G had set up a gymnastic on the quarter line. It consisted of a pole to a small cross-rail to a one stride (with a pole in the middle) to boxes. I dislike gymnastics. Which is huge step up from the flaming hatred I had for them a year ago. My issue with gymnastics stems from a particularly bad lesson I had (
a million 13 years ago) with my old horse.
I seem to recall that gymnastic was set up as a bounce, bounce, one stride. Or in my case bounce, bounce, duck out, face plant. Fun times it was not! My coach at the time kept having me get back on and go back through it without changing anything or helping to solve the problem. Which meant I had a lot of face plants that day. I don’t think that we ever made it through that line. The lesson ended with me yelling at my coach that riding was supposed to be fun and this was not fun. I felt like an ass for yelling, but I feel like if the situation had been handled just a little differently by my coach we might have been successful that day.
Needless to say after that ride I had huge anxiety with gymnastics. Then just over a year ago now I started riding more seriously again and my coaches kept forcing me to do gymnastics. And I guess with repetition I got a little more comfortable with them. I still have that moment of panic I probably always will. But Tucker is a good boy, as long as I keep the leg on and support with contact he picks his way through without complaint.
So G had us do a gymnastic with a warning that we HAD TO TROT IN or there wouldn’t be enough room for the one stride on the out. Gulp. And then it was fine. We trotted in, I kept the contact, I stayed up and I kept the leg on through the whole thing. And then he made us do it again and again and again and at the start of every course all night. And it was fine every time.
The problem with anxiety and fear is that they’re hard to get rid of. It doesn’t matter how much logic you through at them. It doesn’t matter how much you love and trust your horse. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat an exercise or how comfortable you are in the moment. It’s always there in the background waiting to rear its ugly head the next time you step in the ring and see the dreaded gymnastic set up. Conquering fear is hard.
Takeaway: Maybe gymnastics aren’t so bad (yeah right!), Tucker is getting better with his suppleness, ride with more rhythm, keep the contact and his poll raised. BREATH!