Deliberate Consistency

One thing I’ve been told consistently by separate horsewomen and men throughout my riding career is “Ride the horse you are given.”

This can mean a lot of different things depending on the circumstances. Be more tough on a pokey sloughy type, don’t expect the saintly 2”0 packer to jump around a 1.20m course, and allow a horse’s fitness and physical limitations be your guardrails.

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Someone is upset with the prospect of his imposed guardrails – ice boots.

It can translate to a whole host of other lessons, but those examples tell us we have to listen and be pliable. We cannot immure our animals into selfish expectations.

Sometimes I focus so much on what a horse needs at a given time, I do not embrace its counter-message. Be consistent. For me and my human clan, it’s a tough sell. Be flexible to what a horse needs, but also be the same in the intensity and escalation of your asks? Maybe you should ask me to solve differential equations without a calculator while juggling especially slippery objects.

Stress.

If you are like me, you have a lot going on in your life, what I like to call “distractions” from my true love of animals and riding. Examples of this include this little thing called “work” and “taxes”.

My mind can be flooded with these distractions, and when I allow it to take a forefront mental calculations, my riding feels much more hurried. Rather than be the relaxed and soft rider I know I can be, it’s about getting to point B in the fastest way possible.

Real life scenario – I arrive at the barn, late for my lesson, after a high-pressure, hectic work day. I allow my normal, slow warm up. This was deliberate. When getting Q up to speed, I kept repeating to be slow and listen to him, especially we are dealing with soundness question marks.

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Night is supposed to be peaceful, right? Not frenetic?

Good job me right? Wrong.

We start jumping, and there goes all that quiet riding I warmed up on. I am aggressive, shoulder-pitching, leaning self with all the pressures of a stressful corporate job screaming at me when I need it least.

Being consistent is my crux when my mind is playing through its own algorithms. My approach needs to be the same, because it’s not fair to divert course mid-ride.

Does anyone else have to practice deliberate consistency? Or get easily caught in a tense cycle once it starts? Always appreciative of suggestions.

Group Power

Basking in the glow of good rides is its own energy that burns completely clean. I had the wonderful opportunity to ride in a group lesson, which I realized, I totally missed. Having additional people around to release the tension of mistakes, or cheer you on when things go well warms my spirit. As well, getting to watch others approach the same challenge generates interesting “huh” moments.

Yeaaa, group lesson cheerleaders!

With Q, none of us who work with him have Olympic aspirations. Thus, we are all taking our time to piece together a stronger, healthier, and happier horse. With that, comes taking a step back on course complexity and height, which I was elated to do.

Though on Saturday, we got to do something a bit more fun and higher than we typically do in our private jumping lessons, and we really rose to the occasion, no pun intended (really).

The nice thing about our flatwork progression is that Q is getting a motor as well as more impulsion to his gaits, which makes the jumping easier and more enjoyable.

We did a line to rollback to rollback course. The jumps were objectively not big, maybe 2’6”, but when you have been jumping 2’ mostly, there is still a child-like enthusiasm when jumps go up.

I laugh about the days when jumping 3’9″ in lessons was “normal”. Maybe one day I will own a horse capable of that, but I am happy to do what I can now.

That’s all to say, Q was fantastic. He totally marched down the line in the strides, jumped the snot out of the oxers, and in general felt really willing.

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Not Q, but big man is still adorable and still for sale.

One thing I will continue to work on is to get his hind end aligned, he loves to trail his hindquarters out (toward the rail if you are coming off it), especially through the turns. I need to really bring him more effectively around my inside leg then and also finish the turn with outside aids so we don’t canter somewhat sideways.

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have some thing I could do better. But I cannot contain my joy with him. We are all so happy with the little squirt. Maybe a show season could happen?