Hundreds of Hours vs. Ten Minutes

When you spend hundreds of hours to prepare for 10 minutes of competition those hundreds of hours have to be more important than the end result.

~ Bad Eventer

Tonight is my second to last jump lesson before our first BN competition in 3 (and a half) years. Nerves have been slowly creeping in and, along with them, purely irrational thoughts. (because the first rain KY has had in MONTHS definitely means that I have to have a full set of shoes, drilled and tapped for studs, put on my barefoot horse)

So I was sitting at work, doing work things stalking the Team Challenge entry list, and then I read the above quote. Ahead of all the last minute show prep, I figured I would look back on the last 6 months of prep and all that we have accomplished.

Basically, since April, May and I have been committed to our weekly jump lessons. If I am in the state, I am at the barn on Tuesday nights. There are some things that don’t make it into my blog posts a lot. Like all the times that I asked Mandy to make an oxer smaller or hesitated before a course.

The modifications that happened to ensure that I could give my horse the ride she deserved. Like making this small-ish oxer EVEN SMALLER to that I would ride forward to it.

img_1624
yes. I had to put the front rail of this oxer down.

In fact, this felt scary, and you can see me PLANTING my  hands on my neck strap because that was as much as I could get myself to do.

b8f0af1c-7550-40fa-8b05-0fb2542aed63

But I kept showing up. I kept doing my homework. I kept working to rewire my brain. A few months later, and we have the photo above.

And then, we had this;

img_2408

Then this….

img_2832

And then we had this:

img_2915

Fear and anxiety are still there. Every. Ride. But it gets better with every good ride I get under my belt. It gets better as Mandy keeps filling my toolbox and confidence bucket, ride after ride.

Would it be great to come home with some satin from Team Challenge? Hell yes. Does it really matter? No. Not really. What really matters are these videos above. The changes in my riding AND in my horse for the better. I can confidently say that the hours leading up to October 19th and 20th are worth WAY MORE to me than the results of this singular show.

Advertisements

The Horsey Part of the Equation

Last night, as I got changed at work for my lesson, I realized I was missing one of the most important part of my riding wardrobe… a sport bra. Damn… At first, I was debating what to do. Do I try to run home and get one, putting me half an hour behind schedule at LEAST? Do I ride without one?  Do I wrap my chest in a polo wrap?!

In the end, I realized that it was probably a great opportunity to give May another pro ride. While warm last night, there was a good breeze that kept it from being ungodly hot, and Mandy has set up a new course in the arena. On top of that, it has been more than two months since she has sat on my horse, and as we are looking at some bigger heights (for us), I wanted to get her opinion on where May’s confidence/ability really was.

img_2555

Lucky for me, Mandy was happy to hop on and put May through her paces. Of course… May first decided to try to run away as she was getting on… which was met with a reminder that, “unicorns don’t run away with their riders.” That got a quick correction, dismount, remount. And then… May proceeded to be pretty spicy warming up.

img_2552
Sassy Tail Swish

As a result, they started with an exercise that I have actually done quite a bit with May, but not in a while. They looped back and forth over a vertical with a placing pole 9.5′ behind the jump. The idea was two fold, get May to rock back over fences, and get her to take the cue on what lead to land on. The first few times, she tried to blow through the half half and required a solid halt and back, but then they got into a rhythm.

img_2553

They moved onto a full course, and honestly, May just popped around like she had jumped that course a thousand times. Was it perfect? No. Mandy puts a lot more pressure on May to be straight and adjustable (vs. me just trying to get out of the damn way). When May softened and listened, the jumps were smooth and easy. When she locked up like a donkey, the distances weren’t as nice.

img_2556
The left turn to this oxer apparently meant that outside aids and half halts meant nothing. 

Eventually, we pushed the yellow and black oxer up to closer to training height, as she was consistently nailing the bending five to that jump. Mandy wanted to give her a bit of confidence over a slightly bigger height without pushing her too much over a fence that they weren’t 100% agreeing on.

img_2554
You mean a left turn PAST the gate??

