adjust your attitude

I lost my temper with Murray on Tuesday, which was an unfortunate and unflattering moment for me and an upsetting moment for him.  (Reason number 389234 that I am not a pro.) IMG_1963

Remember that I’ve had absolutely nothing but fabulous rides on Murray since getting back from Chicago, even when I ask him to do something hard, even when I have to get after him a little for being lazy, even when we miscommunicate a bit.  And not just “good” rides, but “log into messenger and talk with your best friends about it IMMEDIATELY” rides.

So Tuesday, Murray was kinda blowing me off, and then about halfway into our ride became a spooky piece of shit.  It was windy, so there was that, but this was really ridiculous spooking – dropping his back and bolting down the long side, running sideways halfway across the arena because we dared to pass a bucket of jump cups that we’ve seen approximately 500 times before.  I handled it all wrong, of course.  I didn’t recognize early enough that he was blowing me off sidewaysbecause he was looking at jump filler, and then lost my temper and buckled down with MORE and HARDER work all around the Scary Things that ended up with Murray grinding his teeth and begging for a stretchy trot break.

I should have just practiced calmly and quietly stretching and coming back to me, instead of reinforcing Scary Things and tension.  I realized this when I had cooled off a bit, and tried to go back to soft and relaxed work near-but-not-too-close-to the Scary Things, but Murray was already tense and a little on edge.  We got back to a good place, and in the grand scheme of bad rides this was hardly that bad!  But it made me feel bad.

On Wednesday I got on Murray with the plan to just work on stretching and relaxation if he was anywhere near as spooky as yesterday and to try to get back to the soft-and-happy place that we had formerly achieved.  Murray wasn’t spooky, but he was tense and distrustful.  And the tension I felt was very similar to my dressage rides on Murray about a year ago.  It was that not-really-listening-to-you, twisty, choppy tension… Even writing this just a few hours after my ride I’m finding it hard to describe, but that’s the impression that has lasted on me since my ride: it was like we regressed by a year.  I’ve been completely shocked by how mature and responsive Murray has been recently, and then we slipped right back into baby mode.

feb dressage stretch

We worked through it and ultimately had a great ride.  But my overwhelming impression was that losing my temper and then digging in yesterday put Murray back into that distrustful, tense, unhappy mindset where dressage (and sometimes jumping) wasn’t fun, and wasn’t worth it.  It’s a place I’d rather not go, since the place we’ve been in lately has been so much more pleasant and fun.  It makes sense that the attitude with which I ride would affect how Murray goes.  I mean… duh.  But I don’t think I realized quite how much my attitude and work ethic were affecting the princess pony.

Definitely requires some chewing upon.

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13 thoughts on “adjust your attitude

  1. I understand what you mean. I recently went through a time (longer than one ride) where I felt Drifter was blowing me off and not trying at all. He’s usually tries so hard to at least give it a shot, but this was like a total checked-out ignoring attitude for weeks. I got so frustrated! And I hated feeling like I was letting him down by being upset with him. With the young guys, it’s hard, isn’t it? They progress and progress and then all of a sudden they don’t. But your expectations have grown right along with their progress so it can be tough to be as flexible and nimble as I sometimes need to be. But it sounds like you figured things out (and I did with Drifter, too). You’ll get back to the fun, mature rides soon!

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  2. I just want to say I’ve been there, and props to you for having the balls to put it on the internet for discussion. My favorite blogs share the good and the bad, and I am not always so great about sharing the bad. Sometimes you just wish you could talk reason into them, you know?

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  3. I have been there too and I know exactly what you are describing. It is a great thing to share because I bet there are several riders beating themselves up all alone about the same things. The important thing is that you recognized it and learned from it. You listened to him at the end of the day and your relationship will be better for it. Next time…or at lease eventually, because we humans are hard headed and slow to pick up at times… you will remember this moment and your thought process and attitude will be different. Thank you!

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  4. I agree with CobJockey. I’ve about had it with the people that blog that try to fool everyone that its all great all the time….not how life with horses go. We’ve all been there though, at least you recognize it and can apply it in other situations!

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  5. I still love that sideways to backwards move Murray pulls off so well. Sorry you had a bad ride, but we all have them. I think I have more than most, but it’s possible I just share more of the bad than the good. It’s good to see other bloggers admit that it’s not always roses.

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  6. Being in tune with ourselves is sometimes the hardest part of riding, but you guys will get back to that happy place and faster because you are cognizant of what to do and you’ve been there before!

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  7. It’s incredibly difficult to remain calm and somewhat passive when you ride, I think. The other thing that’s tough for me is although those attitudes can be really helpful, sometimes I need to be tough, or gutsy or what have you… I struggle with when to bring each to the table.

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