Friday, November 6, 2009

My Lesson on Paddy in Stadium: Cowboy Up!

I came to the stadium ring with high hopes, and while we didn’t exactly crash and burn, we had a rather humbling beginning.

Part of that is my own doing, and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is that causes my anxiety. Is it a desire to please? A fear of failure? And to whom am I responsible: the clinicians, my coaches, my horse, my sport, myself?? Not to get all psycho-babble on y’all, but I do think I have this “gotta please everyone” thing going on. I wish I could forget about it!

Cathy kept encouraging me to “study the first rail”, reminiscent of Jimmy Wofford’s admonition to look at the first rail until it disappears between your horse’s ears. I realize I’m STILL looking down far too often…and to compensate, then I look too far up. It’s like looking to where you’re going in dressage rather than looking between the horse’s ears. So many things to remember in so many different contexts!

When I tried to make Paddy work, he would throw his head up. That was frustrating for me, and I think I over-reacted. Karen said he’ll stop when he realizes I have an elastic connection. Let’s hope so!

Once again, I jumped ahead (esp. in trot—I HATE jumping at the trot!). I was encouraged to let the horse’s thrust bend my hip—but “the hip bends first, THEN the hand follows”. That’s important, I think, because I tend to throw my hand when I jump. I need to think about that, then learn to FEEL it.

I’m also doing that standing on my toes thing again—Karen suggested I think about sinking my heels to the point that the soles of my boots faced the jump. I’m trying….

I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t getting Paddy in front of my leg—when we worked on cantering the related distances (first we trotted in, stopped; then trotted in, trotted out, stopped; then we trotted in, cantered out, and stopped; then we cantered in, cantered out, and stopped, this time trying to get more strides—more EVEN strides—between jumps). I could get one distance, but because he was behind my leg, I couldn’t contain the energy to adjust him. Karen could tell I was getting more and more frustrated; she kept saying “Enjoy the journey!”

Finally Karen stopped me and said “I want you to make him GO down that long side—pretend you’re a kid! Scream, yell, kick!”

Well, it worked. I think I scared Karen because I REALLY got going!

Next, she said, “do it again, but this time just lean forward, give with your elbows, and allow”. Once again, Paddy rose to the occasion, and we finally got going.

Once he got going, I could bring him back, and we could actually adjust our distances. What a great feeling! I’m still not in as much control of it as I’d like to be, but it felt GREAT.

After the related distances, we did some “S-curves”, then we did a course. I was a bit worried that I’d “lose” the great energy we’d gotten, but we didn’t; we had a great course. “Look at you!” Karen said at the end. My, did that feel good.

I have to remember NOT to stop my hip before the jump, to keep my legs at the girth, heels down, and the balls of my feet in the stirrup—she said my feet were too deep. Also, I tend to throw my reins away over the jump (esp. if I jump ahead). WORK ON THAT!

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