Something I have been working on for a very long time, particularly in dressage, is my mental game. I used to get extremely worked up before dressage, because I just knew it was going to go badly. As a result, it usually did.
Shockingly, this past weekend at Greenwood, my mental game finally came through for dressage. We entered the ring calm and collected after having a wonderful warm up. Our trot work was really lovely, and even the walk was decent. Unfortunately, he then lost his mind a bit in the canter, swapping across the first diagonal and refusing to pick up the correct lead, then swapping on the final canter down center line, then refusing to trot to the final halt. It was relatively atrocious. I can sum that test up with the statement that it was both the best and worst test I have ever done. Still, I was so thrilled with his trot work, that I forgave him for his canter work. He's still playing with his lead changes like they are a new toy. Now I am trying to take that toy away from him, so he forgets about it a little. It's going well at home and in warmup, but apparently not so much in the actual test. We'll work on that. In the end, we were tied for first shockingly, but on our usual low 40s score. I'm positive we would have broken into the 30s if he hadn't melted down in the canter, so hopefully we can pull that together before Colorado.
Cross country, as usual, he was amazing. We were forward and bold to all of the fences, and very much in sync. At first, he was quite on the muscle, and I found myself with rather long distances to the first four fences, as if he were attempting to make the fences larger. He soon settled, and we went along to a comfortable pace. I wasn't planning on trying for time, so I was pleasantly surprised when our leisurely gallop (at least it felt rather leisurely to me, I never once pushed him) turned out to be the fastest of the division, putting us into first by almost 10 points.
So going into show jumping, I was feeling rather good about have two rails in hand. Unfortunately, my mental game failed me, and I sucked. Again. Just like at Poplar. We had two rails relatively early when I got him a touch deep to a couple of verticals, and then I just bombed going into the triple combination. Almost fell off while Dante climbed through all three fences. It was just all kinds of bad. Then I missed badly going to the final fence as well, so I ended up with six rails. Not exactly a confidence building ride, having two of these awful, non-qualifying rounds before my two star....
My game plan is very much to work on my mental game. Mike is going to set up some jumps in the field for me, so I can feel the difference of jumping in a large space, rather than his very small arena. I thought about attending a schooling jumper show, but unfortunately the only jumper shows around here in the month of May are 'A' rated, and would cost me $300 or more to even get there. I'm not sure I'm ready to shell out that much for a couple of schooling rounds. I've also got a couple of sports psychology books, and I'm going to do some digging in those.
Once again, back to square one.