Rectus Oculosis- How not to think

Okay, so, if you read my last post- you may have noticed that the transition to the jumper ring hasn’t been the smoothest so far.. due to both fluky trips/falls and a decline in confidence for Team Kathlyn and Will. Coming off of Summer Smiles it would be safe to say my confidence was at a low point. With two weeks to prepare for Beach Party, I had a lot of work to do. And work I did. The first thing was to get my body back to a functional point. A couple days of rest, and a date with my AT (and some suction cups) got me back in the saddle and riding like I wasn’t in severe pain anymore. My goals for my horse and I in the weeks leading up to the next show were to work on our transitions, and to get Will moving a bit more on his back end.. He was starting to get too heavy on my hands for my liking. Transition work day after day worked to correct that. Sometimes you have to go back to the basics, even with experienced, trained horses!

In our first lesson after Summer Smiles, C was pleased to see that I was back to a normal riding style.. she noted that seeing me ride at Summer Smiles (with bruised ribs and a stiff entire body) was frightening. I have to admit too that in this lesson, even though we were doing nothing out of the ordinary (albeit jumping some large-ish jumps), I was pretty nervous. I’ve been dealing with somewhat random anxiety when it comes to riding ever since breaking my leg, but this was more then that. This was a fear that I wasn’t confident in my abilities anymore. And as any rider will tell you, confidence in this sport is the be all and end all of success. Thankfully I have coaches that are impeccable at picking up on things that their riders don’t always say out loud. The training I did leading up to Beach party was all about building both my horse’s and my own confidence back up.

Going into Beach it’s safe to say I was pretty stressed. Between finishing spring term the week of (including writing an exam almost immediately after doing schooling rounds Thursday), coming off two challenging shows, dealing with the stress build up of my insane schedule(s), and just having paid all my bills for the month (aka seeing all my money vanish)- my head was in constant chaos. Besides the chaos, I was pretty stuck in a negative thinking pattern. I was sure that I was going to mess up every single thing all weekend, fall off, and do something stupid like break another leg. I was experiencing a severe case of what a prof refers to as “rectus oculosis”.. or.. a crappy outlook. I knew that this was a horrible way to enter a competition, and was really trying to snap myself out of it. All the thanks to my two ever supportive teammates Megg and Lauren who listened to me vent, and constantly reassured me that I wasn’t the worst rider ever. During warm-ups I was actually feeling pretty calm, until I added in the two stride which triggered frustration. I got over it pretty quick and went to write a Intro Business exam (that I studied for 30mins for…yikes).

The next morning started out with my stress levels running high, as my alarm didn’t go off and I was late.. rushing to get on in time for my first class. When I finally got on and warmed up, I realized that I had misread the schedule and actually had another 15 rounds before I went… Cue more self-frustration. But.. when I finally got in the ring..this happened:

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My horse and I were back in sync, and I felt like a rider again. I could breathe after day one at Beach!

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Day two got even better:

20140710-210757-76077585.jpg The rides I had this day felt amazing. While we didn’t pin in anything, I felt like the rider I’ve trained to be. My leg was solid, my seat was efficient, and I was making better decisions on course. Best of all, I wasn’t terrified. My confidence was coming back. FINALLY. My mental outlook greatly improved.

Day three was a fun day, we entered just the .85m and the .85m relay with fellow rider Courtney and her horse Vinnie. This was the first time I’ve ever done a relay, and it was a blast! Definitely one of our best courses all weekend- purely because we were just  having fun and not thinking about what we might do wrong! Courtney and I ended up 4th.

20140710-210757-76077321.jpg What a relief to come out of a show feeling like I was grasping the idea of how to ride a jumper course.

This past weekend was a prime example of how much of a mental game this sport is. I know I’m not the first rider in the world to doubt themselves. Every single one of us does it, and we all are very good at telling ourselves that we don’t know what we’re doing. Especially when we’re riding up to a combination and not able to see a distance. Why our brain tells us to take our leg off, fall forward, and stop riding is an unfortunate mystery… but that’s exactly what happens. All those things you can do impeccably at home become the farthest thing from functional in an actual performance when you over-think, lose confidence, and see only the negatives.

It’s very difficult to approach any sport or performance and not let those little negative thoughts slip through your mind. I was one “tears hidden by sunglasses mental breakdown” away from scratching the entire show and giving up. What stopped me? For one I wouldn’t have been any happier not showing that weekend. Sitting around at home being miserable is worse then being in the saddle and mildly terrified. Secondly, I have an AMAZING support team behind me. Every show I am SO thankful for my coaches, my teammates, my mother (who has sat through my legendary freak outs more times then I can count) and supports me regardless.

