So, it’s no secret that I have an eternal struggle with anxiety – in all areas of life, not just riding, really. It seems that lately, the Anxiety Monster has crept back up and put itself on steroids. Steroids are bad, yo.
I recently had a group jump lesson with Mandy and her adorable new horse Rowdy. Seriously, cute guy. We were to school some XC at home, and went into the big jump ring first to do some jumping there to warm up. Ollie has historically been his dumbest in that ring for some reason, so what did I do? Immediately went into “OMG PANIC. ABORT EVERYTHING.” mode. As is useful, of course.
Just flatting, I felt myself get tense at the first hint of looky-ness and snorty breathing…. which made me choke up on the reins, piss Ollie off and invite him to be naughty. As we were going over little tiny jumps, I became panicky and pulled back on him going into the jump when he was going at an appropriate trot into the X… but at the time I did not realize that it was an appropriate pace. In my anxiety-ridden pea brain, I might as well have been running the Kentucky Derby, we were rushing so much.
So we took a step back and Maggie, the awesome trainer that she is, worked me through some of the shiz. Granted, Ollie started pulling some of his “no-turny” shenanigans, so it wasn’t *all* me messing up. Take a look.
Yeah, a basic working trot felt like OMG FAST. Wow, Wendy. Wow.
But what I’ve come to realize is Ollie pulls his crap when *I* am not feeling confident. And here I am, having been asking him for years to move at a pace other than molasses – and when he now finally does it, I go “OMG DON’T DO THAT. SCARY SCARED. WENDY SCARED. BAD HORSE.” Then I tell him to move faster again later and then go OMG NO NO NO NO. I’m certain that’s infuriating to him. Basically, I need to reset my brain to what “normal” should feel like, and ride accordingly, instead of adjusting my riding to my panic button. Stupid button. It’s way too easy to hit it.
I got my brain under control a bit, and we went into the XC field and did a few jumps there. I even let him canter away into the field a bit. It was decided it would be best for me to take a few lessons on a good-hearted easy-going horse for a while for me to get ME under control so I can ride Ollie more effectively. That’s my next update 🙂
But in the meantime, I am realizing my anxiety monster was in charge just a bit too much. I had my vitamin D levels checked, and they were low – and that can increase anxious symptoms. I also had been off my anxiety meds for some time (I KNOW, I KNOW. WHY YOU SO STUPID, WENDY? WHY YOU DO THAT, CRAZY LADY?) and am now back on them.
I can already tell a difference. I think Ollie can too.