Monday, December 28, 2015

When boring is where you need to be but you cant accept it

Its hard to remember the fact that my first jump lesson with Tillie was less then a year ago. It was in an indoor when we could only ride 1-2x a week with the frozen ground...I also have to remember that, in the not so distant past, most rides where more "exciting" then not, even when we only flatted. They were riddled with a rushing and non-rhythmic trot, exuberance in the canter and just general over the top sass. The trot rhythm and tempo being the hardest thing for us.

Still trying out this double rein thing.
I say this to remind myself because I often get stuck in where we are now and feel defeated that progress isn't happening - at least not fast enough in my mind. While I am feeling a bit less excited at the moment in both Tillie's progress and my own, I must admit that being here in the land of boring is O.K. 

Sure, we are not uphill enough yet...our canter isnt balanced all the time...she jumps too flat and from the shoulder, BUT at least at this point, we are doing these things with much less attitude and more understanding of our job and what is expected.
The only sass moment from our things are 100% boring ;) 
For Tillie, trying to get her to chill the fuck out and be boring has seemed to be my number one objective all along. It has caused me to ride very defensively and Tillie to get angry which starts a viscous cycle. I watch some of my videos and tear us both to shreds and hone in on every last bit of feedback we get to the point of agonizing over it. NOT GOOD and it really isnt helping me by doing this.

What I am currently agonizing over, yet again, is her jumping form over fences and her general way of going which has the tendency to be downhill. We had our weekly jump lesson with P and she remarked how quiet Tillie looked, but she was still jumping too flat and not really pushing like she should be.
Found this gem from last winter...yes its a bit over exaggerated and Tillie taking the long spot, but its a good example of the jumping flat and not round.
Instantly I get myself all worked up because who wants to have a horse that cant jump? I mean she jumps and is super willing (sometimes way too eager) but as an eventer you want a horse that jumps well and safely for both of your sake. Ill give her credit, she is athletic enough that shes gotten by at this point and clears fences fairly easily but we are only jumping max 2'11 right now...most days closer to 2'6 or 2'7. My fear is that there will come a point this poor form will make or break whether or not shes can do this.

Leave it to me to take a perfectly fine lesson or ride and freak out...things calm down, get boring and I get all edgy and jumpy from the residual PTSD I have from the first year of owning this horse when I constantly had to look over my shoulder for a phone call she was injured yet again.

I do not like drama yet I seem to create it for myself.

The moment you forget to finish a portion of the exercise
There will always be something for us to work on. Horses and training are never ending, but I have this awful way of taking what that next thing we need to work on is and turning it into my this anxious worry that my horse wont be my partner in crime.

I want to reach my top goals on her. The far out ones like getting to a 1* and I would love for her to be a horse people see and go, man what a nice horse that is. I know the latter of that statement is me looking for validation...but I do still feel as though Tillie doesnt really get noticed when we go places and it makes me feel like maybe she isnt something special.

My weird tense riding at its finest.

I know that is my downfall and its something I should make a goal every month for the rest of the year to work on.

It doesnt help that I recently noticed a few things that are causing some concern (which seems to just make me that much more edgy and prone to being over anxious on all other things Tillie related).

  1. Tillie has intermittently been off her grain. She always will eat her hay in her stall eagerly..but she has never been a picky eater or one to do this. 
  2. She is incredibly back sore. I feel like such a bad mom for not noticing because she hasnt been...back sore to the point I just lightly touch her and she buckles and dips so hard I worry she might fall over
  3. Horse cant balance and stand in the freaking trailer 

Tillie still seems eager to work and quiet.
I attribute #1 to the increased amount of work and more frequent hauling...I already started her on ulcer treatment BUT with her not eating her food that has it in it doesnt really do anything. I unfortunately think I need to invest in some of the paste which is like 2x more expensive.

#2 I have no idea yet what the cause is but talking with Emma shes talking me off the ledge and we are sort of leaning towards the fact shes been in much more aggressive work and jumping the most frequently she ever has. So basically like us when we start using new muscles get sore. I want to believe this to be the case with her still going so well and jumping so quietly. I fear it may be saddle fit issue, the new pelham bit or, worse yet, the hind end lameness I delt with last year possibly coming back to haunt me and its showing up here first. I have not decided my next course of action yet for this...I think I need to calm the fuck down before making any decisions or spending money of a vet if its isnt needed.

3 I will elaborate more on below...

When your horse canters over fences rather then jumps.

So back to our lesson Saturday, I had to haul us there with Emma being back in business on Izzy! Woo!! But Tillie HATES my trailer and cant stand up to save her life around turns...In another friends that is wider it isnt an issue at all. In Emmas she would mostly for slower turns after being stopped or really slow. BUT for some reason in my little straight load is the worst and you can see her shoulders flying all around, her head goes flying side to side and it just generally looks unpleasant. I have no idea why she still even loads because I KNOW how much she hates not being balanced. I have started using shipping boots for fear shes going to slice herself open in her scrambling.

I have no idea how to remedy this other then keep hauling and hope she figures it out.

Bitch please, Im fabulous
Other then that we tacked up with a lot of her looking around and just disregarding my space (a few good checks on that she was fine) and hacked up to the ring like a pro. I am so pleased with how well shes gotten this part down since the first few times she was so jumpy and jigging the entire way up there.

This was my first attempt to jump in double reins. It is really apparent I need a curb rein and my current one is way too bulky/uncomfortable, but it was good enough to attempt and P commented that this bit has really seemed to mature Tillie. She know seems to understand her job and despite occasional sass its usually when shes calling me out on something I screwed up.

 Tillie went through every exercise like it was no big deal...watching back the videos from this lesson though it is really apparent just how flat and low she is jumping AND just in general my lack of equitating even on the flat. WTF?! Just a few lessons ago I felt like it was better and now my heel is up and my back is hunches and my shoulders are so tense I look like a tool.

All in all the lesson was long!! a good 2 hours at least with a lot of standing around and catching up which was was a solidly boring ride from Tillie made not boring from all of my woes.

so anyway here is the video mash up of some clips a student of mine capture (sorry for the poor quality, Emma and I are definitely going to put her in videoing boot camp!)


  1. The flat and the sore back might be related. If her back is sore she probably isn't going to want to lift it to go round. If you want to test the saddle fit, you can not ride her for a few days and lunge her. If you can get her to work correctly on the lunge and her back stays sore it's from working. If it improves then you might want to take another look at the saddle fit. That being said I am far from an expert so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    1. Totally something to consider, but shes always jumped and been this way before the sore back and has been something I have been concerned with before :(
      Shes NEVER had a sore back until recently though I do think it makes it worse... Recent changes include more work load, riding more in the jump saddle and the new bit.

  2. I can totally relate to your changing ride. One day I'm an eq pro and the next I'm a backyard rubber booter. It's all part of the process. Don't get to frustrated.

  3. Boring rides sometimes are the best rides to have!

    1. In the world of Tillie - It certainly is :)

  4. first of all i'm thrilled to hear that the recent course work can be "boring" - that's exactly the mentality Tillie has lacked for... ever? haha. but seriously tho, i hear your concerns about the other little niggling details. hopefully it's just the simple explanation of pushing ever higher with the work and expectations.

    1. haha yea...boring was not in her vocabulary so this is progress :)