Sunday we had a riding clinic at the barn. Another trainer came out and shared some of her show secrets. I have to confess that I wasn’t too thrilled at the beginning, which covered the secret of the perfect bun. I still think it is far easier to chop my hair off and not have to worry about finding someone to help me with my hair. Not having a horse show mom really sucks, and I want to lodge my complaints about that now. Even Jen has abandoned me for the first show – can’t really get after her too much, though, as she’s in Korea for her grandmother’s funeral. I don’t even want to think about how stressful Saturday was after the family heard the bad news; yup, that’s one of those crappy days that you want to permanently blot from your memory.
After the hair styling session, we got the horses ready and headed out to the arena. There were two sessions, and I was in the first. I rode Nyk so I could actually concentrate on what Ann was trying to tell us. She had some very useful tips and like J, emphasizes gathering up your horse on the ends and shooting down the rail in front of the judge with as collected a horse as possible. Don’t fiddle with your reins on the straight-aways, just set your horse up for the best pass ever. I didn’t realize how much I fiddled with the reins. This is something that I definitely have to work on.
She also gave me and Laurie an exercise to try to get us sitting more solidly in the saddle. This is always something that I am struggling with, and I just don’t know how to fix it. My inclination is to lean forward; it’s just how I feel more balanced. Ann had us lower our hands and, at a sitting trot, complete a serpentine pattern. I couldn’t do it at all – thought I was going to fall off the horse. I tried again without my stirrups, and while it was the ugliest pattern in the history of serpentines, at least I stayed in the middle of the saddle. So much work to do. So little time until show season starts.
Tuesday I rode Blondie in a full bridle after M warmed her up. We used a blinker hood, and the horse looked really good when M was riding her. I kept overcompensating when Blondie tried to duck out of the corner at the far end, which started getting her frazzled. Then I got frazzled. This is not a good thing, obviously. Things always seem to fall apart when I am riding her. I have to remember what Ann told us on Sunday – 75% of the mistakes the judge doesn’t even see because they are usually focused on one part of the ring. I let every little thing unhinge me, and I have to work harder at just concentrating on correcting myself and riding the horse.
Last night I rode Nyk, and this was just a terrible ride. First off, he fell earlier in the day. He was in a bitting rig and he slipped coming out of a corner. Then, we changed his curb bit, and either his mouth was sore from falling, or he hated the new bit. Would not keep his head up for anything. The group lesson got off to a slow start with bit changes and adjusting new tack, and fighting with Nyk just got me flustered. I was so happy when M told me to call it quits with him, and she would swap back the old bit. Lessons like that, especially before a show, have such a nasty way of sucking every bit of positive energy out of me. I came home and Dean told me I have to get tougher and rise above it. I know that, but how does someone who is normally pretty pessimistic get a bright new attitude? So what have I learned this week? That the biggest obstacle to success is me. How do I fix that?