Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rhythm falls WHERE on the training scale?

Oh yeah, it's totally at the BOTTOM OF THE BLOODY PYRAMID. Priority numero uno.

For christ's sake....

I rode Danny last night and we had a lovely warm up and he was in front of my leg and feeling relatively supple and the whole nine yards. Then I moved to riding the full 'dressage' court we have set up in the middle of our arena (Like 16 meters by 34 meters. It's wonky.) For some things, this 'court' is nice to have. For most anything functional, it's a huge pain. I digress.

I'm trotting along, focusing on the corners and the straightness down the long sides, and then I go to canter. We pick up a nice rhythm, he moves through the short side pretty nicely, then all of a sudden he races down the long side, bulging to the inside and seriously considered swapping leads. We're back to the other short side. And he slows way down to a nice, normal, balanced canter.

I don't even. What? How long has he done this?

And then my thinking cap goes on. He's been doing this to my poor kids for about a month and I just haven't worked on it at all because the BN dressage test doesn't ask for a full side of cantering, so I've just been working on the transition into the canter.

Oi vey. So I remind him what inside leg means and I get him calm down both long sides of the dressage court and I school this in both directions and I get him a little more straight and then even a bit more and I ask him to sit behind so he can carry himself better and then we walk for a while because he's SUPER sweaty after thirty minutes of trot/canter dressage work. Poor pony really needs to be clipped.

When we go to jump a bit, my heart starts racing and I can feel my legs freezing. I'm sorry, what? I've been jumping danny for a year now. We approach the jump again, he starts to drift, and I barely manage to close that rein to make him go over the jump.

My heart was pounding. I was having a hard time breathing.

I haven't fallen off of Danny. I haven't fallen while jumping in a long time.

'Whatever,' I say to myself. 'Just work through it like you would with a student.'

The jump stayed at 2', and I approached in a trot. I reminded myself to keep my heels down, my eyes up, and my back straight. I placed my hands on his neck, and kept the reins just short enough to make him jump. I focused on my breathing. I trotted him in, and he just hopped over it and cantered away. I did this very pony-club-style approached a few times, then raised the rail 6". And repeated. I reminded myself to take deep breaths, I kept my eyes firmly focused above the jump, and I kept my leg steady by really sinking into my heels.

Then I knocked the jump up a bit higher and repeated the whole process of calming myself down through some pretty focused self-talk. We canter in, and I feel Danny sort of back off. I can hear my trainer-voice echoing through my head, "PUT SOME LEG ON HIM!" and so I ever so slightly close my lower leg and he moves forward and jumps it pretty easily. I keep breathing.

When we finished off he was feeling really good, and I wasn't freaked out over jumping him. He felt 100% sound, so it wasn't like that was a concern. He was sound when I pulled him out today.

I honestly couldn't tell you what was going on. But I'm glad I was patient with myself and equally glad I could coach my way through it.

'I'm a scary Danny, apparently.'

Has anyone else ever experienced that? Completely random choking, even on a familiar horse? Anyone have any ideas what caused it? I'm going to jump again tonight and see if it's still a problem.


  1. um yes. you have just described my life lol. work through it - do not relent!!! you don't want that to be the norm!!! (ask me how i know lol) i'm super impressed that you kept bumping up the height too - maybe that's what i need to do (esp since i *know* the horse is fine, like you said)...

    1. Well a big part of bumping it up and up for me was that I've spent years jumping at 3'3"-3'6" pretty regularly without a problem. I know I'm capable of a 3' fence... I didn't want to allow myself the habit of being alarmed, not even once! I think it can help to jump something big a few times - if you think you'll interfere with the horse just sit in your half-seat and totally ride like a hunter. Then when you go back to your normal schooling height it's really no big deal because you were just staring at a gigantic fence.

  2. I just had that happen again for a lesson a couple of weeks ago...after months without a worry, I was so uptight I thought I was going to be sick, even though I rode the day before and was fine and my ride to the arena was totally normal. Then 15 minutes later it was all good again! So strange, I wonder if our brains pick up weird little details, like "ohhh the last time you had a fall the weather was exactly so and that same truck drove by a minute before, and horsey flicked his ear just like that" - meanwhile rational brain makes no such associations and is left feeling a bit ambushed when the anxiety starts!

    1. You've described it perfectly. Rational brain felt SO left behind and confused!