Confidence Riding Alone

Due to a few expensive bills, I’ve had to cut back on my lessons. I find it ironic that I had to buy stone dust to practice in my arena, and since I bought stone dust, I can’t afford to ride at lessons. I blew my horsing budget with only two bills. Let this be a warning to everyone considering buying a farm.

Now I’ve taken a more laid back approach to riding. I won’t be doing any fancy shows this year, but I can still work on myself, and maybe go to some smaller events by myself. This means I actually need to be able to ride when my trainer isn’t around.

Oh sure, I can do flat stuff okay with a trainer. I’m feeling pretty secure there. But what I really want to do is jump. I’m not going to wait around until I can resume lessons to jump again. I want to jump noooooow.

When I jump with my trainer, she says, “Jump this,” and I nod, and go jump it, regardless of what it is. She does the thinking for this team. If she says I can do it, I believe her, and off I go to jump the gymnastic with the 2’9″ jump, or the 2’6″ line, or whatever. There are no questions asked. The jumps even look small, and I don’t even notice/care about them.

I balked at doing a show more than 18 inches, but she said, "It goes up, OR ELSE." So I did 2'3".
I balked at doing a show more than 18 inches, but she said, “It goes up, OR ELSE.” So I did 2’3″.

But when she’s not around…

This jump was about 6 inches high, and we still messed it up.
This jump was about 6 inches high, and we still messed it up.

I’m going to make myself a little bit vulnerable here, and say that I have severe doubts riding alone, and I freeze up more than just a little bit. I like someone monitoring my every move and telling me I’m doing okay.

18 inch vertical, or HORSE DEATH TRAP?!
18 inch vertical, or HORSE DEATH TRAP?!

I blame my lack of confidence on other things. Maybe if I had a huge fenced in arena with nice footing, I would be more confident. There’s definitely a bit of unease because Berry has random moments where she explodes for really random reasons. Not often, but usually when she’s feeling a bit fresh she likes to play.

“OH MY GAWD, A HORSE IS ROLLING OVER THERE!! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!” Kudos to D’Arcy, she basically told Berry, “Nope, knock it off, there’s a jump and you’re doing it.”

But she’s not a bad horse, and her fits are usually nothing to write home about. Except when I have hilarious pictures of Berry looking like a camel. (My favorite photos of my horses are when they look ridiculous.)

Last night I was riding her, and she kept exploding over a jump facing the barn. Naughty girl! But I was actually feeling okay about it, because I made a decision. I’m want to ride, and I’m going to work through this. I’ve made excuses before as to why I couldn’t ride… it used to be because I didn’t have an arena. Then I built an arena. Then the arena wasn’t level enough, and there was no fence, and it wasn’t big enough, and I could only ride at my trainers. I’m full of excuses as to why I can’t do this.

But I can’t just ride when everything is perfect. I have to be able to adjust to conditions, or to the horse. Riding isn’t just being a passive passenger (related words?!), it’s being the active commander of the vessel! (Horses can be a type of vessel, I’ve decided).

So she’d do a little bolt after the jump, and in the tiniest part of the arena, I’d bring her back, and make her canter in circles until she calmed down, and then we’d go right back and do the jump again. And whatdaknow, I got her popping calmly over it. You won’t get the best of me horse!

Also, part of my strategy is knowing that in the right/confident hands, Berry can perform:

Berry has an obsession with the long spot, but otherwise, the right hands prove you are capable, horse! You can't fool me!
Berry has an obsession with the long spot, but otherwise, the right hands prove you are capable, horse! You can’t fool me!

Part of the reason I have trouble at home is because I literally do not know what to do. Basically, I have to use my own brain to figure out exactly what to do. I like to use my trainer’s brain, it’s so much easier. She sets up the courses, she has a lesson plan, she knows what the next step is. She’ll give me homework exercises, and she knows if I didn’t do them. When I don’t have her guidance, I basically flop about.

"Let's see... I could trot some more... or maybe walk around some more... a spin move would really liven things up."
“Let’s see… I could trot some more… or maybe walk around some more… a spin move would really liven things up.”

It’s time for self motivation. I’m planning to go to a super cheap, little open show in August by myself. I signed up for basically everything that said “Open”, minus the western, so now I need to prep for it. There’s nothing like signing up accidentally for a 2’9″ hunter class to boost your motivation. (I’m nearly positive I will be scratching that, although… she’s jumping an oxer that size above!(except the pesky long spot)) But it really does boost the motivation. I already know what I need to work on, I was just kind of putting it off. No more of that! Time to comfirm those lead changes, get her closer to the base, stop dropping her at the base (How many times until I learn dropping her will encourage her to take the long spot!?), practice and hold that 2-point, limber up, get her fitness level up…etc…

I’m feeling pretty motivated right now. Other than just working on our own selves, since I won’t have a trainer to give me insight on the course, I’ll be doing my own research in what to look for, and how to walk a course. Things I should probably already know anyway.

I’ll also be throwing in a lesson, and hopefully will impress my trainer with all my practice! (impressing trainers should always be of high importance!)

Anyone else prepping/motivating on their own?

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    1. oh jeez, maybe once I’m feeling better about my time management! I don’t think I can manage all those tack changes!
      Plus western is earlier in the day, she’ll be way to fresh for that type of riding!

  1. This is exactly how I feel. Ive finally gotten to a better point about being able to school on my own just from reading other peoples blogs on what they do. Have faith and trust yourself!

  2. YESYESYESLOVETHIS!!!!! I’ve always thought you do a fantastic job with Berry clearly (I luff her) but I’m super on board the practice train. I humbly volunteer to come be jump crew.

    1. Thank you so much! For both the compliment and the volunteering… I think we’re going to have to plan something!

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