Lainey Ashker Clinic 4.1.17 – Day 1

I left the clinic on Sunday feeling rather defeated. It wasn’t so much like I felt Gus and I were over faced because I don’t think we were. The clinic, which focused more on course work than grids this time, was hard, especially for the greener horses, but wasn’t unfair. The exercises were very technical and while I left Saturday’s ride thinking that things had gone pretty well (though I had a lot to work on); I got on Sunday morning feeling anything but confident and that showed when we had a refusal over a little 18 inch oxer as our very first attempt.

You can probably imagine the mortification I felt at that point.

Before I get too far into this, I want to mention that I still think Lainey Ashker is amazing and she is still on my list of will-ride-with-any-chance-I-get trainers. In fact, this clinic cemented that even further because she got me out of several sticky situations where I was ready to give up. Lainey is demanding but not in a way that feels overwhelming but rather in a way that makes you feel like you can do this. She’s supportive but won’t let you give up on yourself. I like that.

It never hurts that Lainey likes thoroughbreds, loves Gus, and, when she was shown a video of Dandy, lamented that he wasn’t in her barn. (Me too!)

Saturday of the clinic started off really positive with a grid. I have worked all winter with grids and I’m feeling pretty good about the. So good in fact that I only had to do the grid twice before Lainey told me I was done. I pulled up in the center feeling pretty amazing.

The rest of that day was all focused on mini courses. I didn’t find the first couple of sections (several outside lines) particularly horrible in terms of height or what they were asking. I didn’t ride them particularly well the first time but I probably could have made it around a course had I been forced too. The next section was a diagonal line where we had to actually jump the fences at an angle. I know this was Hillary’s least favorite part of the day but I didn’t mind it at all. Jumping at an angle is one my trainer’s favorite ways to torment me.

Then we added in a small cross rail to a Liverpool bounce out over a skinny combo off a tight and short turn and that’s where things fell apart for Gus and I. The first issue was just getting over the Liverpool as Gus was having none of it. I wasn’t completely surprised by this but was slightly frustrated. Once we got over that, I just couldn’t seem to keep him in front of my leg enough to get over the skinny chevron gate. It was a disaster. At one point, Gus put his foot through it and dragged it off the standards.

That was the first time in a while that I felt numb and completely frozen. I didn’t know how to get him over that because I didn’t know how to get myself over it. It was all I could do to point Gus at that first cross rail again. It didn’t help knowing that it was my fault he had stuck his leg through the dang gate either. If I had just sat back and kept my leg on he would have gone over. Instead I leaned into the fence and halfway through, Gus said “nope, not happening.”

And that’s where Lainey earned every penny of the clinic fee. Most trainers probably would have removed the Liverpool and let me jump the chevron skinny without it a few times or remove the skinny and let me just go through the Liverpool a few times. Lainey knew we could do the bounce as it was and that we just needed a little bit of grit to get up there and do it. And you know what? We did. It was ugly as sin the first few times. I was left behind and Gus was just flat out deer hopping over the dang thing. But by the end, it looked semi elegant.

It was such a relief to be able to work through that issue. It was a hard question but those are the types of things that I need to be working on if we want to make a move up instead of staying safe at beginner novice all year. So I left that clinic feeling challenged and encouraged that Gus and I were on the right track.

Somehow, over the course of that night, that encouragement gave way to a sickly feeling of dread in my stomach Sunday morning. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to find that amazing confidence I had been feeling yesterday and I slowly set myself up for a crash and burn

17 thoughts on “Lainey Ashker Clinic 4.1.17 – Day 1

  1. nice job working through the nerves and stickiness to make a very challenging and technical exercise happen!! that looks way more challenging than anything you’ll see at novice! sorry to hear the feeling didn’t last through sunday tho. ugh. horses are so hard sometimes, esp that damn confidence game…

    1. That is so true! And that does make me feel better. I logically knew that the question, if not the height, was much more difficult then anything I’ll see for a while but it can be so hard to remember that in the moment.

  2. I know how that feels, I felt that when I rode with Hawley last year. Saturday was great — we didn’t do everything perfectly, but we did it, and anything that went a little funny Hawley got us through and doing it confidently. And then on Sunday I just… didn’t show up. I psyched myself out about some tires as soon as I saw them and then let that really, really affect my ride. It is an awful feeling, the worst part about it being that it’s hard to change and identify! I struggled a lot at the end of that day, but I have done much better with similar situations since then.

    (PS I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the text in this comment form is TINY — like point 6, compared to the rest of the text on this page)

  3. Yeah girl! Been in that place. I love that about Lainey, she isn’t afraid of opening a can of worms. So what if it’s ugly at first?

  4. That’s my signature move- doing a day at the clinic and being successful but by the next morning I’m completely overwhelmed and second guessing myself.

  5. I am glad y’all got to work through some things and had the necessary support for it. Everyone goes through that. Sad to hear that it was not the clinic experience you were hoping for, but you both still learned a lot and know what you need to work on in the future. Still a good experience I would say.

    1. Oh definitely! And I don’t really want to spend all that money just to be told I’m amazing. Well… I kinda do, lol.

      1. haha I hear that, but those moments are great when you have had to work through what y’all did. Makes it all the more worth it. That is a good thing about riding with the same people. They can see your progress.

  6. It is always nice to know that you are amazing, but the reality is that everyone has the not pretty times that have to be worked through whether they admit it or not!

  7. Mental strength with horses can be so tough. I find myself on a roller coaster sometimes on being super confident and ready to challenge myself to feeling like a complete failure even if I actually did perform well.

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