Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Halt, Salute, Burst into tears

I had one of those horrible, no good, rotten, shitty rides last night that ended with me trying to hold back uncontrolable sobbing at G.

It started off reasonably well.

hubby leads the naughty boy to the arena.

One of the weakest points of our dressage test are the changes of directions. There are four in this test instead of the one in BN A and I'm having a really hard time getting Red to turn at the letter because he keeps throwing out his shoulder and leaving his hindquarters behind so he's not turning and going across straight. I had mostly sorted him out at the walk and trot warming up, focusing more on pushing his back end over with my outside leg (which would become my inside leg once we changed) instead and pulling his front end around. He was going straighter and I thought I'd figured out the secret. So I moved on to cantering.

He was fine to the left, as always.

To the right, I could. not. get him to pick up his correct lead. And I know why! Not that this is any real revelation, but I was talking myself through it as I tried to correct it, and I was trying to explain what was going on to Hubby to see if he could throw out any words of wisdom.

Firstly, the movement is, from the trot, "Approaching X, canter." So we're kind of hung out in limbo in the middle of the ring without the comfort of a corner to pick it up in. But that's the least of it. Secondly, because of my old knee injury, I have a really hard time keeping my weight evenly in both stirrups. I tried without stirrups, but that only lead to reinforcing what was really going on: Red's stupid shoulder dropping was throwing us both off balance. I would try to center my seat by shifting my weight more to the inside where it needed to be for me to be sitting in the middle of my saddle, but because his shoulder was collapsed on the inside, he wasn't in a great position to pick up his right lead--maybe an all but impossible posititon.

I almost started crying at this point after trying again and again to get him to pick up the right lead. Hubby came in and momentarily saved the day. He suggested putting Red on the longe to see if he was hurting and really couldn't pick it up. So I put a pair of BO's side reins on, put the longe on, and sent him on his way. He was fine. He picked it up four times in a row with no problems.

Red stayed on the longe and I got on, got into halfseat, and let Hubby longe us at the trot to canter. He was fine. He picked it up three times in a row with no problem.

We stayed on the circle with Hubby in the middle with the longe whip but without the line attached. I had him snap the whip when I verbally and physically asked for the canter. He was better. He picked it up correctly the first time, wrong the second time, right the third time.

What this boils down to is, I suck as a rider. Horribly.

Since I had only ridden through the entire BN B test twice, I tried to do it once more. Probably a mistake, but things could only get worse so why not, right? This also boils down to, I am an idiot. Clearly.

The test was AWFUL. Hubby videoed it, but I'm not even going to post it, it was soooo bad. Red's head was up, his energy level was down, his attention was elsewhere, and his right lead canter was nonexistent. Our changes of directions were blown. My riding was all over the place, my legs wouldn't stay in place, my hands were inconsistent, and I was pitched forward. By the time I turned at B to come in and halt, I was barely holding back tears. When I did halt, I started crying. I'm a crier anyway, much to my chagrin, but I was so disappointed and so frustrated I couldn't help it.

A few minutes later, when I had barely pulled myself together, BO came in with another boarder to ride their horses. BO pointed out that my saddle is much too small for my butt. I've known this, of course, but she said the fit is probably the biggest reason I'm having so many issues. Because my butt is so far back--pretty much on the cantel--I a) am pitching forward whether I try to sit back or not, b) am therefore having a huge problem finding and staying in the center of my seat, and c) my whole position is falling apart because my seat is getting screwed up.

She offered to let me try her dressage saddle that she never uses, and offered to watch me ride to see if she could give any pointers. I ditched my saddle and jumped on bareback. I touched Red with the spurs in the corner from the walk, and off he went on his merry right lead way. Ok, it wasn't at X and it wasn't from the trot, but at least we ended on a good note. BO said my position looked great and she saw nothing wrong with what I was doing.

I guess I've just ignore the saddle as an issue because 1) it fits Red really well, though probably a touch wide at this point from lack of topline (Speaking of, my Ecogold pad should be here any day now!), and 2) I don't have the money to buy an new saddle right now anyway so ohh friggin' well. Hopefully BO's saddle will show me if my saddle is really the root of all evils. If it is, I'm going to have to find a way to budget in something else. I'm also going to budget in a lesson before Burgundy Hollow to run through my dressage test with BO. Hopefully I'll get my shiz together soon.

sharing the love with artie after my ride. if that face doesn't make
you feel better, i don't know what will!

the smiling kelpie helping with this post.

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