Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Sports Psychology’ Category

Rodney, The December Dismals

The relationship between Rodney and me has completely cratered.

It could be him. He’s been jumpy since his first massage back in October [Massage Day]. As if the bodywork stirred up physical issues. He was more accepting of his second massage – when he didn’t think it was ultra-weird – but still jumpy after. Or winter is coming. Rodney’s tension level always goes up as the temperature goes down. Or …

It could be me. I believe horses like to have a job. OTOH, Rodney is currently delighted with time off and isn’t coping well with the little bit of standing and riding that we do. He’ll run away when I go to catch him in the field. That’s new. In turn, I am not coping well with this change in attitude. I feel that I have put so much work into this horse and gotten so little in return. Maybe he doesn’t want to be near the scary, angry person. Or …

It could be both of us. Dark. Cold. A time of dormancy.

In the grand scheme of things, never riding your horse is tiny. It feels big to me.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Warning, More Whining

Saddle Seat Wednesday

Why? Because I’m sharing the journey. Because one day we will all look back on this and laugh?

Last week, I left the barn without riding.

I went over to Stepping Stone Farm. I watched Miss Courtney work a horse. Afterwards, she proposed two lovely horses for my lesson. The idea of getting on a horse appalled me. There was no looming horse show to push me forward. I went home.

I don’t understand myself. Riding fills me with dread. Yet, I can’t bring myself to walk away.

I had hoped Dottie would be the horse to help me find my mojo. Not so much. Turns out that whole run up to Nationals was an shining detour rather than a path back. As I sit here typing, thinking about riding Dottie makes me reach for the Pepto – and she is awesome.

Back to the whining drawing board. Onwards. (Not feeling it, but saying it anyway. Words have power. I hope.)

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


The Other Parts of My Life

A reader who has know me IRL for a long time pointed out that I have been letting my life get consumed by horses lately.

Practically, I can’t stop horsing. They live here. We have plans. In the next five weekends, one or both of us has a lesson or show (Awesome!). That doesn’t take into account Winter Tournament starting on weekend #6. Plus, I’m not gonna stop blogging (see Sane, Keeping me) and horses are what I have to talk about.


Maybe it’s time to stop pondering my problems, at least for a while. If wrestling with my issues was going to be successful, I would have pinned them to the mat by now. I could take a mental break. Look around. See what else is out in the wide world. Maybe find out what has been happening with the local LEGO folks. That’s as opposite to horses as I get (Of course I have a blog post on the subject, LEGO v. Horses). While I will always want to know why, leaving everything to simmer on the back burner may bring clarity. Stranger things have happened.

This is the reason one has friends. To point out when one has wandered into the weeds.

Confession Time
Her actual quote concerns driving in specific not horses in general.

I’ve seen you ride. Lots of times. I’ve never seen you look weak. You’ve been concentrating on the driving so much lately, you’ve simply forgotten what a good rider you really are. debandtoby [And We’re Back]

When I saw the comment the first time, I read it as “concentrating on RIDING.” I was struck coup de foudre. I really have been obsessing to an unhealthy, certainly unsuccessful, degree on horses and my riding lately. Hence the new mental direction and a post that wrote itself by that evening.

I didn’t see the correct version until I copied the quote here. Equally valid. Perhaps I saw what I needed to see. I don’t usually get words that wrong.

The statement on friendship is still true.

Update: What she said.
The Chronicle of the Horse: Getting A Life
by Lauren Sprieser
Nov 7, 2017

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

And We’re Back

Saddle Seat Wednesday

I’m going to Nationals.

What? I didn’t catch that.

I said, I’m going to Nationals.

Hey, that’s great. Good luck. I’m sure you’ll do …

Shh! Shh! Shh! I’m trying to keep it low-key. The tentative plan is Murfreesboro in November, but I reserve the right to bail at any point. With no disrespect to the folks at AA, One ride at a time.

The last day for entries was one of the Saturdays Milton was at SSF. The deadline had been extended due to Irma. I brought the subject up just to confirm that it wasn’t happening this year. I hadn’t had a lesson in months. Nationals had fallen off the radar and wandered out of the control tower.

Not necessarily. One of the new horses is Dottie, an 18-year old ASB who has spent her life being a champion kid’s horse. She’s won in the big-time at the 13&Under level. She is talented enough to be fancy, yet old enough to be steady. She’s great at taking care of her young riders. Since my mental age around the barn at the moment is 12 or less, she’s a wonderful horse for me right now.

I don’t like that I need an emotional support horse. But I do & she’s here. So, I’m trying to be okay with my good fortune. I will try not to get caught in the tailspin that is the inside of my head.

Thoughts Not To Have
(Obviously, I can’t let go of them completely. I feel the need to include them here. Maybe pinning them down will help me purge them.)

Why do I get on better with the older ASBs – Dottie, Sam, Willie, Alvin, Big – rather than the younger – Desi, Lola? Why is that? What does it say about me as a rider? Am I such a weak rider that I can only ride well-educated school horses?

Why am I a such hot mess about riding? Why am I like this? How can I fix it?

Riding Dottie does not address, much less answer, my underlying issues. I’ve simply lucked into a very nice horse who fits within the narrow parameters of what I can cope with.

Sometimes it’s hard to accept when things go well. Why is that?

Thought To Put In Place Of The Above
Go Dottie!

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

The Old Grey Mare

Recently, someone asked if my meltdown with saddle seat riding [Sine Die, Pondering] might be related to menopause. I know one reader has had this issue (waves hi), wherein doubt takes over from certainty. A legitimate question. I’m gonna say no.

I’ve always been a weenie about riding. Some days, with some horses, when the planets align, I can gallop my fool head off. After one Academy Driving class with Big [Show Photos], Miss Courtney had to remind me, ‘This is not a chariot race.’ Other days, not so much brio.

