I want to shake that anxiety that is currently plaguing me around taking Theo out. Between his shenanigans outside of show rings, his theatrics on cross country courses, and his occasional melt downs on trails, he's not exactly a steady eddy outside of the ring. He has made great strides, but he's not consistent. It's starting to have an impact on my confidence. When I think about going on an adventure, I don't feel excitement. I feel anxiety. New rings, new courses, new trails, new companions all cause that little pang of fear. 'He's going to spin, buck, and be naughty' says the little voice in the back of my mind.
Which is dumb because we've gone and done a lot successfully in strange, new places. It's just been awhile so the confidence is slowly starting to erode away.
After a lot of consideration, I want to dump my usual competition focused goals and go with something a bit more abstract and holistic. I want to focus on making us the best pair possible, regardless of ribbons.
In 2018, I want to:
1. Complete a (non competition) cross country course
I picked this as my first goal strictly because it makes my stomach clench hard enough that it hurts. I know what I'm in for, but I also know how good it will be for our confidence to go out and conquer this boogie man. At 18", of course, and in a schooling situation where we can go out and school each fence ahead of time. If we can do a cross country course, we can manage the dressage ring.
Actually going out in the open
2. Compete in western dressage
Because I bought the saddle, damn it.
3. Trail ride somewhere completely new
Yes, doing the trails connected to the barn once a week keeps him from hating the sand box, but we need to push past that. What's the point of buying a trailer if I never go anywhere for the fun of it? I have friends just itching to take me out on the trails. All I have to do is go.
I could be out here again
4. Get back over 60% at a sanctioned show.
I don't care what level we show at, but we need a score over 60%. We need to be reminded that we can do this. I don't care if I drop back to Training, I will be competitive again. I don't think I'll have to drop back, but if I'm still scoring badly? Fine. Whatever it takes. We need that confidence rebuilt.
5. Go for a gallop
I used to love going for a gallop. I lost that along the way. Theo doesn't seem to know how to gallop so I'll have to teach him. That'll be interesting.
Once upon a time, this didn't scare me
6. Show in dressage like a boss
I should be marching into that ring like I own it. It's the sandbox, not a pit of dragons. After doing Training level cross country, this should be a non issue. As I used to joke with my eventing friends, why would I be nervous? There's no jumps, no water, no ditches. If I feel like it's my kingdom to conquer, Theo will buy into it and assume that it is his time to be my war horse stallion. It may take a lot of schooling shows and some counseling but I need to be able to march into that ring with complete confidence.
I am a good rider. I have to say that to myself like a mantra. As my friend said last night over drinks, 'you're not a real ammy, you're like a professional ammy'. I am a good rider and can manage mi papi even when he's on his less than best behavior. Yes, we will show at First level and I am still shooting for that Second level debut, but we need more than that. We need to relax, take on new challenges, face demons far bigger than judges' booths. I need to feel him gallop and react with elation, not terror. He needs to feel confidence from me when he's not sure. We need to practice together so we can lean on whoever is feeling more secure when things get tough.
Two very scared newbies relying on each other for support
I want 2018 to be a bunch of trailer trips and schooling shows. I want to go on adventures. I want to face a new challenge with the feeling that my partner is right there with me. I think it's a good goal to have.