Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

It's just like flying a plane...

Alright so this week's lesson learned was how to use my ocd/workaholic tendencies to my advantage. hahaha.

So the background... I've been having real trouble finding time to ride my own horse - because, unfortunately, she's rather low priority, and by the time I get to her, I'm exhausted (I know every bo/bm out there is nodding along with this). So I had a lesson last week that was pretty disastrous, essentially because my horse had been ridden exactly once in the week preceding, 4 days earlier, and not by me. And she had no friends in the ring with her and it was early morning and she was feeling pretty good. Well let's just say control was ummmm negligible.

Now financially and time-wise, realistically my lessons should be put on hold for a while. But the thing is, I know way too many people who've burned out in this job precisely because they did exactly that. And stopped riding. And it became all work. And soon enough started resenting their clients. And so on and so forth. So knowing that the lessons are the only thing making sure I ride at least occasionally, I've kept them in. We'll use the business argument of improving my skills is good for business :) And the fact that I really enjoy them, which puts me in a good place to teach others also makes for a worthwhile expense. And it sometimes provides fodder for amusing blog posts :) Which is, of course, an entirely justifiable reason.

So lessons stay. But in order for the lessons to be useful, the horse has to be ridden essentially every day. And I wasn't about to have a repeat of last week's fiasco (my coach was very patient, but I'm not sure how long I'd get away with that...). But up till now, I either fill all day doing other stuff, or by the time I have time to ride, I'm too tired for her (I could hop on Apollo and have a good giggle, but Si I have to be a little more with it ;)

And here's how the ocd/workaholic comes into play. The work will get done, no matter how I'm feeling about the situation it's not in me to leave stalls undone or buckets filthy or arena unraked or horses not properly cared for. But it's easy enough for me to say "Sienna doesn't need to be ridden today, that can wait till tomorrow." So I changed the order around a bit. Horses get fed and turned-out and *then* Si gets ridden. Before stalls are done or barn is cleaned or anything else. Which, I have to say, is ridiculously hard to leave the barn a mess to go "play" when there's soooo much that has to be done. But now my pony's getting ridden every day and is much happier with life, and since I'm awake and energized when I do chores, they're actually getting done *faster*. Sweet bonus there! hahaha As in I'm done working at the same time every morning as I was before I started riding in the am, but now getting to ride too.

Don't know how long it'll last. And I definitely feel moderately guilty "sneaking out" to ride when the barn's not done yet. But for the moment it's a system that's working for me and both Sienna and I are happier with it sobeit -- just don't visit before noon and you'll never know the difference :)

That being said, lesson today and for the first time Sienna was her normal self alone in the ring. No spinniness or silliness. Only slightly higher than she is with friends (which is where I like her to be - w/ friends she's tooooo quiet :)

So my coach shows up and acknowledges that we're in a much better place than we were last week *g* Schools us on the flat for a bit (oh was Si ever not happy with him at one point *g* Let's just say there was lateral work, a wall, and a lunge whip involved...), however - the end of which my tiny totally downhill OTTB is floating around the ring uphill as though she were a giant wb. The most incredible trot I've ever had from her. Even coach had a slightly stunned look on his face. hahaha. We didn't get to canter in the flat portion of today's activities :) Quit while you're ahead type moment.

And then it's time to jump. And I explain the issues I've been dealing w/ this week (jumping out of a trot = hunter school pony. Jumping out of a canter = wingnut frantic ottb. Less of a good game). Ask if we can do some trot gymnastics or something (my theory being, she's approaching calmly in trot but then jumping fences out of a canter). "What, you just want to do easy stuff?" "Well, I want *her* to do easy stuff," I clarified... "you can make it as hard for me as you want. Wouldn't be the first time!" hahhaa so we had a good conversation about that as he's moving stuff around in decidedly not gymnastic fashion *sigh* - I should know better by now.

In the end we ended up working on the wheel of death with poles on each of the quarter tangent points. Trot and canter w/o losing our little brain. Now last summer Si was doing this with all jumps (including 2 bounces at one point) so this IS a huge step backwards. But last week cantering a 20m circle was a challenge, so compared to that it's good. N once a quiet rhythm was established, just playing w/ stride length and line (everywhere from 3-6 strides between the poles) etc. But mostly just reminding her over and over again that there's no need to run. So not terribly exciting and definitely not impressive, but really after the flat work what more do you want? >;-P

What amused me to no end today though were the analogies. I always feel that the stranger the analogy, the more likely it is to work. N I know I've thrown some rather unusual ones out there at people (squeaky toy?) in the past. N I've stolen some great ones from other clinicians too (love Pat's "sit on the couch and grab your glass of wine" for jumping position). So today was all about the mental aspects of riding. Riding is like playing cards - you have to work with the hand you're dealt, and each hand is different, but each hand can win. (this was as we were discussing Si's current mental state compared to where she was 6 mths ago. That horse is all about the mind - she can jump the moon, but keeping her brain between her ears is sometimes a challenge). Ok so fine, I can go along with that.

But the one that really made me laugh was when she's playing a little and he tells me to remember that riding is really like flying a plane. And I start to nod wisely like I entirely understand this, n then think wait a sec, I've never flown a plane. hahaha not that I wouldn't love to learn, but I kinda figure one exorbitantly expensive hobby is enough (haven't learned to sail for the same reason). So telling me to ride my horse the same way I would fly a plane is, well, somewhat less useful. N while I'm puzzling this all out and wondering if he's ever flown a plane, I get the second half of the statement -- "you may occasionally hit turbulence, and you need to ride it out and come through the other side safely and under control." Alright, I'll give him that one. But now every time for the next 6 mths or so that I'm sitting on a horse who decides to be a dork I'm going to be thinking "the captain has turned on the seatbelt sign. Please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts." But hey, it'll make me laugh, which'll make me relax, which'll make me ride better. Which is essentially the whole point of lessons to begin with. No matter how it's accomplished *g*

So now I'm off to fly a plane :)


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