Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable - OCF Fall Recap

Otter Creek Fall Horse Trials was a success. I had Lady Hannah B running in the Open Intermediate and Juliette in the Open Preliminary. I had a lot to overcome as I headed into the weekend.

After having the last couple horse shows not go well, I was more nervous. Having prepared with lessons and the Ralph Hill clinic the weekend before, I knew that both myself and my horses were more then capable to conquer the upcoming challenges. One of the most helpful things I have learned going out and doing things that I am worried about, is understanding that the feeling of being uncomfortable, isn't necessarily a bad thing, it is just something you have to get comfortable with and know how to handle your reactions. "It’s not the situation but how you respond to it that makes the difference; it is within your control."

A book that I enjoy reading when I feel more nervous then normal is "Mind Gym: An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence" by Gary Mack with David Casstevens. It is all the inspiration and encouragement I need to put myself in a better mental state. Although the book does not relate directly to eventing, the stories and quotes from the world of professional athletics can easily relate. Just like in horse back riding, you need to be able to control your thoughts heading out on your horse, whether it is into the dressage ring, the start box or the show jumping stadium. My favorite quote from the book is "You have to learn how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable."

We all know how much preparation and work goes into getting ready for one weekend. Weeks of hard work, gallop sets, dressage lessons, jump schooling, hacks and more. If you don't put in the work before hand, you can't expect to get out on the field and perform your best, and it isn't fair to your horse to not prepare them adequately for the game. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."

The book also talks about goal setting.
SMART Goal Setting:
- Specific
- Measurable
- Achievable
- Realistic
- Time-bound
I had some very specific goals for Otter Creek. It wasn't to go out and win, it was to go out and perform my best. I had to overcome my latest fears of the potential to do bad. Because of my last falls, I had a lot of "what ifs" on my mind and I needed to clear my head of everything and go out there and do what I knew I could do, and that was put in a clean jumping round on the cross country. How did I know I could do it? Because I trust in my abilities to not over face myself, or put myself in a position that I am not ready for, and I knew I was ready because I have done it before. I had to push myself to take any self doubt out of my head, and replace it with confidence and self assurance that I was very capable of reaching my goals. "I may win and I may lose, but I will never be defeated." - Emmitt Smith.

I arrived early Thursday morning after a 2 hour drive in the pouring rain. I unloaded the horses and set up their stalls and organized the tack and feed stalls. I had special permission to walk my courses so I went over them with Kati Bodin and we came up with a game plan for each question. I then returned to the barn, soaking wet...literally all the way through and put on jacket number two. I tacked up Hannah B and headed out in the downpour for a dressage lesson from Alison Sader Larson. Hannah was great, as one dressage judge once wrote on my test "Good Mudder." I returned to the stable to put on jacket number three and wait for more students to arrive so we could work, again in the rain.

After the rest of my students arrived, we did lessons and then I rode Juliette. We settled the horses in for the night and hoped the weather would change overnight. Friday held early morning rides. Students Abby Turnacliff, Ashley Reut and Kelsie Holbrook performed in the Jr. Training Division dressage putting in good tests. Abby and Ashley competing for the 2nd time and training level and Kelsie moving up for the 1st time. I rode Hannah in the competitive Open Intermediate division and scored a respective 38.8 to put me in 4th place. Maria Filsinger and Pete put in a lovely dressage test to take the lead on a 34.8. Juliette put in a great test earning a 41.7 for a three way tie for 9th place. Morgan Samuelson & Ricky, Savannah Ruhs & Curb Appeal, Jen Johnson & Loose Cannon, Janelle Johnson & Royal Cootitan, Jessie Longe & Phoebe, and Kelsey Longe & Dance By Me all were riding at the Novice level and had good tests for the day. We were all looking forward to the cross country!

The weather report proved wrong, and we had sunshine on Saturday. We were all thrilled with the new forecast and although it was cold, the sun began to warm everyone up. Training was first to go for the day, so I warmed up Abby, Ashley & Kelsie and sent them out on course. Abby had an unfortunate fall at the fourth to last fence when Ziggy chipped in but didn't get his legs out of the way in time and the momentum sent Abby over his shoulder. Prior to her unexpected dismount she had a great round! Ashley & Rory had a wonderful round with one unfortunate stop at the ditch and wall but only added 5.6 time faults to their score to put them into 9th place. Kelsie had a wonderful first cross country experience at training level with a clear round putting her in 7th place.

