I went out last night. Now, I'm not a big drinker, but I had a couple - enough to make me a little on the groggy side this morning. Then I got a phone call asking if I wanted to take someone's slot and have a lesson with John and I said yes, probably unwisely! It didn't give me a great deal of time, as I had a couple of things to do beforehand. I got to the yard about 20 minutes before my lesson was due to start - had to groom, tack up and warm up in that time. It was never really going to happen.
I rushed to get ready, rushed to get on and rushed down to the arena. I wasn't able to ride indoors, as I had hoped, because there was a riding school lesson in there, so I had to go in the woodchip arena. This is surrounded by horses being turned out and is exposed, so the freezing wind was whipping across it. Nice. It was OK, I was on and there just as the previous lesson was finished, but I didn't have my head on or my thoughts in place, added to the slightly shaky feeling from last night.
Because I was on edge, Echo didn't really settle and I wasn't any good at sorting it out. I had a real strop, stopped and said, "I can't ride today!" Oops - wrong thing to say, and I knew it as soon as I said it! He told me that it was pointless to have that kind of attitude - it doesn't get you anywhere. He said that if I tell myself I can't ride today, then I won't be able to ride today - simple as that. He said that any negative statement must have a comma at the end and be followed by a solution. He's said it before to me: "There are no problems - only solutions." That's all very well, but I couldn't think of any solutions today. She wasn't actually going that badly - I just couldn't get her going any better.
John seemed to sense that half an hour was not going to be time to get things going in the direction they should, so changed the tactics. He put three poles together on the floor between a pair of wings and got me to trot over them. It was strange - she kept jumping them from miles away, leaving me behind and launching herself over them. He put it up to a cross pole fence and asked me to still trot into the jump, without thinking about jumping it. The problem was, two strides out from the jump, I froze and stopped riding. This was throwing her, as she didn't know what to do. Once I started actually keeping her together and riding through the fence, forgetting it was there, she was great.
He then got me to come over it in canter and we both find this much easier. John said that she was poking her nose out a bit on the approach and that I should hold her together right up to the fence. It was great on both reins and we stopped there. He seemed quite impressed with her attitude to it. She is absolutely one of the nicest horses to jump that I have ever known - she doesn't rush into the fence and she doesn't rush away from it - it is as if she is cantering a 20 metre circle that happens to have a jump in the middle - I love it! When we had finished he pointed out that I have to stop making excuses for myself; by telling everyone that I'm rubbish at jumping, I am making it much harder for myself. I'm not experienced at jumping, but I can do it, and he even said that she's a natural. I feel like I should whisper that, in case it isn't true, but actually she really does enjoy it and so do I. Never thought I'd say that!
After my lesson, I watched a couple of others. It was really interesting to see how negativity seems to blight so many peoples' aspirations. One girl is going to an indoor eventing competition tomorrow and the fear of going is making her physically sick. She doesn't think that she will be able to 'support' her horse in the ring, as she will be so nervous. Thinking like that is definitely not going to help. Funny that I can immediately recognise it in others, but still do it myself. Another rider who is incredibly talented in lots of ways, has told himself that he can't do flatwork. He can't tell which trot diagonal he is on and refuses to believe that he could learn to. It was only when John explained to him how important it is for the horse's well being that we trot on the correct diagonal, that he started to consider it. He seems to have a block in place with his flatwork that makes him believe that he can't do it.
So the lesson to be learnt from today is that I can do it. I can get Echo to bend correctly to the right, I can get a good left rein contact, I can get her weight onto her hindlegs and her forehand up, and goddammit I can jump too! Feeeeell the positivity!