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Because of all those factors I keep pushing myself to meet whatever challenge came up. This show presented no physical challenges to overcome. The only thing standing in my way was myself, and for me that is more frustrating then any amount of physical pain. I overcame my crappy outlook, and I’m very glad I pushed through it. My thought process after something challenging happens is something I know I need to work on more for future competitions- because I know I’m going to have plenty of challenges to face in the future, but getting through this weekend and reviving my shaken confidence was a huge step in the journey.

Some other fun points in the weekend were entering the bribe your horse competition (Will will do ANYTHING for carrots), entering a team in the Beach Vball tournament (and winning it!!), and watching my teammates kick butt in their divisions. I’m so glad I didn’t quit this weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Water into wine, and vice versa

I had to put vice versa up there, because some people will argue to the grave that a glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away. Right, mom?

I’ve found myself the past few days in a very motivated state- which I am taking full advantage of. Midterms are over, and although I am very satisfied with some of the results- others I was a little disappointed in. However, after a few days (a week) of being kind of down about it, I’ve found myself now using it as a little extra push to focus some time (haha, whatta concept) on prepping for finals. Already? They’re a month away! No, but seriously… they’re ONLY a month away.. Yeah, I know. When you have approximately 8 final exams, practical and writtens combined to total approx 50% of your courses- I’m feeling like getting a jump start on that is a good idea.

This week my schedule has been running pretty tight, as usual, but also much more focused- as per the above paragraph. The past three days have been running quite smoothly- but I know the latter part of the week is going to get a little bit more hectic (as it usually does). I’m actually quite glad, as much as I love my evening shifts at the gym, that I booked both nights off this week. This morning I got to campus bright and early (7:45AM, haven’t been there that early since first year…) to practice with my football supervisor, Nikki, as she preps for her national certification. Again, so glad I have the opportunity to study with a grad of the program! I ended up just staying on campus all day and doing more studying, because, hey- gotta take it as it comes right?Tonight, instead of working, I attended an awesome presentation by Dr. Peter Jensen, a sport psychologist, which was super interesting on both the athlete, coach, AT, and student point of view. On Thursday, which I had already booked off in advance on the chance that I had football, I so far have no plans as our semi-final game is now on Friday night. I haven’t quite decided what I’ll do yet with that extra time. Perhaps start the next 10 page paper I have due. Perhaps see some friends I haven’t seen in a while. Who knows!

What I do know, is that Friday is the day I have ended up being triple booked all over the map. Before I found out our game was on Friday, I was planning on attending another guest lecturer at school, this time the topic being “too much sitting”, then heading to the a AT student association function, and then seeing some friends. While I still think I”ll be able to attend the lecture, everything else got kiboshed by football- another late game (8:30 PM), which means by the time I get out of the cold around 11:30 PM, I’ll be way to wiped to do much else except warm up and try to sleep. While I was really looking forward to the other things I had originally planned for Friday, I’m equally as happy to spend the time at football with the team. The experience I’ve gained there so far has been so worth it, I wouldn’t want to cut my season short! Even if it means freezing for a few hours.

Right now I’m very glad that my schedule is full of so many wonderful things. If you remember my post a couple weeks ago, the one where I was a little bit over the whole school thing (written during midterms), and really just wanted to be riding. And as much as I do really miss riding, the things that have filled my schedule lately (running KSA, research, classes, so much studying, work, football) are have begun to seem like less of a chore (ask me again during finals), and more like something that’s getting me to a higher place.

One thing that has been helping me motivate myself a little more (besides midterms roughing me up a little) is exactly what I was missing a few weeks ago. Riding. I haven’t forgotten about the goals I have there, and while before I was getting frustrated about having to put them on hold each time I head back into a school year- I’ve started getting a bit more proactive about it. I’m really working at finding a balance between all my different goals and pursuits in both aspects of my life, and I’ve started working on some very rough drafts of a functional training class for riders. I hope to keep putting some work into that in between reading my massive text books. Coaching on the weekends has really been a great excursion too for me. This past week my student and her horse started showing some awesome progression in many of the things we’ve been working on, and I love getting the feedback from her as she rediscovers herself as a rider and bonds with her horse. I’m glad I have little opportunities between extra projects at school, coaching, and Horse Connection to give me a break from everything else.

Those goals I wrote about at the beginning of the school year are being achieved, day by day. I’m 100% sure this attitude will flip on me again soon, and I’ll being dragging my ass around campus not wanting to do anything. Which is why I’m taking full advantage of it now. Turning that water into wine.. or the “whine” into water? Because water is the healthier option there.

Speaking of healthy, that’s another goal I’ve been working hard on. After gaining 6lbs in one meal (I was serious when I said I loved Thanksgiving the most), I’ve been putting some serious effort into eating right. Gluten and most grains are out, dairy is occasional, and consistent eating throughout the day is for sure in. I know the reason I’ve been able to keep up with myself on not a tonne of sleep is because I’ve been eating right.

Speaking of sleep, I should really get at that for tonight. Tomorrow is another early morning and a long day. Until next time!

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Holla at me, I could totes make the team…