Next was the Novice riders. I sent out Morgan, Savannah, Jen, Janelle, Jessie and Kelsey out on course. Unfortunately Savannah had a unplanned dismount into the second water complex, and Jessie at a dock fence out in the field. Although both riders were disappointed, they pushed on and helped the rest of the team out. Morgan, as expected, came in a little too fast on the speedy pony Ricky, adding 4.8 speed faults to their score, but Morgan now understands how important it is to maintain a steady pace and not run too fast (but nonetheless she was definitely having fun!) Janelle jumped a clean round to move up to 1st place and Jen also put in a lovely clean round moving her from 14th to 8th place. Kelsey also jumped a clear round moving them up to 6th place.

Next up was the Intermediate division. My first test of the day was to navigate Hannah clean around the Intermediate course. I had cleared my mind of any doubt or "what ifs" I had and put in my head visualizations of how my ride would go, positive thoughts only! After a great warm up we headed to the start box where Hannah jumped up and down in anticipation to get out on course. We galloped out of the start box and towards fence 1. We jumped clean and clear and headed out towards the upcoming questions on course. Our first question was fence 3, to 4A/B. We had to jump a vertical brush fence bending left hand turn to a triple brush skinny set at the top of a hill on a forward four stride to an even skinner triple brush skinny. Hannah navigated the question and galloped on to fence 5, a skinny cabin. We jumped the cabin and headed towards the water where we had a fence down into the water to another one on the mound back into the water. We headed to the picnic table to set up for the sunken road and jumped the bounce in, down the bank two strides across up the bank to another bounce out and ran on to a large table to a skinny cabin and down the hill to the second water complex. We had a large log drop in to a corner out. Next up was the weldon's wall, Hannah is so honest, I put her in right up to the ground line and she jumped on over. We headed towards another table in the woods to the down bounce banks on a bending line to a corner. We head to a vertical ramp on the tree line to the campfire vertical in the woods. We gallop up the large hill to a roll top and slowly slide down the backside to a triple brush skinny. Onwards we gallop to another picnic table and around the dressage ring to the coffin question, a ramp set on an angle one stride to a large ditch and two strides to a large brush vertical out on a bending line. After completing our last question we jumped the bench, the ramp and the final bear vertical and crossed the finish line. I was so happy that I was able to put myself in the right frame of mind to get through the course. Although we came in slow adding 23.2 time faults to our score, I came and did what I had set out to do, jump a clean cross country round. I was more then happy and my clean round had moved me up to 3rd place.

Next up was the Preliminary division, Maria & Pete were first to set out. Maria came up with a plan to ensure no eliminations at the water, which have been an ongoing issue of Pete's even before we purchased him. Maria put in a lovely round with only one refusal at the second water, a very good round only adding a few time faults to their score. I was very happy with her performance, we still don't know why Pete won't go into some waters and why he will go into others without even looking, but Maria has done a great job of working on building his confidence and getting him solid at the Preliminary level. Over everything else he is a machine, jumping everything out of a stride and not blinking an eye at anything else. We will keep working on him so look out for the two next season!

