I don't know if you remember, but I was having some serious confidence issues in my riding that were leaving me incredibly frustrated and disheartened...
Super frustrated with myself...
I think too much when I ride.
I finally swallowed my pride and talked to my trainer about it...sort of. I definitely didn't tell her about the panic attacks and being near tears and stuff...but I let her know that I had NO confidence in my eye and was started to assume Scooter was going to stop...
So we kept it simple. Really, really simple. The first half of the lesson was spent just cantering one itty bitty 2' vertical, focusing on letting the distance come to me and NOT opening my hip angle on the approach (bad habit left over from Fry's box of crazy, I think). Then we moved on to a very simple "course" of two single jumps and one line.
Once I managed to stop overloading my mind with everything that could go wrong, it was really, really nice. As in...so nice that my trainer snuck some of the jumps up on me when I wasn't looking. By the end of the lesson, I was doing 3' on Scooter. Without any stops.
That has NEVER happened before. The only other time the jumps hit 3' with him, I fell off and landed on my head. But...not only did we get over 3', but we actually looked kind of nice! I actually trusted my eye on him and rode for distances, and since I didn't drop him at the base, he jumped!
Then, in the lesson after that, I jumped Scooter 3' AGAIN. Granted, it was in a small gymnastic line, but I'm still happy! I saw her put the jumps up, knew they were set at 3', and I didn't let my fear stop me from jumping through it. We had one stop that lesson, which I think makes me happier than jumping 3' because I DIDN'T MELT. He stopped, we came back to it, and I kept my leg on and got us through the gymnastic line, even though it was awkward and he was sucking back (poor old man didn't realize it was a gymnastic until a few strides out ahaha - I think it startled him).
My trainer told me that the way I rode in that lesson was the best she's ever seen me look on Scooter, in all the years I've ridden with her I think it finally clicked that I can keep my hip angle at a reasonable angle and not fall off if he does happen to die out, haha. Better yet, I think I finally realized that I CAN stop him from refusing a fence :)
In the grand scheme of things, a few 3' jumps isn't a HUGE accomplishment, but I'm still proud. I'll admit that I was kind of upset when I first started riding Scooter in my lessons - he was old(er), small(er), and not a horse I'd had to ride for a few years. Not to mention the fact that I had several deep-seated mental blocks pertaining to him and his formerly dirty stops. However, the past few months on him have certainly brought my ego down and my skill level up. He's a complete sweetheart, and even being 17 yrs old and blind in one eye, is teaching me more about being a rider vs. a passenger than I would have ever expected.
I'll also admit that I was feeling a bit pissy about being stuck at the "small" jumps while the girls I rode with (who are probably some of the best riders in the barn) were moving up with their horses to 3', 3'6", 4'. However, I kind of let that go and realized that they don't care that I don't jump as big or fast as them. They're amazingly supportive and after my first 3' course a few weeks ago, they spent the rest of the night congratulating me and telling everyone at the barn how awesome it was :) We've also taken to reading over George Morris' book like it's the bible, sitting in various stalls with horses and debating over lateral aids vs. diagonal aids :p
I'm sure I'll have bad rides again, but I think I really needed these lessons to prove to myself that I am capable of riding through my fear.
I love my barn. I love the riders, horses and trainers. *sigh* Of course my trainer and the barn owner leave on Saturday to take the big guys down to Ocala for a month of showing, and I'm not entirely sure who I'll be riding with...but still. It's all good.
Also, I really need to get someone to record me riding some time soon. The most recent video I have of Scooter and I is from last January :p My hip angle issue is SO prominent here!
Also, we're rather unphotogenic.
So. Yeah. Sorry for the novel, but for the first time in a long time, I'm really excited about riding and actually see myself progressing! Thank you, Scooter!