Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Patience, Grasshopper

My practice rides continue to be of the 'meh' sort.  They're not bad, they're not great.  They just are.  After about twenty minutes, I feel like I don't know what I'm doing so I quit.  I think it might be time to get one of those 101 arena exercise books or something so we can do more than circle, circle, serpentine, direction change.

I did find it interesting that on my last ride, I didn't worry at all about how much of the arena we were using.  I just worked on getting her forward and maintaining my position.  And sure enough, when I quit worrying about it we ended up down at the other end with no fussing at all.

Sunday, we got to follow two other horses down the driveway.  I had already dismounted so I ended up just leading Tessa but she went down with no problem.  She was a little pushy on the way back and was definitely on high alert, but didn't do anything naughty.

Tuesday was my jump lesson.  I normally ride at eight, but got a text at six thirty asking if I could ride at seven.  I live twenty minutes away from the barn.  So I hopped in my car, zoomed out there, gave the pony a perfunctory brush and tacked up.  I was the first one on my horse at seven o clock sharp.  Go me!  The great thing about having to go so quickly, was that I didn't have time to over think it.  I just got on and off we went.

Our forward still sucks.  Laura said she might put a ride on Tessa to try and figure out what I'm doing.  But I know what the problem is.  I just don't know how to fix it.  The problem is that I'm afraid of 'forward'.  I'm afraid of her running away.  I'm afraid of big trots and galloping and speed.  NONE of this is because my pony has EVER done anything that would cause this.  It's all totally me.  And it's mostly irrational since I think I've only had one horse actually run away with me and it was in an arena.  But it's there.  I'm not sure how to get rid of it.  It's not that I don't want to do these things.  I remember the feeling from when I was younger  of galloping across a field, jumping ditches.  I remember the power beneath me.

Rationally, I know that I am a good enough rider to stop my horse if she runs away.  Hello one rein stop!  I also know that I am a good enough rider to handle forward.  So how do I get over this?  Horses are sensitive enough to pick up on non verbal cues and my pony has drilled right into mine.  I'm afraid of forward.  Now that I've said it I'm hoping that the answer will come to me.

Not us...but some day soon, I hope it is.

Also, this summer we have plans to try to get out and do a 'grasshopper' course.  You can just call me Mona Sterling EVENTER.  We just won't mention the 'grasshopper' part to anyone who knows anything about horses.  I'll simply point to pictures of the Olympics when my friends ask what kind of riding I do.  "You know, like that...but a little smaller."

For those of who don't event, Grasshopper comes before Hopeful which comes before Beginner....Grasshopper is basically trotting around a field and trotting over logs 18 inches or less.  Yes!  I can totally get behind that.  And...though I'm apprehensive about doing it I'm also excited.


  1. Don't underestimate therapy. I went to a therapist to deal with some of my horse issues and it helped a lot.

  2. Hey great equestrian blog you have here! Why not come and post it at Haynet an equine social blogging network for more to read and follow. Come and visit

  3. Woohoo, grasshopper! That is my favorite smaller-than-recognized division name. Beats amoeba all hollow!

    I know that for me, it was a revelation to realize that it didn't matter how fast the horse went -- as long as I had control of balance and line, we were safe. Mileage may of course vary.

  4. Of course she's pissed - you're asking her to go forward and then telling her with your energy not to go forward . . . she's saying "I'm only doing what you're asking me to do".

    Is there another reliable horse you could ride a few times and really go forward - even hand galloping would be good - so you could get the feel and really enjoy it - that could go a long way towards washing out the conflict your mare is picking up on.

    Good luck and keep chipping away at it.

  5. I've been there. I know that feeling. And it can come and go depending on the horse you are riding! My most recent experience with it was after my injury. I spent a few rides in the round pen, then in the indoor area. I didn't focus on anything except "not interfering". I held the reins at the buckle, held the pommel of my saddle, and walked until I felt ok. I didn't matter where she went, as long as she stayed decidely going. Then I trotted. Not pretty, but going without silliness or jiiging or nonsense. Then canter. The rail or the wall contains her while I work through my internal issues without getting in her mouth or getting in her way. If she does something silly, I already have my handle, and all I have to do is relax and follow her. It's a nice exercise to revisit on a regular basis! She reassures me that she doesn't really want to kill me! ;)

  6. Forward is hard. It can be scary for me too, but my only advice is slowly build up confidence until it is no big deal.

  7. I second the idea of trying "forward" with another least to me, it sounds like you know you can handle it, but it's just a phobia you have on Tessa?

    I had never heard of grasshopper eventing but sounds like a fun, low-pressure thing to try!