Monday, May 24, 2010

Fear? WTF?

So I like hockey. In hockey, if a team gets their opponent's goalie rattled, people say that the other team got in the goalie's head. If the goalie has to be pulled and the backup goalie put in because the main goalie's giving up too many goals, they call that chasing the goalie, or just "chasing him."

On Saturday, Rev got in my head, and then she chased me.

I have no idea what she was all up about, but she decided that the dogs sleeping outside the arena door made that corner super-scary. She would spook a little, not go into the corner, get all tight, et cetera. MT wanted to have me work on a canter exercise over a crossrail, but I was having problems in the trot, much less a canter. Rev getting all spooky and "up" got me good and scared. I have no idea why -- but for some reason, I get scared when she spooks or threatens to. It doesn't make much sense, because every time but one that she's spooked, I've just gone with it. I fell once, right when I was getting back on track this winter, but every other time, I've stayed on and then gone on doing what we were doing to begin with. Why I should have been so scared this weekend, I have no idea.

So when MT asked me to pick up the canter and try the exercise in the canter, I had to say something. I felt like I was riding a spring that was getting more and more tightly wound -- and I was scared of what would happen when that potential energy became kinetic energy. And I was afraid that picking up the canter would trigger that explosion. So I just came out and said it: "Reveille's spooking at that corner, and I ... I'm afraid." MT said he was glad I'd told him, then told me to start circling in that corner, trying to school her out of her spookiness.

But -- she'd gotten to me by then. I ended up asking MT if he'd be willing to get on her and help me, because I didn't know what I needed or how to get there or anything. He did, and he schooled her hard. Much more aggressively than I could have, in the mindset I was in. Basically, she chased me like a goalie. Put the backup goalie in, I'm rattled. I was simultaneously incredibly grateful to MT for getting on her and terribly ashamed that I'd had to ask.

But in the end, after Rev jumped really well for him, MT told me that he'd much rather I tell him when I get scared like that than not say anything, get scareder and scareder, and then eventually fall off. Me falling doesn't help me at all, and it doesn't help Rev either. So -- if I get to the point where I'm completely ineffective because of fear, I should say something. I'm glad I did, but it was still not a good feeling.

Of course, I then had a cold knot of fear in my stomach for the rest of the day. I felt like I had to do SOMETHING to create order, to kind of discharge my neurosis of wanting to Do It Right, so I bought a plastic drawer unit and reorganized my tack locker. ;) I felt a lot better after doing something productive and successful.

So when I went back to ride on Sunday, I set up ground poles in a line similar to the exercise MT had asked me to do -- no jumping outside of lessons, otherwise I'd have worked the exact same exercise. Then I longed Rev in the scary corner until I was satisfied that she wouldn't be a nincompoop and until I felt confident in her. When I mounted up, we worked in that end of the arena until I felt confident in myself. Then we moved out to work in the whole arena, then worked the ground pole exercise I'd set up, both at the trot and at the canter. Focusing hard on my three-point seat and riding the rhythm I wanted, working hard at getting a steady rhythm into, during, and out of the poles.

And yknow ... everything went just fine. Nobody freaked out. The canter poles went brilliantly -- I sat my butt in the saddle, rode my rhythm and my line, and everything happened in stride.

Take THAT, little fear demon. I got this. :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

The promised pictures!

Pictures from last Sunday's Event Derby!

In the warmup arena. Good trot!

Circling the arena before entering at A. I love this trot and this expression on her face!

About to enter at A, at a nice energetic trot. Energy was the main thing I wanted out of this test, since it's been something we've been working on for a while -- energy and a good trot. I think I got it quite well.

Hey! Wake up, horse! We have a dressage test to ride here! :D

Good stretchy walk! She's stretching down well, and she's just shy of overtracking in the walk. We got a 7 on this movement -- it's even a coefficient movement!

Finished with dressage -- me: "Come on, smile for the camera!" Her: "Can we just go in and have carrots now?"

I love the alertness in this photo -- she wasn't entirely sure about the crowd on the course here, but we did fine with it. This was, I think, our first round, ground poles.

Again with the alertness. Her face sharpens up so much when she's alert -- she loses some of the Quarter Horse blockiness and picks up the warmblood refinement.

Another shot I just love of Rev's attitude. I love her neck in this one, too -- the work we've been doing on the longe line in side reins really shows. Even though it's just a ground pole, she gives it her attention.

Jump! Such a pretty little horse. :)

I'll get a picture of my ribbon collection tonight. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Well, work has been really busy, so it seems like I'm only getting to update every week or so. My abject apologies!

I do have a fun post planned about the Event Derby last weekend -- we entered our first jumping class, cross-rails, and we did great! I was so proud of my little horse. :) We have some things to work on, dressage-wise, and of course with the jumping, but I was still proud of her.

