Friday, February 3, 2012

Managing Expectations

I'm guilty.

I'm guilty of getting caught up in the excitement of having a new saddle and, in a way, having a new horse. I've ridden more in the past couple weeks than I have ridden in a long time and I look forward to every ride. A ride every other day? Nope, I'm riding every day and I'm working on things that matter. I'm motivated, I'm focused, and I'm excited about what's to come for us this year.

My horse has been making tremendous progress and I finally feel like a competent teacher. When Lilly does A, I know exactly what to do to help her understand and when she does B, I know how to counter it, using her over-active brain against her.

I think I let things get a little out of control, including my expectations for each ride. I was anticipating a measurable amount of improvement each and every time we stepped into the arena, and at the very least, we would pick up where we left off the day before. I mean, why wouldn't we? We've been making so much progress!

Our ride yesterday proved me wrong.

After giving the ride a lot of thought, and after feeling guilty about the way our ride went and how I handled the challenges, I realized I had set expectations too high. Has Lilly been doing great? Yes. Is it fair of me to expect her to be great every time I put a saddle on her back? No.

My frustrations yesterday were more with myself than they were with Lilly. I had been feeling so good about everything that when things weren't going as I expected, I became frustrated... frustrated because I didn't know what to do to help the situation. I felt a little lost.

This morning I debated about whether I should go to the barn or just stay home. I came up with a number of reasons to stay home, but in the end I decided to go ride my horse. So we had a bad day... big deal. Today was an opportunity to start over and try again.

I apologized to Lilly today for the way I handled things yesterday and she graciously accepted the peace offering. (A carrot, of course!) We decided we were going to have a great ride no matter what, and I promised no expectations.

So was it a great ride? Not really, but we worked through it and when we struggled I slowed it down and we started over. She was a little speedy today, so I took the opportunity to do a lot of long trotting to build up some muscle and work her stifles. We worked on circles and bending and eventually moved on to our canter circles. If I could choose one thing to get excited about, it's her canter transitions. They were like butter today... absolutely beautiful.

Even though she's a little passive-aggressive at times, and a bit of an over-achiever, I know deep down she's trying, and she wants to please. I won't forget that from now on.


  1. Awww, what a sweet post! You just gotta keep tryin to do right by her and she'll keep trying to do what you want. :)

  2. : ) Lilly's pretty lucky to have an owner that will come back and apologize the next day! But be careful, or she'll demand 2 carrots next time ; )

    So jealous of all the successful canter work!

  3. Congrats on the canter departs!

  4. Oberon is a friendly, easy going guy and confident... very confident. There-in lies part of the problem and most of the reason I love him! I find every once in a while it is best to not ride and just hang with him. Not much grass around lately, but I found a nice area under a tree by the lake that I take him to and he eats, I brush him, chat, sing a bit (making sure NO one is aroudn :). His eyes are so happy... and I swear, that sometimes the next day is our BEST day.

    So those days you are frustrated, just go and hang with him and give it a rest for one day. One day of no riding and you will be so eager to go back and keep trying.

    I'm feeling frustrated about why I don't seem to be able to communicate to Oberon with my seat more... I just don't seem to get it. But I have read so many blogs and talked with people at the barn and listened to them say how the "light" clicked in their brains one day about something, and I realize I just need to be patient... and keep practicing.

    It sounds to me like you two really are coming along wonderfully and she is like Oberon, she wants to please. You can't say that about every horse...

  5. I find i need to step back and appreciate what we have, even when the ride is going pretty poorly. I have a lot of rides where my expectations are high and I dont treat Milo fairly. Then I always feel super guilty and look at Just this last Wednesday I can home from my four days in Texas and after watching the NRCHA World show, I wanted to replicate those rides on my horse. I got aggressive about it and really wanted that run. I didnt take into consideration that Milo had had four days off, not to mention he is not at the level of those world show competitors. once I realized that and came home, processed, and was able to thinkabout the situation, I went back out yesterday and although it wasnt the most fabulous ride ever, I was able to work on a few things and feel like we got something accomplished. Its hard sometimes, but everyone goes through it. Kudos for recognizing it though!