Well, thank goodness that's over with. My Husband has replaced my laptop and spent yesterday setting it up for me. I think he likes me. :-)
The last week has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. In general, I am a Steady Eddie. What you see is what you get. I like everyone to be happy, I believe in positive reinforcement and I try to approach things with a smile first. Not last week.
Tuesday before last's lesson was awful. Not awful technically....actually, I did pretty well....but awful personally. I didn't go for Burgers and Beers because I thought the top of my head was going to blow off and I would come across the table at someone. This was the first time I didn't go. At the end of lesson, I was telling LA that another boarder was going to show me some pleasure driving exercises for Gem. LA came down hard with discouraging this approach. Unfortunately, this conversation was taking place in front of my classmates. As LA finished telling me how Gem was going to turn into a fire breathing dragon and rip my arms off (my interpretation of her safety talk), CA contributed to the conversation by stating that SHE thought that Gem showed signs of disrespect towards me when we had free lunged him and he could be a problem in an unfamiliar situation. It was at this point, the top of my head was getting ready to blow off. I don't remember much after that. I felt like I had been ganged up on. I felt that the excitement that I felt for Gem's new found talent had been sucked out of me. I felt incompetent and a bit betrayed by LA and CA. I think it took me 5 minutes to untack Gem and water him and get the heck out of there.
Now granted, my stress level lately (Board Meeting, Dad's illness and surgery) has made my skin very thin. And, CA has always provided comments because we ride on Sundays, so there is that level of familiarity. But something that happens on a regular basis is that, when we go for Burger and Beers after lesson, Gem ends up being made an example of. Yep, because he's not a robot school horse he is considered a "challenge", according to some of my classmates. Usually, I just remind them in a smiley way that he's not a robot horse and we move on. But, the negativity has been percolating for a while now and has started to boil over. There would have been no way I could have sat through yet another conversation at Burger and Beers focused on how Gem could be improved or how he could kill me if I teach him to drive. It wouldn't have been pretty.
CA did reach out via email that night. She knew I was upset with her. I have a "sleep on it" rule, so I responded to her the next day. We met on Sunday to talk about it. It was not a satisfactory conversation really. She became defensive and so did I. According to CA, training and the environment at a stables is always negative. You learn by being told what you are doing wrong. I agree with that to a point (LA's teaching is positive and negative balanced, which I like). She did apologize for jumping in the conversation with LA, but she did tell me that I would have to accept that barn environment was negative in general and the comments she makes are "constructive criticism". I explained that if advice is asked for, yes, it's "constructive". But if it's unsolicited, then it's just rude and discouraging....for me, anyway. I pointed out that I would never initiate a negative conversation about her horse in front of others, so why wouldn't the same courtesy be extended to me? We walked away still friends, but I don't think our relationship will be the same.
I spoke to LA about it. She did agree that the conversation about driving could have been taken off-line, but she did reiterate that she was against having a non-professional person showing me how to do something that could potentially be dangerous if not handled properly. I totally agreed with her. We talked about barn environment and how I was finding that it was chipping away at my confidence. She had an excellent point; she told me that she overhears our conversations when CA and I ride in the arena on Sundays. She hears CA making comments, giving advice, telling me how to do things. LA pointed out that I had opened the door to negative feedback and familiarity by accepting it initially and then allowing it to continue. If I wanted things to change, then perhaps it was time to shut the door. She said that she would be more than willing to take 10 minutes out of her Sunday routine to show me how to do something or if I had a question about something I could always talk to her. She was very supportive and encouraging. She told me that my skill level is right on par with ALL other classmates and congratulated me (again) because I have to work twice as hard as they do because Gem is big and is not a school horse! I started to cry. :-)
So, I have closed a door. No more negative feedback for this girl. I will not allow myself to be sucked in to the negativity of those around me and I will not allow others to chip away at my confidence. Usually, I make arrangements to ride with CA or someone else on Fridays and Sundays because that's my comfort zone. Not last week. I tacked Gem up and rode BY MYSELF in the front paddock. I had my Nano shuffle, the sun was shining, it was quiet around the stables and it was amazing. I was quite pleased with myself.
So you see, one door shuts but another opens. There was a positive that came out of all the negativity that I have been experiencing with riding lately. I sort of feel that I am entering a new stage in my riding experience. It was confirmed that I am as good a rider as my other classmates! Yay! I can ride BY MYSELF! Yay! This new-found confidence that I have was evident in my lesson on Tuesday....I loped Gem in a SMALL circle twice! Yay! Everyone did really well, in fact. BTW, I went for Burgers and Beers after. We were happy and pumped and congratulated each other on how well we did.... positivity is contagious!!