Monday, June 28, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Because last weekend was an off weekend for me - Katchi wasn't competing, and I didn't have any students going to anything either - I did what I normally do... found 10,000 things to do! In the past 10 days or so, I've ridden with Jimmy, Silva, and Eric Smiley (twice)! Plus, over the past few weeks, for various reasons, I've been riding 2 students horses quite a lot. So much for an "off weekend" or week! But, I'm feeling better for it all - physically and mentally. Well, I think mentally anyhow. I'm starting to think that I think too much - but it's what I do and who I am - so there you have it!
So, I've been thinking... when you work through all three phases - Dressage, Show Jumping, and Cross Country - with three different keen and expert eyes - and the take-home message is pretty much the same from all three... you kinda have to think they're onto something. Actually, all the lessons have gone really well this week - a few mistakes here and there, but really good overall. Which is almost more frustrating, because I realize that we're just a nose away from 3 great phases, but I'm not quite able to keep it all together at the shows.
It's not that I don't know when things are going wrong - it's that I watch them go wrong when I should be doing something so they don't go wrong! Many riders know this feeling well - from Beginner Novice to 4-star. But what does it take to get there? More horses? More lessons? A little sports psychology sprinkled on the top? How do top athletes become top athletes - how do they make it look SO easy when the rest of us know it's SO hard?
Jimmy told me to stop critiquing my ride in the middle of it. The man is like a scary mind-reader. If only the Army had put him to work in "the men who stare at goats" program - I honestly believe he could control wars with his jedi mind tricks. Anyhow, he's right. I over-analyze my ride - IN THE MIDDLE OF IT. A few days later, Silva commented how much better Katchi and I rode through the test patterns than we did just going around - and I realized, it's because when we were warming-up, I was whining in my head about, "oh, he's a little stiff on the right, and he's leaning on that shoulder, and his neck needs to relax a little more..." But when Silva started calling out test movements - I stopped whining and started riding. And Eric said it again. It's not good enough to know things are going wrong - you must react with the right response at the right moment. I must be quicker in my mind and my body.
Below is a 2 minute clip from my lesson with Silva last week (do you like my corset looking back brace?!)
Katchi ducked out on me twice today XC schooling at a very simple bank into and out of water. I can hear Lucinda groan, but I'll say it anyhow... I thought I had it! But, as Eric said, we got right there, and Katchi opened a door out the side. It's my job to close it - and fast. And the more I think about the bank incident at Rubicon - that's exactly what happened. Yes, I did everything right, until Katchi opened a door to the side. And I didn't close it.
As I posted a few months ago... Practice until good is better and better is best.
Ride for Life is this weekend at the Prince George's Equestrian Center - I'm really excited that Silva will be there and her ride times will allow her to help get us warmed-up. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say hello!
Saturday - 3:51 (Ring 3) - First Level Test 2
Sunday - 11:22 (Ring 2) - First Level Test 2
Sunday - 2:05 (Ring 3) - First Level Test 3
And thanks so much to everyone who has donated to the Johns Hopkins Avon Breast Center to help my high-pledge goals! I'm excited to find out what our total donations will add up to this year - if you haven't donated yet, it's not too late. Just go to...
And one final note about my Jimmy lesson - since I took my first lesson with him several years ago, he periodically threatens someone who is ducking to one side or the other over their fences. He says, 'just let me take away your right stirrup, and you'll never duck to the right again!' And we all laugh, and I think - gee, I'm glad I don't duck to the side over my fences! Well, last week, the threat became a reality. Jimmy made the entire group of us get rid of one stirrup and jump over some fences on a 2-stride turn, and not run him over. I jumped the fence just fine, and successfully did not run over Jim Wofford. I managed to come around and jump the fence again - all good - still in the saddle, Jimmy still upright and not panicked! Then it was time to pull-up. Not so good. I felt like a sloppy floppy kid trying to pull up a "run away" pony that might have been trotting (not exactly running away speed!). Seriously, I was pretty sure I was going to fall off to the side, Katchi was not stopping, and I just about ran over the group of horses watching this disaster. It must have made Jimmy laugh, but he was gracious enough not to say a word. That in itself was a jedi mind trick! And, oh, by the way, I had a knot in my right thigh for 2 days for my troubles. Gee, thanks Jimmy. Guess I have something to practice before our next lesson.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I am really really frustrated with today, but I've had almost 8 hours to think about it. The facts are: 2nd after dressage (out of 18 starters), one rail in SJ plus 3 time penalties, one stop at the bank on XC with 25.2 time penalties. The other half of the story is - dressage was okay, but I gave a way several points and I hate when I do that (LOVIN' the new saddle though!). Show jumping felt horrid. I was thrilled with Katchi's coping with the terrain and the ease at turning him, but we were back to far too many icky icky jumps. He felt so locked on the bit, and I just didn't feel like we were talking to each other at all. I was sure XC would be better - it wasn't. It was one of the hardest rounds I've had to ride. There was no light easy XC machine Katchi. Apparently he didn't come to this show. Really, as I think about it, he jumped the big jumps really well (and was spot on at the corner!) - it was the smaller jumps that he was icky at. And in between. Again, we just didn't talk to each other out there like we normally do. And I had to work my butt off. It caught up to me at the bank complex when I just couldn't stuff him down it on the first try.