In the meantime, here's a very brief and small preview of the photos I'll be posting soon:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Long, but exciting! *

I am just unspeakably excited. :) Rev and I had two good lessons this weekend -- one good because we did well, one good because we learned something new and fun and did okay at it!

Saturday's flat lesson was really, really awesome. Finally, for once, we did as well in lessons with MT as we can do in practice! I was able to get her moving forward, and then push even a little more forward from there at MT's instruction. I was riding well, and my rein contact was good, and overall, it was an awesome ride. I was so pleased with her and myself. :) MT said it was the best he's seen me ride, which I could feel for myself too, so I couldn't do any of that self-deprecating stuff. If I can ride that well and if Rev can go that well in the Derby on Sunday, I can win the class. :) These things are won and lost in dressage, at low levels. Sometimes high levels, too.

After the lesson, I mentioned to MT that I'd signed up for the crossrails class in next weekend's Derby and asked if that was okay with him. He asked if I'd trotted Rev over any crossrails yet, and I said, "Well, no. The rule is 'no jumping outside of lessons,' so I followed the rule." I wondered if the rule had changed or if I was supposed to assume it didn't apply to me -- that sort of thing had been known to get me in trouble as a kid, so I don't do it any more. :) If there's a rule, I assume it means me. Anyway, MT said, "Oh. Right, you're right. Good answer -- I didn't realize that was a trick question! Well, let's pop her over a crossrail. What are you doing tomorrow?"

So it was set -- jumping lesson for Sunday morning, woot! I resolved to not be nervous, because, well, I wasn't. Somehow the prospect of jumping Rev didn't and doesn't scare me at all. It might oughta, but ... it doesn't.

On Saturday, though, we'd put another horse in Rev's pasture, another mare. I was not in any way expecting Rev to act the way she did on Sunday morning -- usually, when she's been in with other horses, she left them with no problem. In her TN home, she lived with a mare and filly, and it was never a problem to take her out of the pasture away from the others. But Saturday morning, you'd have thought I'd taken her away from her mother! She cried and hollered and danced around, all antsy because she'd left the other mare. 0.o I mean, I know this happens to other horses, but it's the first time it's ever happened with Rev. So after she squirreled around in the crossties, I ended up just throwing her on the longe line in her halter, just to get her attention. Run around for a few minutes, then start lots of quick transitions. Get a handle on her brain.

That worked, so I got her tacked up. Bridling her turned out to be a PITA, but I prevailed. And back on the longe line she went, all tacked up. I finally got most of her brain engaged, and got mounted up.

MT started us with some basic flatwork, which was nowhere near as good as it had been the day before. But I prevailed, mostly. Enough to move on to working the two-point.

Two things: One, if there were ever an argument for losing weight, two-point is it. I shouldn't have to support so much damn weight, and neither should Rev.

Two, MT teaches a very different style/approach than I learned as a kid and used as a teenager. He teaches eventing, and I learned hunt seat equitation. Apples and oranges. Not quite apples and moon rocks, but different nonetheless. In hunt seat equitation, my feet were much farther back than MT was having me put them. It's much more about angles, the way MT teaches it, than it ever was before. And every time we jumped, he'd talk about the foot/leg position and how much more secure it was on the back side of the jump.

One thing I did find a use for that I'd learned from Stormy, the sainted Hackney-Arab jumper I rode for several years, was the use of the three-point seat when approaching fences. I had to use it to slow Stormy down, but with Rev, I kind of instinctively used it on our last jump of the lesson, because I needed to ride her forward.

I don't think I consciously thought about three-point, just that she didn't have enough forward to be able to jump well, even over a small crossrail. So I rode her forward. And I'm damned if that wasn't our best effort of the day. MT said she gave me a good, cute jump, and it was the only one where I landed with her, and we cantered off calmly, rather than a step of canter and then trot. Every other time, I'd been a little rigid on the landing and not moving with her.

So overall, I learned a lot -- my takeaways from this are "practice two-point in the trot and canter" and "practice trot tempo and canter transitions in your jumping saddle." I can do that. :)

But most of all? I had a great time. :) I totally want to go do more! *dances happily* Honestly, I've been waiting for this since the day I bought Reveille. I had a strong hunch that she'd be a good jumper, and MT agrees with me that she will. She seemed to really enjoy it, too! She didn't quail, even a little bit. And neither did I. *beam* There was no hesitation (at least, none that wasn't caused by me not getting her forward enough on the approach to the jump). MT said that going in the crossrails class is definitely doable, and we'll have a clinic with him on Saturday, too.

I think this is the beginning of a beautiful thing. *SQUEEEEEEEEE!*

* Obligatory: That's what SHE said!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Much better.

I feel muuuuch better after getting out to the barn and working with Rev. Seriously, for all that she can be difficult sometimes, Reveille really grounds me and makes everything else in my life worth it.

