Monday, June 17, 2013


Sigh...  A girls gotta tell a tale and that means a tale's gotta be told even if the tale is one she'd rather left untold...  just sayin,!  You see, this girl's got some demons and they do not make her feel pretty... 
Pretty is as pretty does...

"What", you say? " Demons?  Of course you have demons, 2/3rds of your writings have something sneaking about, so we know all about them..."

Fair enough!  {{{{Hmmmm, the Bestest Eventing Buddy did say that I am a bit too honest and should reveal less.... Hmmmm....}}}  .

Sugar and I just returned from our very own, very intimate Stressless Riding intensive.  No, you won't find a clinic description on the Stressless Riding website.  I applied and was awarded the  Area 1 Adult Riders scholarship that allowed me to design a clinic to help cope with the demons blocking our eventing future.  The application/details were documented in my earlier blog titled Winning!.

Day 1
The day to tell your tale, of what happened, what's been done, what's still going on and why it's feels so important.  We sat at a picnic table in the bright sun and I talked.  Andrea Waldo, with the wisdom of a therapist (and a Wise Woman), allowed me to go on and confess my fears - what people thought of me, what people would think of me, of being embarrassed, of being humiliated, of being abandoned by my trainers who might not want to teach such a "wimpy rider" and of never doing this again.  It was never about getting hurt...  fascinating!

Her advice was so simple - Notice your Story!  Question it!  Delete anything that isn't useful.
 So, what does that mean?  A story is something that hasn't happened yet.  It holds no truth because it is not in the moment.  My stories come fast and furious and most are not blog worthy... 
  • Sugar spooks at gates, lattice, green roll tops, barrels, anything with a pattern and so on...
  • Oh shoot, Sugar is running like an idiot in the paddock, she'll be lame, she is going to be so wound up that she'll be awful to ride...
  • My knee is aching, I'll never be able to ride well enough to jump
All of those came up and every single one of them was a story - The only truths that existed were that Sugar hadn't spooked yet, she was running in her paddock and my knee was aching AND nothing else was true!  DELETE everything but the truth.  Wow, that frees up a lot of space in my head.

And then we jumped. 
Gotta luf a hound!

Was it releasing all my pent up anxiety, emotion and fear that gave me a calmness that I haven't felt since I hit the tree?  I'm not sure but it felt glorious to jump my lil' Pinto Pony that afternoon, in a new place, with a new instructor after crying...  It felt glorious!

Day 2
Ah, revisiting my "Stories" and deleting all but the truth.  And that included the fret and worry about Sugar's paddock issues, embarrassment over sharing so much and worry that it would all go wrong.  Instead, I stuck with the truth.   I came to ride, jump and share all those thoughts that come hard and often...  The truth.
Ride your horse, make a statement, breathe deeply after every spook/every jump/every correction and stay calmly focused.
 And we jumped. 

Breathing deeply was the hardest of all tasks, even requiring me to ask Andrea to remind me to do so.  You could feel Sugar breathe and relax when I took a calming breath.  My two beat mantra, "Rhythm and Flow" went from a harsh demand to a soft song.  I felt powerful and it was good... until I hit dirt.

You see, I felt so confident, that I decided, without much thought, to throw in another jump.  I had no plan and realized as I approached the jump, that I didn't know where we were going, which way we needed to turn to avoid the jump poles in our path (ok, 5 strides away) and ...  and so on.  Sugar kept coming and I kept thinking until at the very last moment, I realized I had to do something.  Sigh, that something was...  um... leaning up her neck and trying to jump for her..  oops!
A Family Trip?

Andrea thought this was a great opportunity to work through the "What happens when you fall and dealing with its aftermath" issues.
Ride your horse, have a plan and with a horse like Sugar, focus on one thing - jumping the jump and clear your mind of everything else.

Day 3
My Stories started early that morning.  My back was sore from the fall and I was sure I wouldn't be able to finish the clinic.  Then I realized - Story.  And I deleted all but the facts -  I was tired and my back was sore. 

And we jumped.

Today did not feel powerful.  Sugar was conservative jumping and I felt weak.  It wasn't ugly or bad. It just wasn't great.  Andrea had us jump around a bit with a few things new.  When Sug rushed the square oxer, I wanted to be done.  I had enough and my anxiety was climbing.  I wanted to be done.

So, I asked Andrea if we could be done.  (If you are my trainer reading this, you know this is not new).  Andrea said we could stop but wanted me to express what was going on.  The conversation went like this:

Me - "I'm tired and I want to quit before it gets worse."

Andrea - "What does that mean to you?"

Calmly Focused
Me - "I want to end on a good note and whenever I push myself (or be pushed), it always ends with me getting hurt and it never ends well."

Andrea - "Is that story or is it true?"

Me - "It always happens that way."  {{{pause, breath, pause}}}  "Ok, when I broke my wrist, that was the first day." {{{Pause}}} "And my ankle was at the beginning and it was a spook. And the other ankle injury was in the middle of a great lesson.  And the tree was at the beginning of the course.  {{{laugh}}} You're right, it's a story and not true."

Andrea - "If you quit when your anxiety level went up, you teach your mind and body that the only release is to quit.  Anxiety will only heighten.  What is one thing you can do to be successful?"

Me - "I could do that line."

Andrea - "That's a forward two or a calm three.  Today you and Sugar are doing it in 2.5, could you make a plan to do it in 2 or 3?"

Me - "I can do it in 3."

And we jumped... 3 perfect strides calmly focused on a pleasant pony.  And I smiled.  I totally understood exactly what she meant and why it was so important not to quit "while ahead" when our anxiety was shooting upward.

I could go on with the lessons I learned and maybe will in another post.  For now, you've either thought, "Hey, good stuff!" or, well...  you aren't even reading this line.  This clinic was a powerful learning tool for me.  I was able to talk about my issues, in the moment and have a professional who is also an instructor question my reality at the moment it happened.  Truly a powerful experience.

Demons exist in the stories we tell ourselves...  The purpose of this clinic was to reach into the places they dwell and expose them to the light.  Huge thanks to Andrea Waldo for having the tools to help exorcise them. 


SheMovedtoTexas said...

This is really helpful for me to read. I'm a story teller too :)

eventer79 said...

Wow, this is really neat! Thanks for sharing -- I tend to be include way too many details in everything and overthink, so I can identify with that. I got worried in the middle, but was so glad to read the great ending. Hopefully it's not an ending at all, but a graduated step to the next of many successes!

Hannah said...

This post makes me soooooo happy. Thank you for sharing!

T Myers said...

Thanks for sharing, some great advice in there. Glad you were able to get over some fences :)

Emmi said...

Hey there, I nominated you for a Liebster Award! Here is the link:

redheadlins said...

what lovely advise!

Melissa-ParadigmFarms said...

Super post, thanks for sharing about your clinic. I think we ALL have our stories that we tell, and not just when riding our horses!

Dangerbunny said...

I have nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award! it's fun stuff.

Liz Goldsmith said...

Great advice. Sounds like it was a very productive clinic.

Checkmark115 said...

I totally am admitting I didnt read this post yet, BUT I WILL.

I DID thminate you for the Liebster award htough....though it seems 2 others have already haha