Monday, June 12, 2017

Lesson Suckage

I didn't get around to writing about my lesson last week because it was one of those rides where I got off frustrated and annoyed at myself. Like, really frustrated to the point of having to stop mid-lesson to ask BM to--once again--place my body parts where they needed to go so that I wouldn't cry.

That's not an exaggeration. Have I mentioned before how BM often has to double as my riding therapist and not just my instructor? Poor BM.

Since I'm pretty well directionless (and broke) when it comes to showing at the moment, BM didn't let me focus on anything fun like fine tuning lateral work or trying to iron out the mother fucking mediums that have all but abandoned us. Instead she knocked me down a peg or thirty and we spent forty five minutes trying to get me to stop with my hands. Just stop. All of it.

how now brown cow says this lesson wouldn't have
lasted so long if i knew how to fucking ride.

I've never hidden the fact that I'm a handsy rider. I think that runs fairly rampant in ye olde amateur. When in doubt, start fiddling. BM has been laying into me about it since I started lessoning with her last year--over fences to stop pulling, and now with a dressage focus to not touch the inside rein under fear of capital punishment. I've gotten better, but it's still my favorite go-to bad habit.

BM had me lengthen my reins way out. My outside rein was allowed to be a quiet, still anchor point, but I wasn't allowed to use it to bring Bobby's head down. He was supposed to self regulate his gaits and topline. If he hollowed, send him forward. If he still wanted to invert, try sending him forward again and then I was given permission to go briefly to the reins as a quick reminder.

BM is big into preaching about letting the horse make a mistake before fixing it. No micromanaging, no jumping onto every misstep before the horse is even aware he's done something wrong. He has to be responsible for himself and carry the load with you.

does this look like a horse that wants to be responsible
for himself? no. it does not.

Bobby and I were not getting this. We were losing bend and the horse felt like his back was unyielding brick. Putting my leg on him gave me nothing, and I wasn't understanding at all the concept BM was trying to teach us. What was the fucking end goal here? I know I'm handsy, but what was I doing at that moment that was actually doing any good for myself or my horse's way of going?

So I halted Bobby in frustration and BM came over for a pow wow while I forced back angry tears.

Basically all she was trying to get us to achieve was self carriage which is not a foreign concept to me, but the way we were going about it was. She wanted him to reach down and find the connection on his own. Well, HOW am I supposed to do that if I don't have any connection to the bit myself? When my reins are a million miles long and he's putting his head in the air, I can't even feel the bit anymore. WHERE IS THE CONNECTION, WHERE IS THE BIT, WHERE IS MY HORSE, QUICK GRAB THE REINS AND FIDDLY FUCKING FIDDLE.

Bobby is a big, long horse and we both do better about being light once I've gotten him more collected and packaged together. He's easier to hold with my seat and legs when he's not so long everywhere.

But BM said, no, stop being so dramatic. You have a life line with the outside rein. You're not dropping contact, you're just not forcing it. Let him push forward and reach for the bit on his own. Don't force it on him, and he'll come up and over his entire topline all by himself.

ponies want cookies, not flat work. 

She sent us off into the canter to get Bobby's back loosened up, but first we had to suffer through more walking because we instantly lost even the tiniest bit of forward momentum we'd gained. The canter felt wild and shitty and like Bobby was going to tip over and fall at any moment. I couldn't find a happy length for my stirrups despite adjusting them twice and I vacillated between feeling like a jockey and not being able to reach my irons at any point of time. Plus I wan't allowed to fix all our problems with my reins so I basically just quit riding with all my body parts because that seemed like a good solution.

BM kicked us back into the trot fairly quickly. I felt like I had a slightly better handle on what we were trying to accomplish for the second half of the lesson, but it wasn't until BM wrapped things up and told me to keep working on it that I started to get what she was aiming for as we cooled out at the walk and Bobby was reaching and giving me a feel of the reins again without either of us getting heavy.

up to no good instead of finishing his breakfast

This was not a fun lesson for me. In fact, I'm still pretty unhappy with it several days later. But there were things I was able to draw from it, and I understand the concept of what BM is trying to do with us. Something from Kaila's post really resonated with me: "I am paying her to help me with areas I am not as strong." BM is the first quality instructor I've had in a long, long time and I have a lot of holes in my training that need to be filled. Doesn't make me feel like any less of a loser who can't ride.

15 comments:

  1. Ah yeah we did have the same lesson.

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    1. Nothing like a side of overly emotional horse girl tears to go with your lesson.

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  2. Fun fact: my dressage trainer tied a piece of baling twine to my right side d-ring, with a knot at the end so I can hold it in my hand without it slipping. That's the anchor for my right hand (when it's on the outside) bc damn that hand is stupidly fucking disobedient. I don't use it often, but I leave that twine there always anyway. And just tuck it under the flap at shows. Bc dammit. I'm an ammy for life and my hands are lawless. Or.... In other words..... I feel your pain.

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    1. Hmm, I will have to experiment with this. Although maybe to anchor my inside hand into stillness so it stops with the fiddly pulling bullshit.

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  3. OMG I had the same idea that Emma suggested. I hope it helps, am sure if I get back under a good instructor I will have similar struggles #ammy4life.

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    1. You never think you're doing *that* bad until you get in front of a good trainer and they're like yeah, no.

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  4. So, I've been trying to work on being less handsy with Jamp because pulling is my favorite, and Badger no likey. Here's what I've learned in my sad, not to successful attempts:
    I've been riding Jamp for the last 7 years. For said period of time, I've been handsy. So when I'm being all soft and not pulling, he has no idea what he's supposed to be doing. I'm guess Bobby feels the same way. So you're not just retraining yourself, you're also retraining Bobby. Don't put all the blame on yourself here, you're both trying to figure this out!

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    1. In conclusion: We both suck. :P If nothing else, fuck yes, we are both confused!

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  5. I've often thought about putting my dog's shock collar on my right wrist for the exact same reason. I'll even stare at my rogue right hand as it's doing all the bad things AND IT WON'T STOP.

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    1. I tried riding in a wrist brace several times because all sorts of strange things go on with that hand, but then my elbow would take up the slack and go jutting off for the sidelines instead. Who knew it was so fucking hard to control your own body?!

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  6. But bonus: that means you're taking lessons.

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    1. At least we are taking lessons, and with a good instructor to boot! Things could always be worse.

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  7. Every once in a awhile I go through a crisis where all I do is pull/grab/lift/drop/wriggle my hands around. My trainer makes me hold a crop across the tops of my hands (under my thumbs) and it really shuts me down! It feels more permanent/sturdy to me for whatever reason so I get less anxious and grabby. Just an idea! I feel you on the angry tears thing - my last lesson was a hot mess too :(

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  8. Sounds like a frustrating lesson - but definetly gave you some food for thought

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If you can't say anything nice, fuck off.