Monday, 16 March 2015

Insanity

Sunday's clinic ride just kind of stunk in general. I was really not on my A game, and have to admit I went into the morning with kind of a negative attitude based on the previous day's experience.

I really need to listen to my instincts, because they were bang on regarding Bridget. If you remember, she tried her heart out on day 1, but I felt like a lot of the exercises and expectations were too big of an ask for her, and I was lucky she was willing to try so hard and humor me and that riding her like that was not a sustainable prospect at this point in time. I was right in thinking that, since she came into the lesson just mentally 'done' with the whole thing. We rode in the outdoor today, so there were a few more distractions, but I don't feel like that was the problem. Pony was more just like 'What more do you want? What more can I possibly give you that I haven't already?' and just kind of gave up. She was right of course, because horses never lie to us. She really had nothing left to give or prove. I was a better person I would have just given her the day off.


Just some recent random pics to break the text wall. I didn't get any photos from the weekend. (yes, pony's lead rope isn't tied - she ground ties so I get lazy about leaving it under her feet once in a while)
I told the instructor that I felt like pony was tired mentally and physically from the previous day, so we agreed to run through some of the walk trot tests to give me practice without doing anything too taxing for the baby pony. Sounds good!...oh, but after we get that right lead canter depart again. Hmmm. OK, I guess. (Here is where I should have just stuck to my guns and said NO ) So for the next 45 minutes or so, we did the same exercise over and over and over again. (10m counterbent circle to a canter depart and continue on the circle in canter) At first Bridget was like "I don't understand" and then I was like "this is much too complicated" and then we both were like "We can't do this, we give up, this is stupid and we hate life". And we both ended up frustrated with the situation. I kid you not, in all that we got exactly two strides of right lead canter. It just wasn't working for either of us, yet for whatever reason I kept being a robot and blindly interpreting the instructions the best I could. I'll admit to probably being all wrong and sucking at the interpretation too. My pony is a saint. I deserved to be left in the dirt. Pony shut down mentally and we lost the steering, we lost the forward, we lost any attempt at having any contact. I'm hoping I will be forgiven when I ride next and we didn't just take a huge step back.

After my ride, a friend came up and before any other comments asked "How does that saying go about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?' I love her, she summed it up best. Insanity, pure and simple.

While I did pick up a ton of tips and useful information, I don't feel like this particular clinician's teaching style suits me or Bridget and I likely won't be back for the next clinic in June. It's a shame because she's a contemporary of one of my favorite trainers ever (they even studied under the same rider for many years). Personalities are such a huge thing - she seems like a nice person, but she's very assertive as a coach. I get a bit weird about people shouting or running me or my horse down as a coaching style...rather than making me more motivated, or even really emotional at all, I just kind of shut down mentally and don't take the person overly seriously, which is unfortunate. I can handle fair criticism, but there has to be some positives or encouragement now and then for me to benefit. She wasn't as harsh with others, so I am left wondering a bit what the problem was. I don't want to sound at all like "oh poor me, I got picked on" because I don't overly care about that, more I just don't understand the motivation behind it or what the clinician was really looking for me to do differently.


We trailered both ponies home last night and they were SO happy to get off the trailer and be at home. When we let them out to the pasture there was a big happy reunion and lots of running around. Except Bridget - she did a courtesy circle with her pals and came running back to me and stood by my side and watched the antics until I had to leave. Guys, I seriously cried then. Maybe I read too much into it, but I feel like in her mind we must still be partners, even after such an awful week. I have no idea how horses can be so forgiving.

11 comments:

  1. Such an unfortunate adventure. Sigh. But I guess we take that chance when we do different clinics, right? And I will never understand how horses can be so forgiving. They are such amazing creatures.

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    1. It's always a bit of a leap of faith. In this case even if I had audited first I might have still ridden in a future clinic. The majority of the riders had helpful lessons and were pleased with her and she's very knowledgeable. Oh well, If nothing else, pony and I apparently bonded over our awfulness :)

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  2. That's so disappointing :( Well you got a few more tools/tip in your toolbox and learned the important lesson that this trainer is not for you!

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    1. I couldn't be more disappointed - clinics are so few and far between here and I feel like such a failure for not being able to suck it up and make it work somehow! But yes, I did learn a lot from auditing other's lessons, particularly the mock tests.

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    2. I don't think any good instructor should make you feel like a failure. I had a horrible experience with an instructor (who I stuck it out with for over three months) and I'm still recovering! My new instructor tells me some things that I do correctly and gives me constructive criticism in small pieces. My previous horrible instructor yelled a million things I was doing wrong at once and I totally shut down. It's supposed to be educational but it's also supposed to be fun!

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  3. This sounds a lot like my previous instructor. That line between pushing someone for their best work and yet still trusting when that person feels like something is too hard would be tough.

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    1. Agreed, I think it would be very difficult! And you've hit the nail on the head. My first lesson started out fairly easy and friendly, then got harder, and harder, and after, rather than feeling like an accomplished and happy, it was more like 'thank goodness we survived that!' I'm a fairly calm, introverted person so perhaps she took that as me being more serious/determined and comfortable with things than I really am. It has to be hard to walk into a brand new situation and accurately evaluate everyone!

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  4. i'm sorry it wasn't a great clinic experience - i definitely really struggle with that type of instruction (and once left a lesson never to return when the trainer dismissed my concerns and kept pushing when it was clearly beyond my abilities or even general safety)... and i've never been one of those riders who liked trainers who made them cry regularly... i need to feel encouraged and motivated, ya know?

    anyways, i'm glad the mares are all settled back in at home - and have no doubt that Bridget will continue to be your awesome little pony partner in all your future adventures :)

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  5. I am sorry you had a bad experience. I went to a groundwork clinic like that 2 years ago where I just felt useless, and mildly alarmed at the stuff he was doing to my lease horse. It is a crappy feeling to look back and know you should have put your foot down, but when you are in the middle of it, it is so difficult!! It sounds like Bridget did really well all things considered.

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  6. Sorry the clinic didn't go better for you :-(

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  7. Such a disappointment, I am.so sorry that things didn't change for day 2. I think teachers should be able to work on the fly, evaluate what is happening before that and change the methods if what they first suggested isn't working. How frustrating it must have been for you and B, completely understand you both going into mental shut down.
    How adorable that she came to stand by you as the others hooned around - equines are just the best

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