I’m going to have to conduct a sub-study on whether or not radio-silence on blogs correlates with great leaps of progress in thesis. I redid an analysis last week, experimented with a few different ways of looking at my data, ultimately settled on thresholding at a different level, got a better result, and then wrote sixteen pages on Monday. I guess I really “re-wrote” sixteen pages, as it was revisions to a chapter I already had a draft of but… whatevs.
Anyway, to do that I kinda had to reserve my writing juju for my thesis and not use it up here. While writing here every day has definitely made writing easier, it seems that I have a finite amount of writing resources and I can’t fritter them away on blogging. Or more realistically, I probably do better when I’m not distracted by all the cool and wonderful things happening in the horsey blog world. My absence made my heart quite fond, though.
Murray and I have been riding our own little rollercoaster lately. We had an absolutely fantastic jump lessons where, despite being a little bit concerned about some new fences out there, Murray was jumping everything in stride and really listening to me. I could ask for the add, I could ask for the long spot, I could get him to go over something even when he was like “err that might eat me?” It felt AMAZING. We jumped a wide hogsback and turned it into a triple bar and it felt effortless — if not perfect, the power was there. And then a week later we had a lesson where I could not get that horse back. I tried so hard, and I asked him for the long spots, and he was like “Uhhh, fuck that.” He nearly ditched me into a one-stride combo twice (once at the first jump once at the second one), and came not to a screeching halt — that would have been preferable — but to a disorganized, spastic, ugly-trotting halt in front of it once.
It’s been much the same in our dressage rides. One day Murray spent the entire day busting through my left leg, regardless of which direction we were going, and his once-quite-lovely canter was suddenly this five-beat monstrosity that actually made me want to cry. Quite literally I was like “where did my horse go? what is wrong with him?” I wasn’t even asking him to do anything challenging, and his canter was like garbage. I thought it felt like a bag of trash (reference to The Lonely Island).
With a dressage lesson coming up I wanted Murray to feel good and loose and happy, so I just backed off and went back to doing the things that we used to do all the time. I’ve noticed a growing weakness in Murray’s right hind, or perhaps a growing disparity in the strength of his left and right sides, so I just focused on getting that right hind under him again. Shoulder in, leg yield, and a little haunches in (it still makes him booboo faced so I try not to do it too much). And not only did I get some really quiet, solid work from him, but his gaits were clean and we avoided fights. Big sigh. So much better.
Why did I abandon these exercises in my rides? What did I replace them with? I don’t not do shoulder-in and leg yields in my rides, but they stopped being the majority of my work and being little transitory bits of my work. What did I replace them with? I don’t even know! Gah, so frustrating. For now we’ll be back to incorporating lots of shoulder in (shoulder fore at the canter), leg yield, and working on getting the haunches in on all three gaits to make sure that Murray is limbered and strengthened and all those magnificent dressage things.
People say progress/success looks like this. You’ve seen it around.
I suggest a more accurate version.
I mean, I feel like we are just going around and around and around this staircase. Same shit, different day. Good shit, bad shit, boring shit, it’s all the same. Logically I know we are making progress. But the steps are tiny. And there’s a lot of wiggling. Some days are good. Some days are mediocre. Some days are bad.
So this progress is slower than… I thought? Than I expected? Did I expect anything other than slow progress on this horse? No, not really. When I find myself frustrated I have to wonder at why. Inevitably, it is the crashing let down from progress the day before. Somewhere in my brain I assume that because we made some level of progress the day before, not that we should be able to make that same amount of progress the next day, but we should at least be able to maintain the things we did the day before. But often we can’t. Those days are the flukes. They are indicators of a shifting mean, but the mean is shifting waaaay more slowly than those days of progress (or regress) might suggest.
Murray’s progress is like global temperature change models.
Like the Great Wall of China, the stairs are all different sizes. Sometimes you trip on them. There’s not really a watch tower or anything at the end, it’s just more stairs going in a different direction.
Tomorrow: dressage lesson with the wonderful Tina. And hopefully another tiny stair.