Slow Starter

Even after a year, I get a little anxious about getting on the Saddlebreds.* I’m better than I was, but my stomach still twinges when I march up the mounting block. Partly, I only ride once (or twice) a week and don’t ride any one horse regularly. Partly, I take after Pratchett’s Bursar, “widely accounted as a neurovore i.e. someone living on his own nerves”. Mostly, it’s a complete lack of Quarter Horse start on my part.

*Except for Sam. My anxiety detector has decreed that Sam can Do No Wrong. Even when Sam misbehaves, he has a special dispensation that allows me to simply tell him to get over himself. Previous Horse had the same dispensation. Mathilda could lift her head to look into the woods and I would get all over her case. Previous Horse could canter sideways with me across the pasture and I’d just laugh at him.

In jumpers, one has a first round to see the course. In eventing, one has dressage before cross-country. In riding at home, I believe in easing into the project. Get on. Walk about. Trot on the buckle. Canter ditto, if possible. Walk again. Do a few circles. Get the kinks out. I refer to this as allowing the horse to have coffee and read email before getting to work.

No so with saddleseat. The idea is to enter trotting and ramp it up from there. Oh, there might be some walking up and down the barn aisle if needed, or a slower trot to start out, but the overall idea is up and at ’em from the get go. This is way more work** than I am ready for straight out of the box.

**update: per comment below, immediate focus is my problem more so than immediate work. Squirrel!
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Categories: Horses, Sports Psychology

3 replies »

  1. Interesting point about straight to work – as a matter of fact, that’s how my dance partner runs his lessons. No warm-up (you should have unkinked those muscles on your own time) and straight to focus and work. That’s how the competitions run – straight into the arena and work – and that’s how he feels we should be programmed.

  2. Immediate focus is exactly the point. I too have “oh look, a chicken!” issues with (a leaf blowing by!!) attention focus. That’s why Jari insists on immediate attention to work.

  3. Having an interest in Buddhism, I am amused that the new hot buzzword is “mindfulness”. Not a bad idea although certainly not new. And probably due after long years of the scattered multitasking of recent generations.

    When I practice mindfulness, life is less exhausting, richer and a lot more fun. OTOH, it’s a lot easier to do when I”m rested, healthy, dishes done and the bills paid. It is also true that it was probably impossible for me when I was as young as the author.

    Something to look forward to…

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