Faking Confidence

I’ve written a lot about my own struggles with confidence on this blog and you all have indulged me by reading and being so supporting each time I do. It has been a long, laborious process. But you know, I think I’ve finally found that sweet spot where I have my confidence but still have a healthy respect for the type of fences I’m asking Gus to go over. They do not fall down so making sure we’re both ready for the next  step is important.

Jump School @ Ashland Farm 3.18.17

New Trainer, also known as LT, told me after our XC schooling the other week that “confident riders are made when they know their horse can move up to a spot and get them out of a tough situation but a confident horse is made from the rider.” Or something like that. I was so high on the great ride that I wasn’t completely listening and I may be paraphrasing a bit, but I get her point.  Because the really miraculous thing is I’m not the only one who is feeling confident and ready to tackle the next step, Gus is too. And I did that.

Cross Country @ Poplar Place Farm 2.11.17

I don’t know if you all remember, but the first time I asked Gus to go over a little cross rail, it was a disaster. Not only did Gus not know where to put his feet (not surprising) there was a complete lack of understanding on why the heck he would be asked to go over a pole and I was generally afraid that he didn’t like it. But I kept on it. I lunged him over poles time and time again. I build a jump chute hoping that maybe if he had some freedom to jump without me on his back it would help (it did not… it was a disaster). And mostly I just kept asking him to go over little jumps anytime the jumps were already set at 12-18 inches. Eventually Gus got the idea and would willing go over the fence as long as I was riding confidently.

Jump School 8.22.15

Only the problem was that I didn’t feel very confident. Gus was not Dandy, which is both good and bad. I know, without a doubt, that Dandy will go over any fence he’s pointed at as long as his rider doesn’t get in his way. Gus does not have that natural confidence. He wasn’t born understanding this like Dandy. At the same time, I stopped trusting Dandy a long time ago so it doesn’t matter whether or not he can jump the moon, he’ll never do it with me on board. But Gus doesn’t know about all that history and he needed me to tell him that jumping was all right. That jumping might even be fun.

Jump School 11.26.15

That’s hard to do when you’re not even sure that jumping is fun. But I had a memory of it being fun and I had a memory of being confident. So I dug down for that memory and held on to it as I faced those fences. Then somehow, at some point, that confidence stopped being just a memory and started being real. And while that was happening for me, Gus found his own confidence.

It’s not over. Training fences still look huge, not every Novice fence is inviting, and I still have to swallow down a little moment of panic when LT goes to move the jump cups up. But I have confidence in Gus and, I think, he has confidence in me now too.

TLDR: Awesome Weekend

I have written and rewritten this post about a hundred times. Actually, I don’t think that’s physically possible in the few days I’ve had but it certainly feels like a hundred times. The words just won’t come out. I finally decided it was because this clinic was so absolutely amazing and I had so much fun that it just seems kind of like a letdown to try to describe it all to you. So I won’t really bother.

Let’s sum up:

1)      Gus had so much sass being at Ashland. This may be partially totally because he had been off for over two weeks (colic, extreme cold temps, work, me being sick). On Saturday I was also having major Dandy flashbacks but did a good job of working myself out of it and keeping on with Gus. We ended up having a great ride.

Sunday for XC, I was just annoyed with the shenanigans so I took advantage of the clinic being run by my trainer and asked her to get on him. She did and took him around super big scary training fences and it was awesome. My horse is awesome.

2)      Ashland is fucking beautiful and almost the most perfect place on earth. I won’t even apologize for the swearing. I want to live there. It’s almost exactly what I would build if I could do anything I wanted.

3)      If you didn’t read it up in point 1, Gus is awesome. Also, I am awesome because (with the help of New Trainer), I DID THIS! Gus has been completely my work and, after Dandy, I didn’t think I was a very good rider. But I am. Or at least good enough.

4)      After being out on the XC, doing all sorts of advanced work over little fences and riding over novice fences that looked normal, I am so ready for FENCE. 

Also, I let my trainer know that I did want to point toward Novice for the end of the season. It’s something she’s been hinting at for a while but, while I am totally fine with all the dressage, XC was still scaring me. Not any more. I feel so confident and ready to start jumping those novice fences. Some are still a little frightening to me but after this weekend I know I have a horse who can move up and take it.

Coming Back

I can’t believe what a great time I had this weekend at Ashland doing a jump camp with my trainer. All the fun of being at a show but none of the stress. The only downside of the whole thing was knowing I had to go back to work today. 

I’m in the middle of a horse show hangover and work anxiety right now, which is not fun, so no write up today. I’ll just leave you with a few pictures and be back tomorrow. Hopefully with less weight on my shoulders.  

Review: Ovation Aqua-X Breeches

When I read Amanda’s glowing review of the Ovation Aqua-X knee patch breeches, I randomly decided to purchase a pair. I really didn’t have a need to, I have plenty of schooling quality breeches even if they aren’t very good breeches and I would like to get rid of them (wait, that’s a reason, right?). So I found a Riding Warehouse coupon and placed my order for a pair of full seats and knee patch.

They came the Thursday before the Poplar schooling show and, since they were so cute on and pretty comfy, I decided to wear them on that Friday. I wore them ALL DAY. No joke. I woke up and was on my way out to the barn around 8:00 am. I hooked up my trailer. I packed up hay and tack and shavings. I loaded Gus. I drove three hours to Poplar. I set up my stall. I set up my camping space. And all the while I felt like I was wearing the most comfortable broken in jeans. But better. And I absolutely loved being able to go from walking around to riding to working without worrying about what I was wearing.

This was also a good indicator of just how well they will hold up which so far is so good. I haven’t had any issues with stitching and they look like brand new after coming out of the wash.

The Ovation Aqua –X have all the little features that I require in my breeches these days like wide belt loops, euroseat, and sock bottoms (death to Velcro!) and I love the nylon/lycra blend material. While I haven’t had a chance to wear these in the middle of a brutal Atlanta summer, so far they do seem to keep me cooler than anything else I’ve used.

The knee patch breeches have the silicone knee patches and I wasn’t sure how I felt about them at first. They are very shiny and I was worried that they would get scratched or ruined easily. They have not and I’ve come around to liking them. The full seats have your standard synthetic seat.

Long story short, I am in love with these breeches. On more than one occasion I have come home from the barn and just lounged away the rest of the evening in them. I want a pair in every single color and I want Ovation to make more colors. I would be thrilled if they came out with a white/gray option in the full seats (or knee patch!)… Ovation… if you see this… hint hint!

You can find these breeches at Riding Warehouse for $116.95 for both the full seats and the knee patches. If  you end up trying them, let me know what  you think! 

Not My Idea of a Good Time

I have a confession to make. I absolutely deplore when we move the clocks forward. Like hate it with every fiber of my being. I do not care that the day stays lighter  longer. The dark mornings and adjusting to a new sleep patterns leave me feeling like I’m one bad email away from a total meltdown. 

Plus, it’s not like I need it to be lighter at night right now. I get off work at 3:30 and that gives me plenty of time to ride without turning the lights on. I like when it’s light when I drive to work, puts me in a good mood. Makes me feel like in getting up at a normal time instead of the asscrack of dawn. 

So between that, work, and the cold front that has moved in. I am feeling very cranky. I’m probably the only Equestrian blogger who wishes the clocks would be put back!