At the same time, Mandy also mentioned that she was going to jump the chevron. My response? “She’s never jumped the chevrons so… just steer.” Like… yes… my pro rider is definitely going to steer to the narrow chevron jump… Luckily, Mandy humors me and allows me to pretend like I am helpful.

img_2557
Mandy “You need to take off at the base.” May “Hold my beer”

The full video is below. Of course, the very first jump didn’t come up quite the way Mandy wanted it to. However, May still easily moved forward down the five line to the larger oxer and popped over it. The rest of the course went super well, so they just repeated the last line one more time, and they nailed it. You can see both courses at the bottom of this post, but I just had to share the last line they did.

Overall, I got some really good feedback from Mandy. She’s definitely not as finished as she needs to be to do a full course at Novice height. Mandy pointed out that she probably could get around, but it might rock her confidence, which is just so important. She said that, for right now, our goal should be to fix the straightness/balance issues at the height where May can “figure it out” when it goes wrong, and then move May up when she is a bit more reliable. However, it’s not that she has any difficulty with the Novice height, but we don’t want her to start feeling like her job is hard or not fun. I couldn’t agree more and am so thankful to have a pro that enjoys my “spicy dijon” pony.

Mid Year Update

I have been pushing at work to make mid-year reviews an actual thing, and it seems like those are happening. So in the spirit of taking my own advice, I wanted to do my own little mid-year check in! Back in January, I set some really frilly, really not S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Actually, instead of goals, I set up focus points, so let’s talk about them!

Fitness – This started in 2018 and has been a great addition to my regular routine. I am not setting a goal of “x” number of times in the gym each week. Instead, I just want to keep an emphasis on moving and listening to my body.

So I fell off the bandwagon basically from April – June. It is SO HARD to stay motivated to go to the gym when it is so nice out. However, I have gotten back into it over the past couple of weeks, and it is SO NICE to be back. I even found a class that makes me WANT to get up at 7AM on a Saturday. (Yes, below are some PASTY calves)

Blogging – I really LIKE blogging. I really want to get BETTER at blogging, AND AECs are in KY this year, so I even have a chance to see some of you. Blogging shall continue… but I would like to get some new media for you all.

So I am officially volunteering at AECs as a Dressage scribe on Thursday. Super excited to see anyone who ends up making the trip!

Friendships – 2018 was a weird year for me.  It marked 2 years of living in KY, and I have definitely felt the loss of some of my East Coast friends. I want to say yes to more things with my friends here in KY.

Some of my favorite moments of 2019 have come from saying yes to my KY friends more. Into the second half of the year, I am going to try to say yes to even more (including a book club because the nerd in me cannot resist that!)

img_2216
A last minute “yes” led to a lot of fun with my horse. 

Enjoying May – I want to ride and have fun with my horse. I want to try new things and be in the moment. I want to let the bad rides go easier and hold onto the good ones a bit longer. Heavy competing still won’t be in the budget this year, but hopefully, we can find some fun things to do within our budget.

How did I forget that heavy competing wouldn’t be in the budget this year? Hahaha apparently I lost sight of that one in April, when I made this insane post. Either way, we have had mostly amazing rides lately, so it has been REALLY easy to let the bad things go. Annnnnd we have managed to do some super fun things, like XC schooling at the KHP.

Honestly though, I wish I had my own trailer so that we could do more. Either way, we have a hunter pace on the agenda for August, and I am HOPING to get out at BN at SOME POINT this year, especially with May going so well.

Continue Improving our House – We have some projects that need finishing touches, and a lot of painting still to do. However, it has been a labor of love, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

Oh gosh… we spent all the money on getting the house painted (worth it). Doggy vet bills have also dug into that budget, so there is a lot that isn’t getting done at the moment. Honestly though, painting and redoing our laundry room have made a MASSIVE difference… now if only I could get the chandelier hung in the Dining room. 😉

I think its been a year of unexpected progress. May is going better than ever and refocusing on consistent lessons over showing opportunities has made the biggest difference. Fingers crossed that we can get out this fall and have some fun!