One of my big goals for this year in my riding is to be more positive-to not stress over every moment that doesn’t work, to not get so caught up in the final goal that every moment where I’m not reaching it as quickly as I’d like gets considered a failure. This is pressure that I am COMPLETELY putting on myself. I make an effort to smile more (even if it’s for no reason), to breathe more, and to find a way to praise my horse at least once every couple of times around. I treat small successes like big successes, and make sure my horse shares it with me. It’s like building a new muscle memory-harder than it looks sometimes.
Tonka and I had some really great days this week. On Saturday, though, I had gotten into the habit of thinking too much, and I wasn’t getting him to stretch his neck and stride out. He was resisting , lifting his head, and dropping his back. I could feel myself getting frustrated, because the things that I thought I was doing weren’t working like they had later in the week. I could feel the tension in my muscles, and general crankiness beginning to set it….so I stopped. I went completely to a long rein, took several deep breaths and focused on relaxing my legs, and trying to figure out where I tended to hold my tension. When I tried to pull Tonka together again, he was better, but was still striding choppily, and resistant through his neck. I knew I couldn’t do anything without getting him to move out, so I kept concentrating on relaxing, and leaning back on a reach and stretch, and not collapsing. It was getting a little better, and suddenly Kaylee came riding by on her little Andalusian cross, who was flying around the ring. Tonka can get a little competitive, and he put his ears back and made a couple of strides in her direction….so I let him go. I said “Git her!” and encouraged him to go forward…and he went! He went and went and went, and I was able to gradually pull him back together. We ended up finishing the session better than we had done the entire week.
The moral? Two months ago I would have gotten so wrapped up in my own “failure” that I wouldn’t have been open to discovering what was available in the moment, and would have put up yet another block in my own way. Instead, we have a great session, I learn something about how to work with my horse, and Tonka gets treats and I get wine. Brilliant.