No doubt my last post voiced some serious frustrations. In a way, I think it helped me get it out of my system, and to figure out a plan to not just whine about my shortcomings, but rather figure out how to conquer them.
I mentioned before that I'd started playing with stirrup length, especially at the start of the ride, to help open, loosen, bump my legs along. I think this has been working.
I also invested in a back support brace. Just a cheapo Ace Bandage type thing found at the local Rite Aid for around $30. This, my friends, has been magic, above all else. It definitely helps me stabilize my core, and has given me the opportunity to loosen everything else in the process. I feel strong, held together (duh, cuz I am), and powerful. Maybe it is cheating, but I don't care. I don't walk away with severe hip pain, my horse is going much better, and I'm feeling better.
In addition to my magic bullet, I've also started to do some serious upper body stretching, especially to my left side. I've realized how crooked I sit, and I've been catching myself and correcting myself almost constantly, in addition to stretching out my arms and legs during the day. In addition, just some basic stretches has shown me how balled up my left side really is.
I do have plans to start the exercise plan in the Riders Fitness book - but I am not confident I will stick to it religiously - I am just not home enough during the week. Hmm maybe the barn needs a gym... oooo, now there's an idea.
Now for the harder part: the self- confidence. Having a trainer is like having a therapist. Yesterday during my lesson I voiced my frustration with myself and my riding. I told my trainer everything I have been feeling - like an incompetent rider, that I'm ruining my horse, making him grumpy, and the guilt I have. We were working on upward transitions and talking about energy- and the analogy she used was great. She said think about transitions like changing the channel on a television. The TV is still on, using the same energy, but you are just changing from one channel to another - there is no jolt of energy like when you turn the TV on. Holy crap, she's right. You need a quality walk to get a quality trot. So of course then I asked about my own horse, and said that I feel guilty about asking him to do all this stuff at a greater energy and on the bit because I feel like when he doesn't respond, its due to my incompetence, and so if i tap him with my whip or get after him for being lazy, I'm essentially punishing him for my own faults as a rider.
My trainer then made a great point. First of all, she said to cut the crap out and stop talking myself down, that I'm doing a great job. She also said that he's a 4 year old green horse, and even with the best of riders, he's going to test the waters, especially now as he enters his 4th year. And even if he does something that is my fault, he is still not allowed to get away with it, and still needs correction. So if I let him get lazy, quit, go above the bit and never correct it even though I know I am at fault, he'll just get worse. There is no point in not doing anything, no matter who is at fault.
Okay trainer, you win this round, but I'll be back for you next week.