Tryon Schooling Daze

I know my riding journal has been on hold but THIS RAINY WEATHER IS KILLING ME. It  ALWAYS rains before my lessons and then I can’t ride. However, I was able to take Chloe on a field trip to Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) for a Saturday schooling day a few weekends ago. For a schooling fee, you can have entire use of the TIEC facility. Luckily my barn is only 1.5 hours away so we took a trailer full of horses and did group lessons. We are so lucky to have this center so close! I think field trips help break up the monotony for the horses and also give you a chance to practice in new settings.

If you follow me on Insta, you know that I was super nervous about doing this. The whole thing is too close to going to a show for me mentally, and I was getting very anxious. Not to mention that Chloe was a bit fresh, coming off multiple days of weather-related rest. When we got there and signed in, I was in a semi-panic and noticeably a few shades paler according to Jackie! Yes, I know I have problems!!

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), Chloe is uber sensitive to my feelings and vibes, so as soon as I sat on her I could feel my own anxiety spread throughout her. Tryon’s rings are similar to some at WEF, where they are set below the pedestrian walkways and spectator seating. All the noises come from above the horses in the rings, and sometimes you can’t see the people (just hear them talking or moving about), and for a horse that was already feeding off my nervous energy, these invisible predators made it worse. I started hacking around and trying to calm myself down through controlled breathing, ignoring Chloe when she would jump at every noise. After a few laps I realized that it was silly to not try earplugs. We got some from the trailer and after a few dramatic head tosses, she never flinched a muscle at any sound or movement. She was very focused on me alone and I was able to (partially) relax.

I always think Chloe is best behaved at the show. I think it might be out of self preservation more than a desire to please me, but she always is more responsive to my cues when we are not at home. The spooky, silly stuff she can do at home, typically never happens elsewhere. At TIEC, she did not disappoint me. She was fantastic, especially for not showing since October. I really couldn’t have asked for anything more from her. I wasn’t too bad. I did a bunch of amateur mistakes but I was happy that I made myself jump around and most importantly, I really tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and relax. I don’t have many pics or videos to share, but I did manage to find two cellphone videos of different segments of the day.

Keeping in mind that I am REALLY stepping outside of my comfort zone sharing these videos bc I am seriously the most critical person when it comes to riding. I cringe and die inside watching these. CRINGE. It is a reminder of how far I need to still go, BUT I can totally hear Helen, Taylor and Melina yelling at me right now (from LE, ECE, MPM)  to be more positive and not so ridiculous. I am trying, which is the most important thing, and unfortunately riding a handful of times a month is really all I can do right now until nicer weather comes around. BUT I CAN ONLY IMPROVE! 🙂

This first video is what I felt like was the worst series of jumps of the day, so I am actually pretty thankful I have it on video to learn from. I can definitely tell that it is at the very beginning of the ride because I am so tense. It cracks me up too because 1. Chloe is being an angel while I am hanging in her mouth and 2. I thought I was going so much faster than this. So thankful for this video!

 

Second video is in a different ring and it’s just fun to see what it really looked like versus how it felt in my head. Chloe’s tail always is so sassy!

Chloe 1; Andrea 0.

PSA: the ground will be much harder each time you fall than it was the previous time. Despite the weather keeping me from lessoning for weeks, I was actually having a really enjoyable jumping lesson on Thursday. Chloe was definitely excitable but we pushed through it and kept working on putting 4-5 jumps/turns together. Towards the end of the lesson, I was coming to one of my last jumps, and I was already thinking ahead to the next part, when as we were in mid-air, Chloe ripped a huge buck. I was already in two-point, so when she landed the buck and crow hopped left, I just kept going straight…onto my face! I literally broke my fall with my face. I remember laying there thinking I knocked all my teeth out…and I could hear Chloe galloping around (farting). Jackie, my trainer, kept asking me if I was okay, and while I was physically okay, I did sort of want to cry. I got back on, jumped it a few more times, and it was fine. However, I could not get over that I fell off. I’ve had Chloe for 9 years and I’ve fallen off one other time (when she fell down herself in a freak accident) and while I realize that isn’t necessarily normal statistics, especially since 90% of Chloe’s riders fall off LOL,  I still wasn’t prepared for how much it hurt my confidence.

I also think I may need a new helmet because my helmet gave me a black/blue nose. Does anyone have any comments about that? I am assuming it is a sign that it doesn’t fit properly?

