Something I haven’t really touched on here directly is that the last few weeks/months with Justin have been a bit of a roller coaster. In short, we’ve been struggling. That is not to say there haven’t been some pretty spectacular highlights dotted along the way, but we’ve been more or less managing soundness, confidence and his general comfort.
I won’t go into all the details, but like many horse owners, I hit a rough patch this summer. He was meh. Not off, but not right either. This started to lead to a spiraling loss of confidence for both of us. He wasn’t going his best, and I started to ride tentatively… you know how this goes.
We had a few rough schooling shows over the summer, and retired at a Horse Trial at the fifth fence on cross-country in August. A few vet appointments later, and I’m very thankful to say he’s feeling right on the mark again, but our confidence is still shaky. When the closing date for Morven rolled around, I knew I wanted to go, but seeing as thought our last try at just entering Training didn’t go well, and we were still picking up the pieces of our confidence, my jump trainer and I decided it would be best to run Novice.
Running Novice lets us focus on having a good go. Removing any potential issues with fence intimidation makes it more likely that I can ride better and more boldly. The goal is for both of us to finish feeling like a million bucks, and to be as confident as possible heading toward Virginia Horse Trials at training at the end of the month. I will be honest, it is a little disappointing to struggle in the last few weeks and finally take this step back, especially when our spring was so strong, but that’s just horses.
I, like many of you I’m sure, am my own worst critic. Am I embarrassed about our regression this summer? Yes, but I am constantly learning to not be so hard of myself and to appreciate the journey with my horse whatever the current goals are. I am proud of our recent accomplishments, and he’s felt amazing again under saddle and over fences. I’m so thankful to have a healthy horse who tries his heart out for me every time. I’m reminding myself it’s okay to take a step back every once in a while.
I think it’s also helpful to remember why I do this: to have fun with my horse. I am an adult amateur, with no tangible aspirations of riding at the upper levels, so if I can drop back for us to get back on track, so be it.
Sit tall and kick on!
And just because it’s adorable, here’s the pony feeling feisty in the fall weather: