1. You’ve made amazing progress in the last 8 months. So much to be proud of here. And it’s good to that you had time to sit and think (sorry Dusty was being a bum tho!) about these things! Progress is so easily taken for granted when it takes place over such a long period of time. Every photo and video you post now makes me grin ear to ear because it is so very obvious how much more confident you are as a rider – and that’s a beautiful thing to see! I have no doubt you’ll be sitting up and 2-pointing with much more success in no time at all.

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  2. You two have made incredible progress in a short period of time. I feel like I usually takes a year to really click with a horse. We’re used to such instant gratification in this day and age and with horses, that’s just not going to happen. So, good for you and all you’ve accomplished! I’m glad you had a truck ride to realize it!!

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  3. You put your quiet time to really good use. You and Eeyore have come so far and I’m glad that you recognize it. It’s so hard to see where we came from. That’s one reason I love my blog. I also hope that Dusty feels better now.

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  4. If it makes you feel better I keep getting told about “close my fingers” and “don’t lean with your shoulders.” It’s a never-ending battle lol But you have come such a long way from 8 months ago, and I love these pictures of you and Eeyore ❤

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  5. Your progress has been incredible and Eeyore hasn’t done those things on his own – you worked for every single one of them. Don’t forget that!
    Also your leg looks fantastic – that second photo especially!

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  6. You guys have come leaps and bounds in a pretty short time! I always find it so useful to look back. It never seems like much day to day but looking back means you can see how much is what you never thought it could be!

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  7. This is awesome. And maybe my favorite part of blogging – being able to look back and get that perspective on how much has really changed. I love that you and E are clicking so well these days – can’t wait to see what this next year brings!

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  8. This is just great (and since I read your most recent post, I know why your hubby was mad but now recovered, yay!). Very good thing to ponder during my quiet time driving home from the barn. I’ve definitely made progress in the last year and I should remind myself of that, instead of thinking, “WHY must you always have to be told to bring back your outside hand and elbow” and other glitches that I repeat over and over.

    I think all equestrians are really good at falling into that trap. Our sport truly involves a life-long learning process. And even when we dare to think, hmmm, I miiiiiiight actually have that down/be kind of good at something, horses will be horses. They’re only too happy to remind us that oops, you didn’t ask right and now here we are still on the front side of the jump. Or we wind up out of the ribbons in a equitation class because we missed a diagonal we’ve gotten right 99.999999% of the time in the past (ask me how I know… #bitter).

    You and Eeyore have come SUCH a long way, keep being proud!!!

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