Monday, April 13, 2015

Pictures and Progress But Not Progress Pictures

Good news! Micaylah came out to the barn and took pictures this past weekend, so I have actual riding pictures.

It was really fun to have her around, because I feel like I've spent the last four-ish weeks alternately spinning my wheels and regressing (and mostly regressing). Micaylah pointed out that we have, in fact (somehow) made progress and there are visible changes both in my ride and in Courage's way of going.

So yay!

eyes are up
Because if I'm being honest, I've been really discouraged about riding lately.

I'm killing myself to progress.

And I keep having to go back further in the dressage.

And we're trotting/cantering poles to "jump".

that tricksy lead
 I mean, I'm a grown adult. I can look at the big picture and tell you that we have training holes to fill and that my very talented horse needs time to learn and my less talented self needs to figure out how to ride more effectively.


But there's something about being able to look at pictures of riding. In the black and white shot, for the first time, I see some semblance of a dressage position in myself. It's not perfect, but I'm sitting up and my leg is effective and my hip angle is open.

Even our overly-challenging right lead canter has positive points. I'm sitting on him more than I used to be able to. My hands are more up.

And hey, let's just all admire how he's not bolting into the sunset. Definitely a win for team brain there.

he's just so good looking. i have a hard time seeing bad things.
Beyond that, here's a shot of our first time in a dressage saddle less than a year ago. (Also when he was going well mid-summer).

It doesn't look as bad as it felt. I was totally out of balance. We had no rhythm.

So yeah. Courage isn't the second coming of Valegro (TEAM CHARLOTTE AM I RIGHT TOTO GOING DOOOOOOWN AT WORLD CUP), but we are making progress.

bay colored glasses
It isn't flashy. It isn't fancy. It isn't world beating, but my little horse is learning to use his body, power off that gorgeous hind end of his, and go forward into a reliable, elastic (sometimes) contact.

And I taught him all that.

And that's actually pretty cool.

See, this is why I love pictures. They aren't always perfect and beautiful. They are always honest.

I can't see myself objectively, but I can look back and see how far we've come.

And then I feel a little less discouraged and a little more like trying again tomorrow.


  1. Hugs!! If it's any consolation, I can't ride at the moment either, even though Apollo is sound ... the footing is just too, too terrible. Dangerously deep and slippery.

  2. THIS.
    This post is the exact reason why I love watching myself in video and looking at myself in pictures. The progress may not be world beating, but it's a black and white representation of how far the little things have come :) YAY progress!

  3. Definitely a change! You should be proud :)

  4. When you live the progress every day, it's easy to feel like you're not getting anywhere. That's why it's so great to have pictures and friends who tell you otherwise :)

  5. I think progressing can feel like NOT progressing sometimes because you get used to the 'new normal', and when things that were once a huge issue aren't anymore, it doesn't feel like you're moving forward in huge leaps and bounds. It can be tough to see the big picture on a day-to-day basis.

  6. This sport measures progress in millimeters, I swear. I feel your frustration!

  7. Dressage is hard. Jen is right, it's a sport that measures progress in millimeters, and each one takes forever.

  8. i love pictures for the same reason - but definitely try not to let them tell the whole story or get me too down on myself. progress IS definitely happening, slowly but surely!

  9. It's not always linear. Ask me how I know. I think y'all are looking super spiffy if that counts for anything.

  10. Frustration is, in its own way, a sign of progress. And you guys are looking better and better.

  11. The interesting thing is, even when you don't think you're making progress, you often are. Wiz and I have had so many crazy ups and downs I figured I'd get back on and he'd be totally green. Um, nope. Now that his brain is back he's tracking around like he never lost a beat. Kind of weird. I know you're going through some challenging times right now, but I'm glad you're keeping it in perspective and seeing the big picture.

    Also, I feel like this happens a lot with dressage and TBs- they aren't necessarily super naturals at it, so when you start asking them to carry themselves correctly they say WHAT ARE YOU EFFIN INSANE!? But once they start developing the correct muscles for it, and it becomes easier, and they start to understand what you're asking, then it all starts to fall in place for them. I feel like courage might be in that place where he's thinking WHAT IN THE WORLD WHY DO I HAVE TO USE MY BODY LIKE THIS ITS HARD CANT I JUST GALLOP???! but the stronger he gets the easier it will get and things will start falling in place for the two of you.

  12. Thankfully we have people to occasionally stop time for us and show us how we look from the outside. It's amazing how out of sorts you can feel, but really only look inches off in balance or form. It's a sport of nuances really, with two living, opinionated (sometimes very), organisms trying to mesh into one cohesive unit. I'm then first to be down on myself, but really we know winter and spring usually get rough, summer gets better, then we cycle all over again, hopefully a little further ahead than last time.

  13. I agree with the above posters! It's hard to measure progress in real time! Always good to look back at chunks of time to see the differences!

  14. Things often come in bits and starts. If one building block is missing or not solidly set, it will impact how well the horse can learn new things. The important thing is that Courage is learning to use himself correctly. His muscles need to build up correctly and with that things will come more quickly for you both. I know it seems to be taking forever, but looking at the pictures from far away, you are making fantastic progress.

  15. I love this post! And I feel like this is be point of dressage and why some either love it or hate it...and sometimes is a love/hate relationship mix. But when you can see that progress, even just that little bit, it's really fulfilling.

  16. 1) I see a MASSIVE change in your position, so much less collapsed in the upper body! I wish I looked as good as you! 2) No Toto at the Word Cup. I'm devastated. I was so looking forward to a Toto-Valero showdown, and actually seeing him in person. Sad panda ��

    1. WHAT???? I just read an article... dammit.

    2. Well crap, now I'm confused. The WC site doesn't list him. Can you post a link to the article you read?

      Also, to clarify, your position before was never bad. You just have better "self-carriage" (heehee) in those pics. I was thinking back over my comment and didn't want it to come across as me saying your position before sucked, because it didn't!

  17. Yes, I love how your position is coming! I didn't have to yell at you to put your chest up!


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