Then it was Juliette's turn to run around the course. Galloping up to the massive 3'7'' fences, that can be brushed up to 4'3'' with heights across the top up to 4'7'' and at the base 6'11'' with drops up to 5'3'' in height can be quite intimidating on a pony that is only 13.3 hands. But I couldn't ask for a better Preliminary Pony! She has so much power in the little body of hers that these preliminary questions are easy for her! She galloped out of the start box towards our first ramped roll top and flew over it, jumped up over the bike rack and over the large roll top towards a large ramped brush fence. Galloping on to fence 5 a skinny table and then a large roll top before the water. After galloping into the water we jumped the Otter and ran out of the water complex towards the large picnic table at the top of the hill shared with Intermediate before the sunken road. We jumped a coop one stride down the bank onto the road across to another vertical coop. We galloped on up the hill to a large table and then over some cabins back down the hill towards the second water complex. We had to drop into the water and gallop across to a vertical ramp out of the water. We then crossed the field to the large bridge question to the double bounce banks up and into the woods to a corner. Our of the woods to another vertical ramp on the tree line and to the camp site to jump two tents on an angle. We put in a lovely two stride and galloped up the large hill over a roll top at the top, slide down the hill to drop down a log drop and gallop out of the woods to another large picnic table (even bigger than the first and also shared with Intermediate) around the our coffin complex which was a roll top in, two strides to the ditch and one stride out over another roll top. We completed the course jumping the bench, the ramp and the vertical log and galloped across the finish line. I was so proud of Juliette, putting in a great round and adding 18.8 time faults, coming in faster then most of the larger horses in the division! We moved up from our 9th place tie to 4th place.

Overall the Liz Lund Eventing Team had a very successful day! I would like to thank everyone who helped get my horses ready and take care of them after my rides! The competitors party on Saturday night was a blast as usual, dancing on the picnic table, chatting with friends and fellow competitors around the bonfire and just hanging out reflecting on the days events and prepare for tomorrow's challenges in the show jumping ring.

Show jumping started at 8am when there was still frost on the ground. I warmed Hannah up and headed down to the ring to watch. Rails were flying left and right as we had to jump over a "pink course" sponsored by Jumps 4 Joy...which proved to be a challenge for just about everyone. Although I had 3 rails on Hannah I maintained my 3rd place position, which isn't common, so that right there tells your how many issues everyone had with the course! Overall I was very pleased with our performance over the weekend. A great way to end the season. I am looking forward to working this winter to improve even more for next seasons challenges.

There were 156 competitors at the horse show, and there were 1060 jumping faults throughout the day on Sunday, majority of them being rails and some of them being stops. I did the math for Poplar Place September Horse Trials, the same weekend, which had 206 riders and only 648 jumping faults throughout the day, which I also assume some were stops but most were rails. Obviously something was going on with our Jump 4 Joy jumps! I looked for reviews online but couldn't find anything. So far my experience with the Jump 4 Joy jumps has not been positive. The horses, even if they are jumping well are punished for doing their job. Despite this being said, we put in the best rides we could throughout the day.

Lady Hannah B finished in 3rd in the Open Intermediate division. Juliette 4th in the Open Preliminary with Maria Filsinger & Pete in 7th. Kelsie Holbrook & Tess finished 6th in the Jr. Training and Ashley Reut & Rory finished in 9th. Jen Johnson & Loose Cannon took 7th in their Novice division, with Morgan Samuelson & Ricky in Jr. Novice, with Janelle Johnson & Royal Cootitan finishing just outside the ribbons in 9th place at their first Novice event and Kelsey Longe & Dance By Me taking home the 2nd place spot in the division. Everyone had a lot of fun, it is always great when we all can get together and support one another over the weekend.

I would like to thank everyone for making the 2010 show season a successful one! I have come out of the season a better rider and teacher! I look forward to working hard this winter towards improving for the 2011 show season! Look out because Liz Lund Eventing is going to hit it hard this winter!

On another note, I will be staying in Minnesota this winter and am available for training and teaching either at my farm, Trophy Hill Farm or am willing to travel. I hope everyone continues to take lessons and set new goals for next year!

I will try and continue blogging throughout our training this winter. Stay tuned for updates on schooling shows and clinics this fall! Kick on and get over it!

Mind Gym Quotes-

“it takes years of hard work to become an overnight success”

"Each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit"

"Create your own mind gym visualizing yourself overcoming mistakes and doing things well"

"Focus on the task – do not let negative thoughts intrude"

1 comment:

Carrie Dalos said...

This was your best blog yet. Your wisdom in being positive and paying attention to how our feeling and dealing with it in a positive way is the secret to a wonderful life, as well as a wonderful ride. The blog is very well written and contained some very important aspects of horsemanship that we all need to aspire to. Keep up the good work!