Trusting your eye and turning off your brain

Be warned, this may be more of a philosophical post than a traditional recap post…

In today’s edition of Ranger Recap, I’m going to try and talk about my last 2 lessons. 2 weeks ago was my first lesson in about 3 weeks. The lesson was fine except I could NOT ride a distance to save my life. I was going to say I couldn’t see a distance to save my life, but that’s not true.

The issue was, I say the distances, I saw EVERY. SINGLE. DISTANCE. And then missed every distance. Or most of them. The problem being that instead of riding the distance I saw, I didn’t trust my brain. I changed something and then the distance wasn’t there.

And this was so frustrating.

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I have mentioned it before, but I have a very accurate eye. Why? No idea. But I can see distances very well, especially for someone who isn’t riding much. If I rode more, chances are my eye would be pretty damn close to perfect. But, that’s how accurate my eye is.

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Gross mini anyone? He’s trying to be an appaloosa? 

The issue came last lesson that I started second guessing the distances. Instead of turning, seeing the distance, and riding TO it, I turned, rode 4 strides, and said, “Oh shit! Maybe that’s not what I should be riding to!” and changed something. This had me riding past the distance. Or, when I finally accepted that the distance I saw turning the corner (seeing the distance 10-15 strides away ISN’T ideal FYI — but that’s where I see things) was THE DISTANCE and stopped fiddling, I then failed to add leg for the going stride. And we’d chip.

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Always judging me… 

We started off in that lesson with baby fences. 2′? And I really couldn’t see anything. Granted, I didn’t panic, but it was HARD. Then my trainer hiked the fences up to help me out. It was so much easier to see, but then I stopped trusting my eye. (NOTE, there was 1 fence I nailed every time, 2 fences I screwed up every time, 1 I then fixed, and 1 we drilled until I finally didn’t screw up).  We got through it, but it wasn’t pretty.


Based on last week, I was dreading this week. Migraines all week and I wasn’t disappointed when my lesson was rescheduled from Thursday to Sunday.  Sunday it was pouring and we were inside.

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Constant judgement

Barn was empty when I got there so I had my Ranger time and a full 40 minutes to groom and relax. So necessary.

The rain and cooler weather and possibly not being out overnight left me with a energized horse. He was forward and wiggly. We had a long flat warm up and lots of circles and two point and circles in two point and drilling my position in two point. Then cantering. Larger circles. Small circles. Focusing at the canter shifting between 1/2 seat and 3 point. In our small circle dropping my outside shoulder and sitting on my outside seat bone. Then lengthening. Then, because when you haven’t done lead changes, why not work on that in the indoor? Which we missed at first but eventually got in the corner and the collected the canter back up and repeated our circles before halting with Ranger’s head up (he likes to root if given the opportunity).

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This face does not judge. Unless you stop stuffing him with food. 

Over fences we warmed up with a large figure eight exercise — single around to short ride to another single back around and repeat. We did that a few times before turning it around and doing that the other way. After the lead change, Ranger was a bit excited, but nothing crazy. We then turned back around and did the first single around to the long ride to our oxer focusing on steady pace and even. We. Hit. Every. Single. Spot.

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Judging me, judging Hermione (who is suture free and doing very well!)

As the ride continued, we added in fences, working 3-4 jumps at a time. Always riding forward, working on straightness because Ranger was NOT providing that and keeping the forward going. My eye was accurate and the only change was that once I saw something, I just started counting 1-2, 1-2 to maintain a steady rhythm. If Ranger tried to pull down (not forward, down), I tugged up to rebalance and back he was on his hind end, moving forward. Everything was right there.

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Best face.

We struggled with 2 lines. One inside where my turn wasn’t perfect. We made it work the first 2 times (first turned too late… shocking, then didn’t use 2 hands) but once I used 2 hands AND outside leg it was easy and I didn’t need to work. The only real issue was the bending line and that was not Ranger but me. First time through we did the oxer around to the line and I didn’t like the oxer and failed to let that go. The in was actually nice, but I got nervous heading to the out oxer (it wasn’t huge, but it was close to the wall and made me twitchy) and looked at it and saw the spot and then stopped looking at it and rode right past it. Consciously.  So we did it again. I did the add just to get me over it. Before jumping the second time my trainer yelled “you guys jumped in the Dixon Oval and that jump is making you nervous?!” Lol. Third time was gorgeous and forward and we called it a day.

Well, I called it a day. Ranger had a do a w/t lesson with a tiny bit of cantering which is cute and terrifying. Supposedly he’s good if he likes the kid. If he doesn’t, he can’t do the w/t lessons. He just takes off cantering and gets faster, and faster, and faster. Oh Ranger…

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Best face in the world. 

Anyway, my takeaway from this very long post. I really need to trust what I see, what I FIRST SEE, and go with it. Once I see something, I need to focus my brain on something, anything, whether counting, singing, or conversing with Ranger about anything. But, trust that I can and do see the spots. I wish I wouldn’t see distances so early because that is part of the issue. Seeing something 12-15 strides back isn’t ideal as that’s a long time to stick with a plan. But, that’s where I’m at. Trust it. Go with it. Commit. And stop interfering. And it’s all better when Ranger is more up like yesterday. When he lazy, it’s so much harder to stick with the plan!

14 thoughts on “Trusting your eye and turning off your brain

  1. oh man, i 100% know that feeling of seeing a distance then kinda managing to muck it up anyway. one of my coaches said i get kinda “too excited” and then, yea, change something. definitely obnoxious!!

    • It’s this second guessing of what I see. So I’ll turn, have the pace, and then tell Ranger to shorten up and change my pace suddenly like 2 strides out because there’s no way what I’ve been riding towards has been right… Or, continue riding towards something and just flop around at the last minute and not add leg because, going for the going stride, it’s important to ride under powered… It’s ALL mental. Because I can’t possible be right?

  2. I have days like that too, where I can see everything in the world and then end up messing it up. My favorite thing is to find the nice deeper distance and then soften my shoulders to it, making it weak instead of riding up to it and making it powerful. Total fail.

    • It’s not even wanting to take options. I just 100% stop trusting myself and tell myself I’m wrong. I’m not looking at the jump (riding a stopper in the past cures you of that) I just tell myself I don’t know anything and I’m a fool who is wrong with a bad eye… Self sabotage!

  3. Ah haha yeah me right now is like “distance? Crap, how do I judge the distance? I’m trotting. Or hell, how big even is this horse’s stride cause who the f*ck knows cause I sure don’t” haha. But I totally get it about second guessing yourself and your brain being like “but what if?” so you change something instead of trusting yourself. Sooooo frustrating. But I’m glad it was still a productive lesson!

      • Hahaha totally no judgment here! I would get sooooo freaked about jumping when I was a kid that I’d literally “black out” in my rounds. I could never remember jumping a single jump but apparently I did haha! So I totally understand!

      • Well, Remus and Ranger will take over. Ranger doesn’t care how much I screw up. But the more I screw up, the harder I get on myself? It’s hard to explain… I’m not a perfectionist. But, I don’t tolerate mistakes for when my brain gets over involved…

    • The problem is I see it and I 100% know I’m right. Then that evil voice in my head tells me I know nothing and I can’t be right and to change something because I know nothing and if I know I’m right I must be wrong. Stupid brains.

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