It is pouring today. 🙁

Andrea: My Mane Problem

Okay, despite my best efforts of trying to ride every Tues/Thurs, and maybe once on the weekend, the weather (closed arena) + cancelled lessons is getting the best of me. Today was the first day I was able to really ride Chloe in the last 2 weeks!!! AAHH!! Luckily she was SO GOOD and I had the best time riding her. It definitely made up for my lesson being cancelled! However, when I was cooling down, I snapped this picture of her. It is super embarrassing but worth sharing. I know 95% of you will totally see what I am talking about: the grass in her mane! It made me so sad when I was walking around because it is just yet another reminder of how rushed I am at the barn now. Years ago, that would never have happened. I appreciate the beauty of a well turned out horse, but I also truly believe that without it, you show lack of respect for the sport, and even worse, your horse. Anyway, it is dumb, but it really bummed me out to see such a glaring thing I missed before I hastily tacked up. Here’s hoping to the snow disappearing tomorrow so I can lesson! Wishful thinking!

 

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Andrea: First (fantastic) lesson of 2018!

I almost had to cancel my first lesson of 2018. I couldn’t believe it! Especially since I had just posted my first diary entry about crushing 2018! How embarrassing to have to tell you guys that I had to postpone my first ride of the year!

I woke up and even though it was 11 degrees, I was still very motivated for my lesson.  I was coming off a good weekend ride and I was really pumped to get back on Chloe. And then Logan, my 18 month old, threw up all over me. Twice. Luckily, she made a full recovery within 30 minutes and was back to eating like a horse (sorry Chloe) and playing with her toys. I bundled up and headed to the barn.

My lesson was fantastic! I feel like everything I have been working on since November (when I started my re-riding journey) came together and there were brief moments I felt like my old self…and felt like I was with my old teammate. It was one of the first times that I really enjoyed riding since 2014. Jackie, my trainer, and I were pretty happy.  And bonus, it was super cold and windy and as you know, winter is not Chloe’s season!

 

Andrea: What have I done?

In November 2017 I made a public promise that not only would I start to ride (for real) again, but that I would also commit to going to a horseshow in mid 2018. The problem is that people were actually listening (whattt?) and since then I have gotten many questions about this infamous first show back. The other problem is that I haven’t jumped a course in 4 years. The other problem is that I have zero confidence in my riding. The other problem is that Chloe, my horse, demands confidence…among many other things. The other problem is that my life has drastically changed in the last 4 years…

I now have two small children. Unless you have children this really means nothing to you and I understand that.  I used to roll my eyes at the whole “stay at home mom” thing too. But trust me, these babies suck the life right out of you. Yes, they definitely have their cute moments and I am happy that they exist, but frankly, being a mom is so challenging. It is the hardest thing I have ever attempted to do and this is coming from someone who is an ex-attorney. Everyone knows that being an attorney is the worst thing ever and I am telling you that sometimes I actually miss being an attorney. But really, if I am being honest, mostly I just miss my old life, especially the time I spent with Chloe. And you know what? I now realize that it is okay to say that. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my life or my kids. It just means that things have changed and so have I.

Over the last 3.5 years I haven’t done much riding at all – a tough adjustment when I rode 5 days a week for many years rain, snow or shine. I just haven’t had the time or, on the rare occasions I have had the time, the energy. Compounding the issue is that Chloe needs to be ridden 4+ times a week or else she is a fire breathing dragon. So when I did make it out there, it really wasn’t enjoyable. I didn’t even trust her to canter most of the time. The few lessons I did take were just reminders of how far we had regressed, so I started to avoid those too.

Why the sudden motivation? Well, my kids are 3 and 1, no longer completely helpless babies, so there is some light at the end of the tunnel there. My husband is awesome and we have a nanny two days a week – which means I can ride two days a week and pray for good weather on those days. I realize that 2 days doesn’t sound like much, but it is HUGE! Lastly, Chloe has a wonderful half-leaser, Dakota. Dakota rides Chloe the other 2-3 days a week that I do not and she is totally responsible for getting Chloe back into MENTAL shape. I can’t thank her enough.

So, back to the “what have I done”? This online diary is an attempt to hold myself accountable in my re-riding. I have met some pretty awesome equestrian entrepreneurs in my similar situations that have given me the support and encouragement to share my journey of getting show-ready. The perfectionist in me is terrified, but excited at the same time. I hope to be totally honest in my experiences because so often social media is a staged facade and people forget that for every pretty picture I post on Horse Glam, there were at least 50 others that made me and my photographer laugh or cringe! So buckle in for my re-riding reality. I can promise you it is going to involve many missed distances, more than a few “oh shits”, and numerous laughs. But it will be real, you can count on that.