My week has been full of the the usual show season bustle. I came back from Whidbey last week just long enough to get unpacked, wash all the dirty laundry, and then repack for Donida! We were off again for my second Young rider attempt. I have to say one thing I like about region 6, the shows are only an hour or two away from home. No more 6 or 8 hours each way. But then again, those long drives gave Bre and I some great talking time.
Anyway, Sjapoer did not seem to like checking out a new place. For our first ride he looked like he wanted to spit fire. He was tense and tight. In the past I would try to work with this by ‘making’ him behave. However, as I have noted in the blog several times Jeremy and Shauntel have been teaching me great strategies and a new way of thinking in dealing with him when he feels this way. These techniques have given me a lot of confidence in dealing with his moods and also makes us more consistent. We ended up with a 69.85 and 69.
The best part of the weekend was spending time getting to know some of my fellow young riders. This close to the border there was actually a Canadian rider in my class. He was very welcoming and came over and introduced himself. Some of you might remember him from Junior’s last year. His name is Colby Dodd and he is 6’3' with an equally as tall horse Capri, hard to miss among all the girls at NAJRYC! I won both the individual and team class (the prizes were backpacks) so in the spirit of cross-country good will, I gave him one and now we are ‘backpack buddies.’
Once I got home after two straight weekends of showing I crashed. I’m behind in my Spanish and Honors American Lit class. I am reading both Animal Farm and The Catcher in the Rye. I can’t understand why books about young people finding themselves and growing into adulthood always have to be so depressing or negative. Anyway, while I was digging through my notebooks I found the huge folder of information we got at the first EDAP clinic in Florida. I was reading through all the material and I remembered something really interesting that I had not shared with you yet; journaling! We had the most amazing speaker talk to us about how to record our thoughts and information from lessons, clinics and other events in order to gain more advantage from keeping a journal.
The following information is a bit of information I took from our handouts from barnbynotes.com We had four handouts, one each from Courtney King-Dye, Lendon Gray, Rachel Saavedra and Dr. Kathy Kelly about their journaling techniques. Dr. Kelly did a lot of research on how to use journaling to be part of actual practice and becomes part of the learning process when we can move information we have gained from short into long term memory. She tolds us that when we take a lesson we have to be careful because when we learn we can learn things right or wrong. The brain doesn’t care, it just remembers. She said that “journaling effectively allows us to visually, intellectually and kinesthetically solidify and understand what is correct and incorrect.” Offset the negative learning by journaling. When writing about things not to do use negative words in order to help your brain think about not doing those things. When you are writing about what NOT to do write about how something felt wrong, visualize it and then correct it. Visualize and think in positive terms how to do something correctly. How did it feel. How did it look. Break it down into as detailed and specific description as you can. Don’t say something was good or better. Say it felt “Soft, bouncy, full, llight, uphill, forward. The words you use should immediately conjure up for you a feeling that you can relate to, that heps you recreate the memory of that moment.” Finally, Dr. Kelly said to then summarize in a brief overview (no details) what you learned. This is like restating the big picture after the details.
Rachel Saavedra said her style of journaling was a ‘teach back.’ She would write down after lessons or a ride, how she could explain or teach to others what she had just learned or experienced. She wrote trying to break things into teachable or understandable segments in order to develop ‘excercises and concepts for teaching each subject.”
Courtney is an avid journaler. She said in the 18 years she had been journaling she filled up about 30 journals, sometimes four a five a year. She said, “using a notebook helps riders contemplate what they did in the saddle to see what worked. And it gives them the opportunity to reflect on what didn’t and why.” Her suggestions were to take your notebook everywhere with you. You never know when you might have an ‘ah ha moment’. She also had specific questions she asked herself after riding. She would ask, what worked and why? What didn’t work and why? Finally, she did not just detail what happened. She said you need to write down how it felt. Try to be descriptive of how it felt in the hands, in the leg, in the saddle, in your muscles, in your arms, etc. Oh and Courtney enjoyed humor in her journals, remember the fun and funny parts of our lives with horses. For example, I remember one time my mom was feeding Swift in his stall. He liked to nudge around for treats which she often carried in her back pocket. He actually got his lips around her cell phone, pulled it out of her pocket and proceeded to dump in directly in his water bucket. How we laughed about that. It definitely made it into the journal that day.
Finally, Lendon’s journaling. First, she said she used to taperecord herself. Ok so after we got done laughing at the idea of a taperecorder I really liked the idea. I like writing, but honestly I usually talk into my phone first and say what I want and then fix it from there. So Lendon would tell her thoughts to the recorder on the drive home. I think it is great to have a specific time to make a habit of journaling. The drive home could be a good time, while you are waiting for a drying horse. Pick a specific time every day and make it a habit. Anyway she had a three part system. The more times she touched the material the more she remembered and the more it was usefully put into long term memory. So she would record, relisten and rewrite, then reorganize and rewrite. When first writing, “brief bullet points can be critical.” Then when rewriting let the thoughts flow and try to elaborate. Finally, Lendon put some goal sheets for riders up on barnbynotes.com check it out
So I have started to be a better journaler. Still this blog is a better part of it for me still than my daily log. I am going to take some of this advice (again) and relook at how to improve my own journaling. Just like every other aspect of dressage, we have to work hard and daily to find ways to improve!