Downward Spiral of Confidence or Competency

I’ve been putting off writing about this for a day, hoping to get some insight into how my little brain works. One thing I know for sure, or think I know, as Lucy Barton in the books I’m reading would say, is that once I lose my confidence in one thing, I start screwing up other things. That’s how it’s been the last 24 hours or so. I’ve had lots of time to ruminate, however, so maybe I’ll find that I’ve had a good learning experience.

The source of my downward spiral. Who couldn’t love that face, though?

Yesterday was, for the most part, a pretty rough day for me and horses. The challenges just kept building and building all day. First, I went to get Apache ready to go to a training lesson. He just seemed to be in a very uncharacteristic bad mood. He didn’t seem to want me near, and kept coming at me with his teeth. He has only bitten me once, and that’s when I stuck my hand in his mouth quite foolishly. But, he acted like he didn’t want me around. Too bad, we had to do this stuff. Yep.

Mr Grumpy was all manners and goodness later, when he got a slight hoof adjustment.

He was all shifty and stompy when I groomed him. This is a horse who usually stands still and enjoys the grooming experience. He didn’t like being tied, no matter where I took him, either. At least he got into the trailer nicely and was not too hard to tie up, though the teeth came at me again. What the heck?

Once we got to the training place, he was fine, though, and other than truly not being interested in trotting, did well in the round pen. The trainer said she could see improvement in our relationship, which cheered me up some. She got on him to work on straightness and walk-trot transitions. Apache was not thrilled and was really not thrilled when he was asked to do shoulder-in walking, which makes sense, due to his internal issues, which I’d hoped to resolve a bit today, but that’s another part of the story.

Unhappy Apache not being allowed to curl in his neck.

I even got on him and practiced walking, trotting, then backing. I had some trouble at first, but in the end, I had an aha moment, and now that is really a nice thing to do, and we both seemed happy. This was the highlight of the day. The video below is what I was doing. Thanks to Sara for taking it.

I was being good at this!

Sara’s videos and photos really made me sad, though, because I can see what a little, old lump I look like in the saddle. Even when I’m doing well, I look pretty awful. No wonder I have to start over.

There’s a reason her arms are crossed. I look clueless.

Next, we took Apache back to the trailer to hang out while I did a lesson with Drew. This is where I did another thing that messed with my confidence. I tied Apache next to Aragorn with a hay bag between them. I guess my knot that Chris insists I use doesn’t tighten well enough, so Apache was too loose. It enabled him to show what a bad mood he was in by kicking poor Aragorn. We got a call from the trainer’s son saying the paint was kicking the white horse.

More lumpy Suna riding. Good news is his head is down and he looks more relaxed.

I was mortified and afraid the expensive horse had been hurt and I’d never be able to apologize enough. Sara went to move Apache and was upset about my knot, which she didn’t know how to untie it (it just unties itself once you undo the last pull, but I obviously suck at knots). I also feel awful about that.

Yesterday was already not a great day for me emotionally, since I was still pretty shaken up about Ted dying and the five or six other deaths I’d heard about that day (really, SO many people lost their mothers!). The Apache thing got me shaky.

Then, when I was asked to longe Drew over his hill, I just could not do it. Yes, I was unable to guide a horse going in a circle. I completely lost my ability to do this thing that I thought I knew how to do in my sleep. Well, I need to do it differently now, and hold the rope a certain way, move my feet a certain way, never nod my head, put my elbow into my stomach, and keep level with the horse’s rump. I did none of those things correctly.

Drew being longed properly.

I asked Drew to speed up too violently (I did it the way I’d been told to do with Apache) and was told I’d traumatized him. Then I went into a downward spiral of doubting everything I was doing, and being afraid to hold the rope. When Drew got out of control, I was told to draw him in, draw him in, and I blanked on what that meant I was supposed to do. It meant to shorten the rope and bring him closer. Makes sense NOW.

It was a total cluster of insecurity, loss of confidence, and incompetency. I have no idea how I will ever do anything with Drew other than pet him when I get home. He is so sensitive, yet so boisterous. It’s great, and he is wonderful, but I only have experience with a horse that is slow and ignores me. Versatility eludes me. I have lost my positive outlook. Where did it go?

I ended up pretty damned weepy and wondering what the heck happened to my carefully nurtured equanimity I’ve worked so hard on this year. I’m glad my step-mother called so I had to force myself to be cheerful for a few minutes. It’s always good to hear a few stories from Flo.

Of course, the trainer had kind words for me, and pointed out that all training is peaks and valleys rather than a straight incline, and that we all have our bad days, both people and horses. I know she’s gone through her own bouts of feeling incompetent and judged, so I appreciate her insight, even if it will take a while to set in.

I love this photo showing what all the horses are probably doing, at least mentally, while we analyze their behavior endlessly.

I did eventually get able to watch Sara’s lesson and see how she and Aragorn (who didn’t seem too badly injured and was happy to do his lesson) deal with straightness and transition issues, just at a higher level. Those folks who say the problems stay the same no matter what gait you’re working on are right about that.

Aragorn is making lots of progress and you can hardly see where he got kicked.

We decided that Apache will go in for some training next month when I go on my next condo sabbatical. He will get worked and I will get to stare at my favorite beach. It should do us both some good. The trips are truly helping to keep me on an even keel.

Whining Digression

What I suspect is actually bothering me is my regrets about my family and people who were once close to me. They really build up during the winter solstice period. Most of the year I am at peace with the fact that so many people I love and care deeply for do not reciprocate the feelings. This year I am down to ONE person biologically related to me for Christmas, now that my sister also no longer cares for me. Not all of this stuff is my fault. Or their fault. It’s all gray. I just miss them.

And I wondered why I was surrounded by circling vultures all day…

So, I will hug Lee, Anita, Declan, and Rollie on Christmas and thank the Universe for the larger community of caring folks who do surround me, even if I’m grumpy, sarcastic, negative, harbor unpopular opinions, and am just hard to live with. Most people are, to some extent. I’m smiling as I write this, so I’m not feeling too sorry for myself. What would that help, anyway?

Back on Topic

On the horse front, I’d expected to spend most of the day with them again, but Trixie forgot about our bodywork appointment. It’s all for the best, though, because I finished a secret Christmas gift, and Sara also got some work done. That’s the attitude we need. Sure, there are setbacks, but there are good things that can come from them.

Merry Christmas to all of you out there. You are a true gift to me! My gift to you is this pink evening primrose I found blooming in the pasture this afternoon. I took it as a sign of hope.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

6 thoughts on “Downward Spiral of Confidence or Competency”

  1. Life is like training, too, isn’t it — all peaks and valleys, bad days, feeling incompetent, feeling unloved…thank you for sharing this, Sue Ann. It helps me not feel like I’m the only one in the world feeling all those things and more. Do you meditate? I’ve been hearing the word equanimity in my meditations a lot. This post made me want to hug you. I miss you. And I love you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my friend. Yes, I do meditate. I’m glad you’re also finding it helpful. I appreciate the virtual hug and would sure like a real one. This situation will pass and we can make that happen.

      Like

  2. This is a hard time,Suna. You are loved by so many including your equines. Each day is different with them. They prob picked up on some of your feelings. It is hard when we love those who seem to turn their backs. We can still continue to love them and trust they are working out their highest good and while they are doing that, we are ‘spared’, sort of freed up to do our own work. It’s not the way we envision. I do believe we are part of a Divine Plan that really loves us. When we look, we see that love in different places, flowers, hens, Fiona, the workmen at your pool….

    Like

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