Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that Two-Pointober is finished and try to forget that we’re on to No Stirrup November. My final time for the month was 11:34; my starting time was 4:06, so I feel happy with the improvement I made!
My plan to improve my time mostly included adding an extra day of (very slow) jogging and a day of pilates/yoga. I felt like the jogging really helped with this challenge. For me, jogging is a mental game. I am very slow, but I jog at a pace which feels doable and that I can sustain for 25 minutes or so without breaking . But jogging is boring. I don’t like to talk and jog. I find music distracting. I’ve tried reciting dressage tests to myself, but after the fifth time I’ve repeated Novice Test B or First Level Test 2, I want to throw myself into oncoming traffic. It takes me a long time to truly clear my mind and think of nothing except the motion of my arms and leg and the breath going in and out of my lungs. Once I’ve reached that point of mental nothingness, I can jog a couple of miles and feel okay about it. Until then, all I can think about is how much I hate jogging, how much my body hurts, and if this stitch in my right side will ever go away.
Sustaining two point for a while is a similar process for me. There’s a little more to think about, since I’m astride a 1100 animal covering ground at an average pace of 12 miles per hour. But really, Gina is a very easy horse to manage. She cruises along at a beautiful pace. We’re both familiar with the sights and sounds of our hay meadow. It has excellent footing and no obstacles. So I two point and Gina canters along; I think about how much my legs are burning and that I’ve surely been doing this for several minutes now and how nice it would be for conditioning if there was a hill or two in our field. But with a little concentration, I can stop the mental chatter. Just like with running, I can focus on how I’m breathing, on how my legs are absorbing the shock of Gina’s strides, on how Gina’s ears flick back and forth, on the wind whipping at my face. Eventually, my body fatigues and Gina’s breaths get shorter and harder, and we have to slow down.
But for eleven and a half minutes, all I thought about was nothing. And it was glorious.