Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mental Game

People who don't ride sometimes ask if riding is really a sport, doesn't the "horse do all the work"??  My answer to that is an emphatic no.  Sure you can just be a passenger and not do anything, but proper riding requires a lot from the the rider.  For me there is a big difference between my lessons and when I'm riding alone.  Even though I try, I don't have the same focus alone and get a little lazy.  When I have my lessons I can get tired and out of breath, and feel sore the next day.

As much as riding is a physical sport, it is definitely also a mental one.  The partnership between horse and rider I think is pretty unique among sports, even though working well with your teammates is essential in a lot of different sports.  Horses easily pick up on our moods and emotions, and if we are worried then they think there is something they should be worried about too.  Horses need their riders to be present and confident.  But sometimes when we mess up the horse is there to bail us out!  Even though Cupid is young and green he is a great partner, and we're really learning how to work together. 

Usually riding helps me clear my head and not think about the stresses in my life, but every so often it can be too much.  I had such a lesson last week.  I lost my nerve a bit, even though we were jumping a grid we've done before and Cupid was behaving perfectly.  Something about how the fences come up so quick irrationally terrified me.  My trainer noticed and asked me what was going on, then we backed off a little.  I felt like I let Cupid down that day by not riding with the focus and confidence that he deserves.

Since that was a bit long and maybe more serious than most of my blog, here is something to lighten things up.  Cupid's pasturemate is showing that the grass is indeed greener on the other side of the fence!
Luckily our next ride was much better.  Even though I was a little worried, I was able to focus much better.  Also we had another horse and rider in the lesson and I think that somehow helped me relax a little.  We started out with a single little crossrail which gradually was raised into a 2'6" vertical, no problem!  Then we did the grid and it was much less intimidating this time.  Even

Our last lesson we did a little poles course - great practice for navigating around a course without the stress of actually jumping.  We went through it at a trot once, then cantered the entire course.  Up to now we generally just canter on a circle and with the exception of the serpentine exercise a few weeks ago Cupid has never cantered around the arena changing directions.  But he was very relaxed, came down to a trot easily and picked up the correct lead each time I asked!!  I was very proud of him.  The exercise was also good practice for me as I kind of forgot where I was going once, I need to work on memorizing my courses!

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