Thursday, February 24, 2011

Golightly Into Spring

I don't love February. The weather sucks, the eventing world has gone south, frostbite schooling shows, shoveling snow may get you fit but it hurts – and Katchi isn't the best gift giver on Valentine’s Day – basically, February kinda sucks.

But not this February!

This year it’s been so warm I’ve managed quite a few of my early morning rides outside, on soft ground, watching the sunrise cast a golden glow over the arena and Katchi. It’s been absolutely breathtaking. And I’ve snuck in a couple of show jumping lessons – with Jim Wofford and Sharon White. What luck!

Katchi even found some spring grass this February!

But the main reason I love February 2011 is the Golightly gang! Last Sunday, I had a small gathering of students and friends over for a “40 days until spring” party. And what fun we had! While the wine, cupcakes and cake were definitely a highlight of the evening – the videos were priceless! I spend a lot of time videoing my students, but we rarely have the chance to sit down together and critique the good, the bad, and the ugly of their rides. So, everyone brought a short video from this past year for us to watch and learn from – the game quickly took on a theme – the not so fabulous to much more fabulous! We watched falls and refusals and unintended ziggity-zaggety approaches to jumps – we cringed and laughed at ourselves! And for redemption – each not so fabulous video was followed by a much more fabulous video! It was absolutely fantastic to see how much improvement had happened in such a short amount of time! Most of us don't spend our weekend evenings watching old horrible videos of ourselves - we like to watch the good ones! So, it's easy to overlook just how far we've come. I think our little cinema premier was a huge confidence boost to everyone and a tremendous energizer to get back out there and keep working – because things really are going in the right direction!

It was also so helpful to talk through the videos with everyone – to see when they made good rider decisions, even with me stuck on the sidelines not able to tell them what to do! To see when they forgot my instructions and what happened as a result. And to learn some new things too - using Katchi’s helmet cam from last fall – I showed everyone how to place your horse on a line so that you can avoid the mucky ground that the 100 horses before you tore into a 2 foot wide mud path right at the middle of the 12 foot face of the jump. It’s like riders are stuck on a conveyor belt in a trance… MUST GO EXACTLY WHERE THE ENTIRE HERD OF RUNNING SHEEP BEFORE ME WENT… Why not steer 2 feet over and give your horse solid ground and good footing to take off from so he doesn’t have to work so hard, get sucked in the mud, and risk a shoe or injury – there is no rule in eventing that you have to jump the 12 foot wide face of a galloping fence right at the 6 foot midpoint mark – but there is a rule (at least I have a rule!) that you owe it to your horse to make things as easy as possible for him and keep him safe. Find the good ground!

I had hoped to spend some of the evening also talking about spring goals and plans, but blame it on the aforementioned wine, cupcakes, and cake (and all the other good eats!), we got sucked into the riot of the videos and never got to goals! But I think the night must have inspired everyone else as much as it did me, based on the flurry of emails I’ve gotten since then asking me about spring goals and plans.
So keep any eye on the calendar on my website to see where the Golightly gang will be next - SPRING IS COMING!

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