Here's my list of things I learned today:
1. My bat should ALWAYS be on the right side. Despite being right handed, I carry it in my left hand. No more. If I see one more freaking red flag coming at my face, I'm going to start having nightmares about it!
2. My jumping issues are first and foremost a straightness issue. It's true in SJ, and it's true in XC. I don't stand a chance of stuffing Katchi over a ditch or down a bank if I cannot keep him straight to it.
3. No more night turn-out for Katchi the night before a show. I guess it's like not letting your kid have a slumber part the night before the SATs. Duh.
4. Katchi will keep me safe, and I need to trust him to do that. (By the way, remember the big freaking table at the bank complex - he trotted it. And survived just fine.) I need to focus on what he does need help with - like confidence to get down a bank. I do not need to worry about whether he will keep me safe.
And the list of things I still need to figure out:
1. How to ride the horse I have on the day I have him. Jimmy says, "it takes two to pull". Why was Katchi pulling on me so bad today? What could I have done to fluff him up and make him light and responsive?
2. What does Katchi need from me to give him the confidence to jump new questions on faith that I won't steer him wrong?
3. Is it time to consider a new bit?
Anyhow, we have Seneca Valley on Saturday in 6 days. Katchi won that event last fall. Sure would like to have a good round this time too. Am signed up for jumping clinics with Jim Wofford, Eric Smiley, and Boyd Martin over the next month - hopefully they can help me figure out the answers to my list of questions. I definitely need something to look forward to after today's disappointment.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Below is a picture of just one example of this masterful work - jump #5 is a vertical at the edge of the top plateau. Riders then come down the shallowest part of the "mini-cliff" with a left hand turn to a 2 stride in-out on the lower-level plateau, with the second element a Swedish oxer. Wow! No-one ever puts a Swedish oxer in a combination, but it's perfect here. Because it tells the riders, they better not just come down this line, center-to-center, fat dumb and happy! They better be jumping on the left side, or else 1) they'll jump the wrong part of the oxer and likely have the back rail down, and 2) the ground cuts away hard to the right about 2 strides after landing - one does not want to fade right in this combination (thank you Sharon White for drilling us over and over on that detail at my lesson on Thursday!).
Immediately following the combination at #6, we make a left turn and up a steeper part of the "mini-cliff" to a vertical waiting for us at the top. In the picture below, #7 is the vertical to the right side of the picture. Very very clever use of terrain!
I think the Training bank complex will be in the mind of many Training riders tonight. I think it will ride superb, but the final element table is freaking huge! The picture below does not do it justice. Small table (#11A), 2 strides to bank down (#11B), to a bending 4 stride to aforementioned big freaking table (#12). I think you just kick-on, and it will be great - I'm already imagining telling Katchi "GOOD BOY!" as he leaps over that table!
But the best jump on the course is on the Prelim course. It has its own beer!!! Look carefully at the pictures below - you might just detect a cut out square with a handle in the middle of the log (which I tried quickly to open before the first Prelim horse came through, but then I saw jump judges and photographers with their eye on me, and I lost the nerve to investigate further). However, there was evidence of beer in the pile of beer bottle caps laying below the jump's BUILT-IN beer bottle opener!!! This truly is the best jump ever.