It’s Been a While…

February 10, 2011

I’ve had a difficult time keeping up on this, since I haven’t really been doing much with Fred.

So, as everyone should know, Fred was diagnosed with navicular in his right front. He has a cyst on the bone. Right now, he is on a trial run of isoxuprene and bute to see if it helps him. If it does, then he will be on it for the rest of his life. It will be a “trial and error” type thing until we figure out what works for him. If it doesn’t work, the vet suggested the German drug, Tildren.

That being said, I have now ridden Fred twice in the past week. I have been trying this “You trust me and I trust you” thing. I’ve quit looking for things for Fred to spook at. I’ve started trusting him that he will behave. So far, it seems to be helping a lot. He’s not acting as insecure. The first day, he was extremely calm. I was relatively surprised when the horses were outside the back doors, whinnying and making noise, and Fred was going along doing his job without spooking at it. That was a first! Every time we went towards the back door, I would just keep his mind busy; I would work the bridle and use my legs and seat– but I would NOT pay attention to the door. I knew if I paid attention to it, so would he. It seemed to work.

I also rode the other day. He was a little bit more hyped up. I lunged him first and he actually bolted at the back door and I lost grip of the lunge line. He then got worried because there was something dragging behind him and so he wouldn’t stop. I finally got him to calm down and stop and let me get him unwrapped. We worked a little longer then I tacked him up. A woman from the barn rode with me. I have decided, for now, to only ride with others, for two reasons.

(1) I always ride by myself. I think that is part of the reason when I show, I get so nervous in big classes. I get worried when people pass me. I get worried when people are close to me. I get this feeling of being crammed against the rail and it freaks me out. When I’m going faster than a trot, I get worried about getting passed, etc. So, I think I need to start riding with others so I can practice and get more used to it.

(2) Fred is calmer when he is with other horses. He feeds off of them; so if I’m with calm horses, he doesn’t spend the whole time spooking. :grins:

———————————

So, he was really well-behaved then as well. He was giving all of his attention to me. I worked on my leg position a bit; and let me tell you, it’s super frustrating. I can’t figure out where my leg goes, and then when I get it there properly, I lose it when I go to trot. I either relax my leg too much or I tense it up too much. I can’t find the right balance. I can’t tell the difference between steady contact with my calves or gripping. I can’t tell the difference whether I’m gripping too much with my knees and thighs or just enough. I’m a mess. But, I am going to work really hard on it from now on. I am going to practice, practice, practice. I am not a natural rider. I actually have to work at it. So, in order to get better, I need to try as hard as I can. I have some ideas, like more work on two point to relax my lower leg and get it in the correct position. Even if I’m trotting a few strides then two pointing a few strides. I am also going to do “sevens”, which I learned about from a forum friend. I will be taking lessons eventually too. But, I need to work on it in my spare time as well. Lessons aren’t going to be enough! I think once I figure out my legs, it will be much easier for me to relax the rest of my body.

ALSO. I talked to my lovely ‘psychologist’ and he made me realize some things. I am nervous when it comes to anything besides a slow, collected canter. Why? Well, since day 1 of riding, it has always been about concentrating on the trot. That is the “important gait”. So, since I started riding, lessons were always mainly trotting and then cantering once or twice each direction at a pretty ‘slow’ pace. Not a lope, of course, but not fast either. So, that is what I am used to. When I go to shows and Fred goes any faster than a collected/medium canter, I get freaked out. Instead of thinking “Okay, I need to do this to slow him down. ” like a normal rider, I go “Oh shit! He is going fast. Why is he going fast? Oh my god. Oh my god. He’s going to bolt, isn’t he?” and then I tense up and end up making things worse.

“Psychologist” said that when he used to play sports, like wrestling, he was required to do a certain move 1,000 times (literally, no joke) during the first week. So that way, it would just come natural to him and he could worry about other things. So, it makes sense. I need to get used to going faster. When a horse goes faster, it needs to feel NORMAL to me. It needs to feel natural. That way, when it happens, I can think “Okay, this is how I need to slow him down. Okay, I’m coming up behind this rider. I am going to make a pass and get right in front of her.” instead of my usual “Oh dear god. I can’t slow him down. He’s going to bolt. Oh god. There is a rider in front of me. What am I going to do? I’m going too fast. We’re out of control!” I think he is going to take off on me only because he is going faster than I’m used to. SO, I need to get used to going that fast!

That, my friends, is part of the reason I get so nervous with showing. I need to get used to riding with others and I need to get used to more than just one speed. Does that make sense? I hope it does. It made more sense when it was explained by someone else. But, after having it mentioned to me, I realized that really is part of it. So, I need to work on it by myself. I need to go out in the pasture on Fred and just canter. A lot. Different speeds, different places. Not out of my comfort zone. When I’m ready to speed up, I will. Eventually, it will get to a point where I can go fast and not be nervous–I can go fast and think about what else I am supposed to do, rather than forgetting everything and just worrying about the fact I am going faster than I’m supposed to.

As for videos, they will come soon. I have [way too much] anxiety. Hahaha. Another thing that makes me uncomfortable is video taping in front of people. I have a song picked out for a new video. I have ideas for clips. Every time I go out to the barn, somebody is there, and I feel really uncomfortable grabbing my video camera and setting it up. I feel like everyone is watching me and like “Here she goes again with those freaking videos. She needs a life.”

And I know the majority of those people watch my videos and probably aren’t thinking that, but still, I’m uncomfortable. So, I need to find a time where I can video tape and not feel like people are watching me. Or, have somebody come out and tape for me. Then I feel much more comfortable.

Besides, once I start my ‘cantering in the pasture’ stuff, it will need to be taped! We can’t miss that!

Youtube comment of the month, here!

“You are incredible; at riding, videomaking, and just in general. You and Fred are a perfect example of an unbreakable bond, and I love watching you two together. You take the best care of him, and from your videos, you can tell he unconditionally loves you. You’re such an inspiration, and in a way, you remind me a little of my story (I’ll message you). I subscribed, and you’re probably the best person I’ve subscribed to.”

Look for the February 2011 issue of Saddle and Bridle. It should be out on the shelves and in your mailboxes soon. There is a three page story about Fred and I featured in there! Let me know what you think.

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