A frustrating Sunday

*sigh* So I did it again, ended up in tears, had to leave the riding school to wash my face at the loos and just have some time out before coming back in. This is now getting quite, quite boring and I imagine that’s true for the girls in my class – they are lovely and very supportive of my nerves. There was nothing that Am did that seem to have massively affect me but the whole lesson felt off and wrong, I couldn’t get her moving and she felt irritated by me throughout. But in my new headspace of trying to focus on the positives I will give the couple that I can think of:

  • I did do some nice leg yielding on Am
  • Got a lovely trot by then end

I very nearly felt ready to give up it all! I did try to cancel my lesson for next week but the girls and the new instructor talked me out of it. After lots of chat (again thanks to everyone) I have decided to work out a way to try and stop my nerves growing, instead what I might try is to walk in circles and leg yield rather than just get in my own head, take some time out from the lesson rather than focus on what I am going to try to do. Apparently I will be riding Td or Tx next week, which might help but it frustrates me with Am as I have never had an issue with her before. But I am still focusing on the fact that I CAN ride, I know I CAN ride and I ENJOY it. Bring it on next weekend, better news then πŸ™‚

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10 thoughts on “A frustrating Sunday”

  1. I’m sorry to hear that your riding is frustrating you. I’ve got a lot of questions, because I’m wondering what exactly is causing you to feel this way (I’m sure you’re wondering the same thing!).
    If you really want to analyse the situation, I’d suggest thinking about the last few times you’ve felt really anxious and consider what has happened before what happened happened (that is: what led to this? is there a pattern?) to help you try and establish the cause, rather than just looking at the result (in this situation, that you got upset, dismounted and walked away). Once you’ve figured out whether or not there’s a pattern, you can begin to address it.
    I don’t think there’s any sense in going backwards: I went to a talk by a behaviourist recently who scotched the common riding instructor wisdom that you just have to push through and stop being a wimp, he said “your confidence [or lack thereof] is keeping you alive” – he preached instead that, sometimes, it’s ok to say “not today” and either go home or do something else. Sometimes, pushing through and just getting on with it is the right thing to do – become a good judge of your own limits (and also the genuine danger rating of a situation) and work accordingly. If something’s going to do you more harm than good physically OR mentally, leave it, but come back to it later or in another session. If it’s not going to harm you and you’re capable, then try it. If you’re going to focus instead on work in gaits that you’re comfortable in, aim to still progress. I’ve seen a lot of riders (and BEEN that rider) who instead of moving forward just ambles around in a walk and doesn’t achieve anything other than sitting on the horse. Yes, you have to do stuff you’re comfortable with, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn or develop anything new. Ask for new exercises, or what you should be thinking about in terms of advancing your riding (paying attention to your horse’s movement, working up the scales of training etc).
    My biggest piece of advice however, would be to move out of the group lessons if you can. Group lessons are great, as long as you’re in the right frame of mind. My instinct is that part of you is worrying about holding the group back, and that might hold you back too. Gain some confidence alone, lap up some complete attention and then go back to the group. It’s great to be able to watch other people work and learn from them, as well as having the motivation and feedback of others in a group. But when you’re so fragile, I think private is better if you can.
    Lastly, although it’s impossible to put time limits on riding and improvement, I would also say this: if you’re still not enjoying it (this is your LEISURE time, an activity FOR YOURSELF which you are spending your hard-earned money on and devoting precious free time to), then change it. If after a month or so, nothing has improved with the instructor, say something. Know how you feel, tell them clearly (it doesn’t have to be nasty), “I want to do X and it’s not happening, can you explain why that is?” It may be that they know your goal and are working on the steps to get you there but haven’t told you what is happening and why. They may be completely unaware. If you feel comfortable continuing to give them a chance, do so. But if you feel that your enjoyment is suffering, then walk away. Find somewhere else.
    I hope this helps in some way, and I really hope that you can conquer this and enjoy riding every time you get on a horse πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for this comment, I really appreciate it. Unfortunately I can’t get privates at the weekends at this place although I am on holiday in a couple of weeks and will try for one then. I would agree that I am not in a great frame of mind for the group lessons but what I might do is try very much to focus on myself and my horse next week not on everything else. The new exercises is a good idea too, I might see if I can modify exercises and focus on moving my trot forward. The analysis part is always the trickier bit – the actual why. I will think and see if a pattern emerges from my anxiety, I feel another post coming on! Thanks again.

  2. I think Becky makes a good point about maybe trying a private lesson – it’s much easier to say ‘No. Can we work on something else right now?’ when you know the lesson is just for you. I don’t do well in group lessons because I don’t feel in control and don’t feel I can refuse to do things. l get much more from one private lesson a month than several groups.

    1. Yup you make brilliant points but currently I can’t get a private at the weekend. I feel that having new people in my group has thrown me a bit with my ability to refuse! My regular group all seemed to spot something was up today, one lass recognised it before I did! I reckon I am going to just go and almost pretend I am in a private, next week I need to just focus on me. Thanks for the comment, really appreciate it.

      1. Yeah it is annoying but hopefully get one in a couple of weeks buy by that point I will be being so positive it hurts! πŸ˜‰

  3. Steph you CAN ride and you are a good rider! Please remember that and tell yourself this before our lesson. Think how far you have come…..! If you feel the nerves coming back, give me a shout and i would be happy to go to one end of the school with you and make sure you are ok. I find it frustrating at times too with the extra bodies…..i loved our ‘special’ group as it was and find it to be too busy when there are 6 riders! Lets try get the fun back! x

    1. Thanks Juli-Anna, I am trying to be positive for Sunday. Yeah I feel it has gotten a little busy at the minute in the school too. I will definitely take you up on that offer, I thought I might say at the start that if I need to I will remove myself from a bit of the lesson and work on something else – even just trotting, control the pace with my rising etc so that I don’t go into one of my spirals. Sunday will be fun, I am going to be on better form πŸ™‚ x

  4. I’m very sorry to read that your riding experiences have been frustrating you this much of late. I just wanted to add (which I don’t think any of the others have already said) that the fact that you don’t ever just give it all up entirely in spite of the occasional difficulties you have and the emotional impact on you they have really goes to show what a brave and tenacious person you are. Even if there isn’t anything else you can think of when you’re trying to focus on the positives, please always try to remember that! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, it is a really nice thing to read. I donҀ™t often think of things that way, I focus on the fact that I have these nerves rather than thinking that I have these nerves but continue to do it. It might take a while but I would like to change that way of thinking about my riding and my behaviour. Thanks for making me smile Ҙº

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