Monday, June 14, 2010

To think and react quicker

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.

1 comment:

  1. I have the exact same problem -- especially jumping into lines. I know we're long or short and that I need to make a change, yet I wait three strides (or until we get to the next fence) to do it! Just how does one improve reaction time? If you figure out a secret, let me know :) And how did you like Eric Smiley? I managed to get into the Ride for Life for tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get to see at least one of your rides!