After I put her back in her pasture and turned around to walk away, I could just feel her watching me walk away, feel her thinking 'but wait! we're not done yet!'. So I turned around, and indeed she was standing there, ears all the way forward, neck over the fence. How could I resist? So I spent another 20 minutes or so, just scratching on her and petting her. She loves being scratched under the jaw, especially in shedding season, so she got a good skritching. She's not really a very cuddly horse very often, so it's nice when she's in the mood to be loved on. Her "ooooh yes scratch there" face cracks me up so hard! Not to put too fine a point on it, she doesn't have a particularly dainty or fine-boned head. The thing has its own satellites. :) (Too much brain to jam into a small head, I guess.) So when she does the nose/lip thing and stretches her head out straight, her neck pretty much doubles in length. Heh! Too funny.

Anyway, was good to work her a little and just be at the barn. I talked to TW for a while, too, which was nice -- got caught up on some Rolex talk, talk about clinicians coming to town and whether I'd get anything out of their clinics, and talking about my girl dog, who's been sick. Just nice to touch base, get caught up. Kind of bring some normalcy back to life, if that makes any sense.

Anyway. Test of Choice night for May has been cancelled due to weather -- totally understandable, given the crap we've had falling from the sky lately! I'll have T1 spruced up and improved for the next ToC, and I'll probably run Intro B as well. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm dead bored with Intro! When I started, I never in a million years thought I'd get to a point where I could present a canter test. I mean, I knew it was the idea and the goal, but ... it seemed impossible. Now I'm thinking I will get T1 above 60 this year, and possibly even ride T2 a time or two. Possibly. Things are progressing!

Looking forward to riding tonight and this weekend. :) I'm feeling pretty sanguine about this whole endeavor today.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Updating! (edited to explain blog title)

So it's probably going to be exceedingly windy tonight, gusting up to 40-45 miles an hour. It's likely that the Test of Choice night is going to be cancelled or rescheduled -- which is both good and bad for me. Good, because I could, in theory, get Training 1 and Intro A ready to go again for the reschedule date. In theory. Bad, because I learn so much from scribing. I learn what judges look for, both good and bad, and it makes it much easier to turn in better tests when I ride.

So we'll see. No matter what, I'll be at the barn tonight and ride. I can't not, yknow?

Blog title: After my boyfriend mentioned the concept of nana korobi, yo oki to me, I knew I had found the right title for my blog, if not my entire life. The phrase translates from the Japanese as "Seven times fall, eight rise." It's both inspirational -- keep going, until you've gotten up one more time than you've fallen -- and an excellent description of my riding life. A ride didn't work right today? Try again tomorrow. Failed at doing something? Try again tomorrow. Fell off? Get back on. Just. Keep. Trying. Which has been, so far, the story of me and Rev. I've stuck with her when most people wouldn't. Some days, that's less about my perseverance and more about my inability to sell her, but more days than most - and especially lately - it's just me deciding to be patient and hang in there. Nana korobi, yo oki.

In other news, last week I'd ordered the royal blue galloping boots and the royal blue saddlepad I've been coveting from Dover. I got the shipping notice yesterday. I also got, in my snail mail, a Dover catalog with sale prices on a lot of things -- including the saddlepad I ordered. It'd gone down from $17.90 to $9.99. Thinking that I had nothing to lose by calling, I called Dover's customer service line and asked the nice representative if they might be able to refund me the difference. The representative said she'd be happy to do it. :)

Thank you, Dover! This is one of the reasons I like Dover Saddlery -- in addition to nice customer service, they often have excellent prices on accessories like this, and they have a great selection. (I have to note that I found a better price on my Mountain Horse High Rider II boots from a different site, but for things like horse boots and saddlepads, I always go with Dover.)

In other, OTHER news, I wholeheartedly recommend APF Pro, from Auburn Labs. Good for horses, dogs, and people. Reveille doesn't need it, but the high-level horses at the barn take it, and I take it. :) Good stuff.

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled life -- and me back to mine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Ack! I haven't had time to blog lately! I'll give a quick update, and then I promise a much longer entry tomorrow or Thursday.

* This blog will be renamed shortly. :)

* I've figured out exactly what MT means when he says that Rev responds best to canter aids given almost entirely with the inside seatbone.

* I'm skipping tomorrow's Test of Choice night; I'd been sick Monday and Tuesday of last week, so I had to work late Wednesday through Friday, then work on Saturday and Sunday to make up for the time I missed. So there's no chance of turning in a reasonable test, even if there weren't going to be huge winds and cold tomorrow.

* Nonetheless, the practices I'd had while MT, TW, and TD were in Kentucky at Rolex were great. I feel like I learned a lot while they were gone.

* Entered the Event Derby ... at the cross-rail level. Hopefully I can go through with this plan. :)

* I miss my horse. Can't wait until tomorrow, when I'll get to scribe the ToC night, and then ride afterward. :)