Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lessons in humility

There's a reason we pay money for other people to stand in the middle of the ring and yell at us, and mostly it's to see what we can't. It's weird to call her my trainer because she's more my best mate, but she's an absolute genius. 

China has been going so well. So loose in his back since his physio that his saddle pads needed adjustment because he got a rub under a panel and in the last week he filled out along his top line. Had a fantastic jump school on Tuesday were he was adorable. Quiet to the base, soft in the air and really rhythmical in his canter. He's pretty consistently jumping around the 90cm/3ft mark and starting to show more and more promise. 

Then on Saturday we were supposed to have another winter jumping day which was axed at the last minute so instead I had a lesson. And it was a hum dinger. I kind of had this idea it would go really well and I'd get a big pat on the back and be told how great I am basically, which honestly is a shit attitude to take into a lesson.

China turned up to play with a bad attitude. Running at the fences, failing to turn, super fussy in the bridle. We jumped the treble about seven times using placer rails and v rails to get him to start thinking and slow down and to be fair the last time through he was actually awesome. Really got up into the air. 

Went to the course work and for the first time in a super long time I actually had a bit of a mental break while jumping. I have been really confident and really good with focusing on the quality of my canter, and mentally counting my strides to keep the rhythm. When I get really obsessed about my take off points it all kind of goes to bits and I do really struggle with nerves. I've been good on China because he's so brave and normally very easy to see your strides on. On Saturday though he was falling out in his corners and fussing and I pulled up part way through the course and was like I can't do this. We discussed if the bit was too sharp and switched the thin loose ring sweet iron French link for the long cheek thicker French link and honestly he was way softer in it. 

I got him around the course ok  the second time. Mostly got him to the quieter distance and when he was soft at the base he really showed some promise and we jumping ok down the hard bending line. Hogs back oxer five strides to a giant cross to a stile all on a right hand bend. It's actually a four to a four but because he wanted to run we went wide on the curve to do the five, and then let him roll on to do four to the stile. I still felt slightly panicked the whole time we were jumping and like I was moving to much in the air and lacking balance. I wanted to do the last line again but this is why I pay my trainer money. She wouldn't let me. She was like he's done it really well and maybe if it went ok that would be fine, but it was a good note to end on and if it didn't go well then it would be opening a huge can of worms. 

And then she said he probably needs a break. And it was like oh yea he totally does. Did I mention he was bucking his canter transitions? Classic sour horse. I couldn't see the forest for the trees. He's only five, he's gone from being only able to canter wildly on a forty meter to balanced and round fifteen meter circles, lateral work, jumping courses, and hacking all about the place, in only five months. Of course he needs a break, of course he's mentally exhausted. The worst bit is I got on Bob and was like man this horse is tired and needs a break. Couldn't see it in my own horse. The next day I took him and an old broodmare to a block of land and just let him go to hang out on five acres for at least three weeks. I'll just feed him and being away from the yard means i won't be tempted to ride him.


  1. Happy holidays China! When you put down all he has learnt in 5 months, you've done an incredible job. There's the pat on the back you didn't get from the lesson haha. Not so valuable as what you did get but there ya go anyway. :)

    1. He's adapted to being a sport horse with great enthusiasm. He's made it really easy

  2. "that's a shit attitude to bring to a lesson" I totally get you there, at some point maybe I'll recognize that I'm about to fall on my face when I think that I'm going to be the best ever in my lesson. You really have brought China so far, I bet he comes back great from his holiday!

  3. Love when they get the job! I hope he enjoys his break :)

  4. ahhh trainers, how i love (and need!) their wisdom! hopefully China comes back fully refreshed and ready to roll after his little break!