Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Moving on.

Thanks for all the input on what to do with my helmet on my last post! I'll look into the CO trade-ins, but since it's already so old, I'm not sure they'll take it. I bought the Ovation this past summer and had only used it a handful of times up to this point, so riding in something else right now isn't a big deal. It is comfy, even if it's kind of ugly.

comfy but kind of ugly: also a good description of my horse.

I'm finally going to get around to last week's training ride from BM, and all that unfolded after it. It basically amounts to me never wanting to jump my horse ever again because I am one hundred percent sure I'm going to have a giant crash and die, and Bobby is one hundred percent in agreement with this and is willing to help facilitate it however he can. It's a long story.

Actually, no it's not. That is the story.

But first, some BM wisdom!

For a jumping horse, BM is less worried about how far his nose is poking out and more concerned with lifting the entire front half. I need to stop riding him like a dressage horse and "start riding him like a hunter". Basically, don't micromanage him. He can't see the jump if his head is tucked in.

She brought this up right away because I'd done my homework on the flat so well from the last time she was on him that he was too light for what she wanted. "Hands up, head up. Let him see what's in front of him."

but we are so good at the dressage

I was able to put this to practice in my ride yesterday, and I got exactly what she was looking for. His tan mule nose was poked out, his neck was long and up, and that lift carried all the way through his shoulders, made easy by how well he was sitting on his bum. It was a fucking awesome jumping horse canter.

BM is actually pretty much in love with Bobby's canter, so you're welcome, BM, for me being the one to suffer through Trainer's yelling and torture (which I loved, let's be honest) to make it so enjoyable. I've gotten "This is a nice horse! I really like him!" and "I wish all my Thoroughbreds cantered like this." To which I reply, "He's for sale, BM. Hint, hint."

We set up a course for him this time around, so while it was all fun and games playing with his flat work during warm up, he is Bobby, and BM started to break down the bad things once the jumps were introduced.

He started getting antsy anticipating doing his changes whenever she came across the diagonal, so BM suggested no more changes while jumping. He's confirmed in them, we know they're there, don't give him something else to get wound up about when jumping. He's got enough mental issues to focus on.
he leads such a stressful life, it's no wonder he's such a nutcase. 

She also kept preaching the most basic fundamental when jumping: Leg. If you don't know what you're going to do coming up to a jump, if you do nothing else, add leg! He turns the corner and sees a jump halfway across the ring? Add leg in that corner and keep adding it. Dropping him in front of the fence and hoping he gets us to the other side is not helpful in any way, shape, or form. He also, of course, needs to differentiate between leg meaning lengthen the stride and not just GO FAST.

This really came to light when she came down the six stride line. He just bulled through the first jump without paying any attention to it to get to the second jump. Lengthening to get the distance is fine, racing SO FAST is not. She told me to do lots of turning out of lines and splitting the jumps so that we only did one off a circle without ever coming into the line.

She also suggested riding as close to the fences as possible, circling around them and whatnot, while flatting so he doesn't think every time he gets near a jump he gets to jump it.

And finally, "This horse can't see a distance to save his life. He comes to the jump and he's just like, 'There's a fence. I'm supposed to jump it. Go fast. I have four legs. I'm a dark bay. My name is Bobby.' Anything but looking for a distance." Um, yes. Bobby is a nutshell.

Overall she got him working pretty sanely, and when she was done, she had me get on him to trot a 2' vertical a few times to have me get the feel of getting his head up and his eye on the jump. It was...not great. He slammed to a stop once right off the bat which rattled me, and no amount of, "Leg, leg, leg, LEGGGGG" from BM was actually making me put my leg on. Instead, I'd freeze up and grab either mane or my neck strap, and Bobby would take over and do whatever he wanted, which was basically just run at the jump.

BM told me to stop going to the neck strap when I got scared. I've basically taught Bobby that when I grab it I'm anxious, and then he gets anxious, and everything instantly falls apart. Part of this stems from be being afraid I'm going to hit him in the mouth and get him pissed at me. To which BM said, "Well, stop. You're not going to catch him in the mouth. You're a good rider with a good base of support. Sit up, lean back, and slip the reins if you have to."