I’ve never been much of a hormone storm. Of course, I can get cranky and bitchy and unpleasant, but it tends to be in reaction to what I think rather than what is happening physically. Either I have a low hormone level or am so emotionally repressed that the hormonal response is squashed along with everything else. I’ve always lived too much in my head.

Or I could be deluded. I’ve known more than one person to say, “I am X.”, to which my unspoken response is ‘Really? Seriously? That’s how you see yourself? Yowzah.’

Or I could simply be alone too much. No deep psychological problems; rather a lack of contact with the outside world. (Which is one reason I talk to you every day.) Work at home. Horses at home. Surrounded by neighbors who see the world differently than I do. In absence of external data, my over-active brain feeds on itself.

If there is a problem, I think it is more mid-life crisis than menopause. I’m almost 55. What do I have to show for it? Even if I spot myself the first 20+ years, that’s three decades of adulthood: frantic activity, good times, but no big-ticket milestones. No one thing that I can point to and say, There, that’s what I did with my life so far.

I chose not to raise a family. My career never took off. Ditto my hobby. I don’t have an advanced degree. I have not immersed myself in art or charity. Yes, I have a long, wonderful marriage, but that speaks more to my winning the husband stakes than to my stellar qualifications as a wife. My life has been a string of amazing opportunities. My follow-through has been less impressive.

Yes, I should look forward to the next 20 years (1? 40? Who knows?) instead of looking back over the last 40. When I figure out how to do this, I’ll let you know.

What does this have to do with horses? The realization that you are not the person you though you were. You still feel as you did, but results do not support your inflated opinion of yourself.

And then, of course, the guilt [A Look Inside My Head]. Always the guilt.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Pondering the Hiatus

Saddle Seat Wednesday

All along, I’ve been saying that I will stay with saddle seat. So why did I feel the need to wander off [Sine Die]?

Proximate Cause
At my most recent lesson, I was offered a choice of two horses to ride, both new to me. I had no desire to ride either one. This is normal for me. I warm up slowly to new horses. Always have.

Once I got on, I just wanted it to be over. This is not normal for me, nor is it a good way to be on a horse. That’s when I decide a break was called for.

Short-Term Causes
At Mid-South this year, I had my best saddle seat show ever [Show Report]. Although I missed sweeping my classes, it was still my best show in terms of attitude and showmanship. I’ve had some great lessons. The good show and the good rides were all on Sam.

My lessons and shows with everyone else have been horrid. I’m not talking, ‘Poor me, I didn’t ride as well as I wanted.’ At ProAm [Show Report], my problems were so obvious that one of the adult novices wondered what had happened to me.

I have no explanation for that degree of difference.

Long-Term Causes
New horses. Always a weakness for me.
Mares. Ditto.
Reconciling dressage and saddle seat lessons.
Not the 6-week break over the summer. That would be logical but my terrible ride on Bingo was before and my wonderful lesson on Sam was after.

When I look back, I see this was not sudden. My saddle seat has been disintegrating since the end of Winter Tournament.
[Graduating From Sam] Riding Desi
[Show Report: Riding at ProAm 2017, or Showing Without My Security Blanket I] Showing Desi
[Styling, Or Not] Wondering Why
[Show Report: Dixie Cup 2017] Showing Mr. Whizbang
[Back To Kindergarten] Regrouping on Sam
[Where The Rot Sets In]
[Show Report: Mid-South Spring Premiere 2107, Riding] Showing Sam
[Anatomy of a Snit] Riding Bingo
[Getting a Grip, or Not] Wonder Why, again
[Getting a Grip, Proof of Concept] It works … on Sam
[Sine Die Saddle Seat] It doesn’t work

Coach Courtney thinks I am getting myself in a state about the show bridle [Different Versions of the Same Thing]. Correct, but a symptom rather than a cause.

Underlying Cause
My summer problems come from Rodney breaking my heart yet again [Recap]. To suffer disappointment, one has to have hope. I would have said I had no hope left. I would have said that any spark had been throughly stomped after all these years. Then, I look past the confusion to my gorgeous, kind, talented horse, and a small voice whispers ‘… maybe … ‘

This is an acute manifestation of a chronic situation. I’ve said it before [Nerves Update, April 2016], my problems with saddle seat won’t get fixed until I come to terms with the home team, one way or another.

I’m not gone forever, or even for now. Miss Courtney is being a huge help with Milton’s driving. I’ll start riding the new horses, and the mares, and Bingo when I get self sorted out and am safe to ride.

Bottom Line
I’ll be back. Once I get my head screwed on right.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Why Watching Milton Drive Makes Me Cranky

Enough about them [Maiden Voyage!, Milton Drives On], what about me? When we get home from a drive, I am exhausted; partly physical, mostly mental. I said as much after Kentucky [Repercussions]. Here’s why.

Base Emotions
I have never gotten clear on the difference between envy & jealousy. Maybe it’s neither. I don’t want what he has. I don’t want him not to have it. It’s more along the lines of seeing someone eat a candy bar and thinking, ‘That’s looks yummy. Can I have some?’

They Also Serve
Running around being Wonder Groom reminds me that I’m good at what I don’t want, and not good at what I do want. As a career, I should have been a barn manager, or an operating room nurse, or a theatrical dresser. You know, the person working quietly behind the scenes to make sure the rider/doctor/star has what they need to perform. Unfortunately, I have too much ego. I don’t want to be unsung support staff. I want to be center stage, whether or not I have the talent.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Milton is a big, gray reminder of my failure. I want to be happy that he likes driving, but he was supposed to be my riding horse, d*mm*t.

Bottom Line
So that’s me. Perky on the outside. Petty on the inside.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott