photo by
Tales of Taco the Wonder Horse and his ammy rider on their way to a Training Three Day

Monday, April 12, 2010

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

It's been some time since my last post, mainly because my job (yes, actual history professoring-- I have to pay the bills somehow) has kept me quite busy.  In addition to the usual teaching prep and grading I've gone over the copyediting for my book (Fedexed out today!) and gone to Washington, DC for a conference.  But I digress...

Taco is his usual gorgeous self, and is full of energy in the spring weather.  Ideally, I'd be preparing for the Area III championships right now.  However, I probably don't need to tell the readers of this blog that competing is expensive, and my competition budget is rather tiny at the moment.  We have big competitions planned for later in the year, including the American Eventing Championships (AECs) and of course our Training Three Day.  I also want to do an event camp in early July at Come Again Farm in Indiana, with Peter Atkins, Dorothy Crowell, and Holly Hepp Hudspeth.  So I am having to make some hard choices about shows in the immediate future, including the Area III Champs. 

Given the revised show schedule, then, I need to concentrate on practicing, practicing, practicing.  I need to keep a consistent connection in my flatwork so that I don't rush him in the test.  Jumping, I'm still working on my *&$%! right leg and the same connection that I need in dressage.  As Wofford is fond of saying, "practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect."

The problem with this is that I am far more easily distracted at home.  Without the pressures of a competitive situation, unwanted thoughts and anxieties show up.  Witness, for example, the I hate wind post from a couple of weeks ago.  I got over my fear of Tidbit the miniature horse, but there will always be something for me to fret over (today it was having my right stirrup tied to the girth again).  My task is to focus in on my job despite the distractions, just as I would at a show.  I feel that I have made some progress, but if anyone has suggestions or experiences to share on this topic, please comment!

 Tidbit doesn't scare us!

Despite the above challenges, my practicing has been going fairly well.  On Easter Sunday I decided to try jumping again.  This time it went better.  We conquered the crossrail...
(See that right leg?  Damn!)

and then a few other little fences.

I've felt like we've done some good flatwork in the last week, too.

I had a mini-breakthrough when I realized that I've been riding with my right hip always cocked forward, which is sending my right leg back.  I go to the chiropractor on Wednesday and will ask her about this.  In the meantime I've been bringing my right hip back every time I think about it, with some good results.

Today I had a lesson and, as I mentioned above, my stirrup got tied to the girth again.  And I broke the string three times!  I think Amy was a little annoyed, especially when I freaked out each time she tied it up again.  But I freaked out far less than I had in our previous lesson, so that was progress.  Taco was plenty fresh, since he hasn't been jumping so often in recent weeks, so she suggested that I jump over something twice a week, preferably at a balanced, rhythmic canter.  I find that it is helpful for me to pretend I am in an equitation class and that I have to make smooth, but effective, adjustments between fences.

I know that a few Team Taco fans will be disappointed about Area III Champs, but look for an improved Team Taco at shows this summer and fall!  Until then...

1 comment:

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

At least you're only having one stirrup leather tied to the girth. I've had a trainer feel the need to do it to BOTH of my leathers in the past! I probably need it done again to be honest. :)