That's all well and good so long as curl into the fetal position and pray you make it safely to the other side isn't your current go-to.

freshly clipped and braided, and looking for cookies.

The truth is that Bobby has slowly chiseled away at all my confidence over the past year, and my crash two weeks ago firmly solidified in my mind that bad things happen when jumping Bobby. I am scared shitless to jump this horse right now. An eighteen inch vertical--essentially a raised ground pole--is cause for a serious freak out. And it's not just when I'm in the saddle. When BM was jumping him, she came around to a 2'6" oxer, and I was sitting on the mounting block having an anxiety attack about him throwing on the brakes and crashing into the jump. He didn't, of course. He went right over.

Yes, I know this is not a good relationship to have with your horse. Guess what? He's for sale! Someone buy him instead of just telling me to sell him! And in the meantime?

"Find a packer to jump things with to rebuild your confidence!" Check. BM has offered to let me lope over as many tiny jumps as I need on her giant, saintly TB when I get the chance.

"Have someone with more experience jump Bobby in the meantime!" Check. BM will be doing all the jumping on him from now on unless I'm feeling very brave and ballsy and like I've jumped 4'+ on him before, which I have, and easily, and without being a total fucking chicken.

"Do fun things with him that will boost your confidence!" Check. This horse is really good at dressage when not randomly pitching fits, and he's been agreeable to letting me access all his buttons and some new ones lately. The jumping with BM will be good to keep his brain happy, and I'll enjoy his fancy flat work,

"Look at all possible health and tack problems!" Check. He's been on Magnesium for almost two weeks now, and it might be contributing to his overall pleasant demeanor on the flat. BM also hiked my jump saddle up a good six inches further onto his shoulders, and said she felt an instant difference to the freedom in his trot.

So. We will proceed with the game plan for now. I always appreciate reader feed back, but on this one, I feel mentally shitty enough all on my own. It's a good plan. We're making progress. I'll either jump him again or I won't. He'll either sell or he won't. It's January. We can do whatever we want right now, and I'll try to come to grips with currently feeling like a complete fucking loser instead of a total bad ass. This too shall pass.

that one time we jumped a prelim skinny because we were brave and ballsy.


  1. I completely and totally understand how you're feeling right now, and it feels like absolute shit. It's like every negative emotion you could possibly experience at the same time. But.. the good thing is you have an AWESOME game plan and a great support system! You'll be Badass Carly again. I know it.

  2. I know how much you love blog readers telling you what to do, so I'm telling you that I love your current plan.

  3. First of all, you ARE always and forever a total bad ass: don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    On the Bobby front, you and your BM are making the best choice for everyone involved and not doing anything erratically or spontaneously without lots of thought and effort. This sport, especially jumping, is far too dangerous not to be enjoying yourself, and if Bobby isn't your jumping horse anymore, then so be it. Only you know the answer to that.

    Keep your head up!

  4. Oh girl, I am SO SORRY you're dealing with all of this. As you know I went through similar feelings with Miles and it just plain sucks. I'm glad you've got a plan, and that you have some help.

    Always know you're NEVER, EVER alone in this, and I'm always around to chat. I'm particularly good at long-distance wine drinking and listening <3 <3 <3

  5. I went through this exact same crap with Fiction. He made me terrified to jump. I'm pretty positive Bobby and Fiction are twins. Every time you right about him I find myself nodding and agreeing with you.

    In my opinion, you either adapt your hopes and dreams to fit the horse you have, or sell and find a horse to fit your dreams. I picked the former, but only because jumping and eventing were never my true passions. In your case, I completely, 100% understand your desire to sell Bobby. I was there.

  6. Been there, done that. And it really sucks.

  7. Ugh, that sucks so much - like others I have been there and done that. But I love your plan, and you'll find Badass Carly in there after your headache is all better. Hugs!

  8. Dropping him in front of the fence and hoping he gets us to the other side is not helpful in any way, shape, or form.

    ...but this is the only way I know how to jump.

