Let’s Discuss: Reality versus Expectation

I have to admit, where I am now is not where I imagined myself to be a year ago, or even six months ago.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. To be perfectly blunt, there are upsides to being horseless (in terms of ownership) for 5 out of the last 12 months. The obvious is that money is a lot easier to save. The second benefit being that it makes it easier to spend time with the SO, because owning no horse means less lessons, less shows, less unexpected vet bills, etc. (though one of those may change)

And yet… in many ways I saw myself months into a relationship at this point. Not planning a wedding per se, but the equestrian equivalent of being at that point where he’s met the parents. Or stayed the night, netflixed and chilled, hell, I don’t know what words the youngins use to describe it but I think you guys get the gist.

I figured I would be knee deep in planning a show schedule, counting down days until the next lesson, memorizing tests and squirming over whether or not I was going to have one of my dumb blonde moments at our next competition.

Equally surprising though, that’s where I am. I’m horseless in the ownership sense of the word, but somehow, despite my melancholy rants in protest of that fact, I am enjoying many of the benefits of horsemanship, and even better, competing again. DQ that I am, I have actually never competed in a recognized dressage show. But in just under a month, I’ll be going down centerline in search of my first recognized scores.

Isn’t life funny, the way things work out?
Are you where you expected to be 6 months ago? A year ago? What has surprised you, or what goals have you met that you set out for yourself? What are the pros/cons of where you are now, versus your original expectations?

Clinic Recap: USDF Instructor Workshop

Screenshots until I compile all the video

Saturday TC and I participated in a different kind of clinic as demo riders. The ‘clinic’ was actually an instructor workshop, as a learning opportunity for instructors working towards their USDF certification at that level. The format then, was a little different. I rode, and received feedback from the participant, who then received feedback from the clinician on her lesson plan, how she gave me direction, etc. Basically it ended up being a free lesson for us and an excellent chance to get us off-property in a relaxed (though effing cold and blustery) atmosphere. Win-win!

Once TC realized the horses in the giant outdoor mirrors weren’t going to eat him, he quickly relaxed into the work. Overall the crowd, clinician, and his owner (plus myself) were all thrilled with him and highly complimentary- everyone wanted to sneak him onto their trailers and take him home. Not bad for a barrel-racing bred paint pony. And I admit, I’m a little proud of him- the way his body has changed in the last couple months has been pretty impressive.

For me, I felt like they were less impressed. I had to engage my thick-skin mode and soak it up as a learning opportunity, since in order to educate the participant’s eye, all of my flaws were described in detail. The highlights include:

  • I sit left. Very left, all the time. How does this help the horse, who also is heavy on the left? None. It helps none.
  • I ride like a chicken- I need to keep my elbows close by my side
  • I collapse my right side
  • I balance myself on my stirrups
  • I brace my legs into downward transitions
  • I hollow my lower back
  • I lift my shoulders and get tense in my upper body
  • I need to open my hip flexors and get my legs back

In order to fix a couple of my offending traits, a few things were proposed:

  • Take my stirrups away – it’s hard to be crooked/lean without stirrups
  • Do lunge lessons
  • Get stronger in my core
  • Teach me the breathe
  • Get that sweet pony a different rider (just kidding)

I also left with some exercises to set us up for success- and mostly this was focused around working on getting that left shoulder lighter (which of course would help if I didn’t constantly try to grind it into the dirt with my weight). We need to work on turns-on-the-forehand, since his lack of education around this was a low point in our lesson. We can also do a tear-drop type exercise to pick up the left lead canter while he’s in my outside (right) rein. Similarly, leg yielding in and out by closing my outside leg and encouraging him again to weight the outside rein.

Overall, I came away with some new opinions about myself as a rider, but feel determined to improve from the experience. I learned what TC is like in a new environment, and am so pleased that he stepped up to the plate. It gives me confidence that more outings are definitely going to be in our future!

Staying in the Saddle

If you follow me on instagram, you may have noticed a couple appearances from a spotted creature that is most definitely not Fosterpants. TC is a sweet paint hony owned by the barn owner, who very sweetly is allowing me to ride him while I continue on my horse search.

Yesterday I was able to take my first jumping lesson in almost 6 months aboard TC, who is a green but willing guy over poles. We worked on finding the right tempo, bend, and inspiring lift from the point of take-off.

You can tell I have been out of the game, as my leg is not as solid as I’d like, my timing not great, and I’m carrying around more weight than I’d like to- all of which tests my balance more than necessary. However, TC and I are a great pair for the moment as we get fit together and hopefully learn a little while we are at it! I’m so, so grateful for the opportunity to ride this cool little guy and very much looking forward to future lessons and experiences with him 🙂