We all know about horse meltdowns, but rarely do I hear anyone talk about rider meltdowns. Not losing it on your horse: I mean melting down later, over your terrible riding skills.
It’s been my experience that riders, as a whole, are incredibly solid, stable, and emotionally well balanced. Until we hit the issue of riding. Then we are about as emotionally reliable as the garden variety street psychotic. Luckily for our families, without the dirty clothes and shopping cart.
Let me amend that: without the shopping cart.
Here is my psychoanalytical report from the previous Dr. Freud incident. I decided he was an idiot to blame my childhood for my wacko behavior, and concluded my meltdown was on the continuum of Normal Reaction To A Bad Ride. How many times have I witnessed the same behavior from other riders??
Anatomy of a Rider Meltdown
Friday: I read Confessions of a Struggling Dressage Rider’s wonderful post on the psychology of sport riding. It had some great info that I couldn’t wait to apply to my next ride.
Saturday: Applied info. I had an amazing ride. The planets aligned, the moon was in the 7th house and I was on Jupiter! I can ride! I AM A ROCK STAR!!
Sunday: get to use new knowledge on (different) Rare Opportunity horse. One word to sum up this ride: ABYSMAL. The only thing that could have made it worse was if I’d lost my balance and bounced off. I can’t ride. Who am I kidding? I’m terrible. I TOTALLY SUCK! I AM THE WORST RIDER ON EARTH. Jupiter too.
Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, Monday morning: I Wail. Prodigiously. I’m in shock. How could I have been this terrible and not known? Have I been fooling myself all along? I’m mortified. Embarrassed. What have people been THINKING when I showed up every day acting like I could ride okay? I will slink around the barn from now on.
Note to self: Next time? (Oh yes, there will be a next time.) keep mouth shut, plaster smile on face, and do not call anyone. My second cousin not only does not care that I had a bad ride, my second cousin can’t quite remember who I am, and is faking it.
Monday: Depressed and unsure, I mount giant, super lazy horse that is difficult to put together. Holy Crap. I HAVE A FABULOUS RIDE. Look mom, no spurs! I got him reaching, forward, and moving OUT. He was booking. On the bit, lifting, round, connected. Brilliant. I AM A ROCK STAR. Maybe I CAN ride?
Tuesday: Roping horse is amped to the max. He’s done being in rehab. He has James Brown in his head singing “I Feel Gooooood”. He wants a cow, and he wants it NOW. I have my hands full (he doesn’t get to decide when rehab is over) but he’s a gentleman, even when bouncing in place. Every left lead canter depart is nice and round, with a good inside bend. However, within five strides he’s shoulder fore and completely wrapped around my outside leg…as if he were going for a cow. We discuss that he should straighten out now. This horse doesn’t argue. Discussion of any kind is unusual for him. It’s not my best ride: most of my energy is concentrated on keeping the rocket in the bottle, so we’re sort of zigzaging around the rail. Considering he’s totally psyched and loaded for cow, it’s an okay ride.
I’m not a rock star, I’m not currently sucking, there’s definitely no brilliance. Honestly? I’m adequate at keeping Hudson from looking too speculatively at Princess, who is also in the arena. Hudson believes if he squints, she looks somewhat like a cow. He’s pretty certain she MIGHT be a cow. Could we pretend she’s a cow?
Uh-oh….wailing trying to surface…did I work this hard and come all this way to be…adequate? Ahhhhhhh. No. Wait. I can sort of ride?
Wednesday: I rummage around until I find A Grip in the junk drawer. I pull it out and hang onto it, repeating Daisy’s magic words over it like an incantation:
“Dude. You haven’t ridden this mare in a year. Ride her again tomorrow. It was a first ride. Don’t be a FREAK!”
Oh yeah, the power washes over me. I have a grip. James Brown stomps out onto the stage in my brain…I feel GOOD….I knew that I would…I feel right….I’m a good rider who had a bad ride, a great ride, and an adequate ride this week. What was that whole up/down thing about? Sheesh. *dances with mic* I Feel Goood…I Knew That I Wouuuld…
Welcome to the wonderful world of living with equestrians.
P.S. When trainer rode Princess? Princess deliberately mis-read her cues and tried to run off with her before settling down. Who knew?