    I feel like all this shit is cyclical in nature and what craps out will eventually be glorious again.

  9. I'm sorry this sucks so much right now. I hope it gets better.

  10. Yes, this too shall pass. You are a bad ass. A bad ass with a plan!

  11. Been here! Though I overcame it...a little. Still scared shitless to ride XC fences over 2ft but I'm jumping again. Also doesn't help when your horse randomly refuses and is nasty about it. Do you boo boo. If Bobby isn't working out, its your decision! Seriously LOLed at the "I have four legs, Ima dark bay, my name is bobby' comment though haha

  12. It's amazing how much our confidence erodes when we're not paying attention. I have BEEN THERE and it SUCKS and it would probably still scare me to watch someone jump the bitch mare. Heck. I'm not jumping my perfectly nice horse right now because I don't want to go there again.

    So anyways. Be your bad self. (Take care of your bad self too). And if you want to talk, seriously, do. There's nothing wrong with being afraid of scary things.

  13. It's is a good plan and you ARE a fucking badass no matter what your current feeling.

    Could the "Add Leg" fairy please come and help us all out? The struggle the real.

  14. Add me to the list of those of us who have been there. Like you say, this too shall pass :)

  15. Pretty much a more badass version of my last post. Except you are a waaaay better rider than I. I'd never do most of the jumping you have done, so even if you quit, you have achieved a lot.

    Anyone who reads your blog can validate you have given a lot to Bobby, no shame in passing him on to someone that fits where he is now and you getting something for where you are now. Everyone changes, and that's ok. If not, dressage the shit outa him, at least he's good at that. Or go do gymkhana or something to keep his ADHD self from overthinking.

  16. Hey - we've all been there. Chin up :)

  17. That sucks but it sounds like you have a great game plan and some wonderful support from your BM. It will all get better :)

  18. It's definitely a good plan! Glad you have a great BM & trainer to work with. Maybe she'll take the hint. :)
    I felt like complete crap when I finally decided to sell my horse. Not because I met her the day she was born, not because her father was my favorite horse EVER or her mother was one of the sweetest mares or that her breeder was a friend who died of cancer after I bought the mare. No, I felt like crap because I was "giving up", even though it was still the best decision.

  19. I still get comments from people on selling Fawkes but I say screw em. Keep the horse, sell the horse - you are the one there everyday and only your opinion really matters. Also? You are awesome, nervous about jumping Bobby or not.

  20. Who are these people feeling that they know better than you how to deal with your situation?!?! I'm so sorry your head is still hurting. Head pain is the worst - its so all consuming. :( Good luck with your plan and your horse selling. We've got your back!

  21. I agree with everyone else: you are and always will be a total badass Carly! I don't comment often but I am an avid reader and I admire you so much.

    Sometimes the horse is worth changing our expectations and goals for, sometimes we need a different horse to be able to achieve our goals. Sometimes we change our goals for the horse and then realize we don't really want to do that. It's a tough spot to be in, especially with all the changes that have occurred over the past 6 months. It will get better. *Hug* I'm glad you have your BM to help you!

  22. I like plans - plans are good. Wishing you the very best luck, whatever the outcome.

  23. Guuuuuurl! Don't you tell me what to do. That's my job, as the internet commenter, and you can't take it from me! ;)

    Sucks when your confidence takes a solid horse head straight to the brain and decides to go on vacation. Because of that, I am demanding you share more about this confidence boosting ride. Like. Right meow.

  24. We've all been through those low spots. You're awesome, and you ARE a great rider- things will definitely turn around for you soon!

  25. Seconding what the above people have said. You're a BA. Life is short. Be happy!!

  26. Game plan is essential. I'm glad the Mg is working! And that you and Bobby will be back on the path to badassitutde shortly!

  27. I don't jump anymore because I lost all of my confidence. Jumping is my love. I know how it feels. Dressage is safe and fun for me right now. You have a great plan. I still can't find a packer, even though my horse is a packer for someone with just a smidge of confidence. Unfortunately I lack even a smidge. I am hoping to find a trainer to help me get over my fear this summer. This too shall pass!


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