Friday, February 26, 2016

The Catch Ride Experiment

I am a highly-motivated goal-driven person.

That personality trait is not at all conducive to dressage.

The other day, I had a lesson on Courage. He was SUPER. He let me ride. I learned so much about how little I actually know how to ride. The next time I rode, Redheadlins came out to do media. She's always happy to remind me what I need to fix in the saddle, which is priceless when you can apparently remember nothing. NOTHING. I used to be a smart person who could ride. Now I'm like... a strange lump that is stiff in weird places and can't both post and steer. RAWR EXISTENTIAL ANGST.

Anyways. If you're super bored and like watching me walk, trot, and canter in a circle, here's video.

If you don't like video, here are the highlights:
Sometimes I ride like this, which I am ok with.
Most of the time I ride like this, which I am less ok with.

I mean. If you look at how Courage is going, he's obviously improving in general and that's great. But like. You don't have to be God's gift to riding to see that I need help.

But then I went out to our old barn and hoped on a fun fancy jump horse who looks like a teeny pony when I ride her.
She's very out of shape, but she's broke broke broke, so we played dressage pony with long stirrups and sitting trot. It was FASCINATING. I could feel things changing underneath me so easily and actually make corrections that were useful. My hands didn't bounce because I was just sitting and wow. It was (almost) paradigm-altering.

The next day, I dragged a pony friend out, dropped my stirrups two holes, and tried to ride Courage like he had 5 more years of training than he really does.

This was good.
proof I can perch in any length of stirrup

This was less good.

See, I was kind of hoping that the difference was the saddle or the stirrup length or the sitting trot or basically anything I could fix without spending YEARS training my horse to get to that point.

Fun fact: it isn't.

A large part of the problem is that I'm still working to develop a correct seat, which (just like jumping) is the foundation for everything else. A less-large-but-still-substantial part of the problem is what my trainer keeps pointing out--Courage just isn't ready to be ridden like VA VA VOOM DRESSAGE HORSE. Even if I had that skill set right this instant, he can't handle it. Remember how we're trying to eradicate the flailing instead of make it worse? Yeah.
one hole down from normal
I put my stirrups back up a hole so I could actually reach them, and then played with sitting trot a little bit. It's not amazing. I can do some well and more poorly.

But hey. It was an interesting experiment. I learned that Courage can handle a little more pressure now than he could even a few weeks ago. I learned to be more aware of my position. I learned that I an create an existential hormone-driven crisis out of nearly any situation and I learned that the cure to most crises is still a fantastic outfit, wine, and a good night's sleep.
it's never a bad day for argyle polos
Because no matter how much I want it to be, the answer is never DRILL DRILL DRILL and ride C into the ground. It's time, patience, and harmony. It's relaxing, letting go, and taking my time.

And you know, all those things my trainer told me in the first place.

And that's really hard for a goal-driven person to accept. 


  1. I feel your pain. My horse can't handle being ridden in a more forward position. It makes him anxious. One thing that has helped me is to video everything. I hate (a little less now) watching the videos but it makes a huge difference.

  2. Wanting to drill and work hard 24/7 but coming to terms with the fact that that is NOT the right answer is SO hard.

  3. Riding a been there done that school master type of horse always makes me feel like maybe I know what I am doing...then I ride my Diva and realize maybe I don't! You are doing great with Courage - keep it up :)

  4. You NEED that pony in your life. A lot.

  5. Haha this is something I've been preaching to you in comments about C for a long while now. So much so I figured you were ready to skip over to ohio and strangle me. But these special (I use that word in the special Olympics sorry of way not the prodigy sort of way) boys of ours require an unusual amount of patience.

    1. Haha I always appreciate your input. Much respect for what you and Steady have accomplished. :-) If I skipped over to Ohio, it would be for pony fun and a massage, no violence required.

  6. I think dropping your stirrups one hole and your goal-driven-stuff-that-I-totally-sympathize-with two holes was a FANTASTIC move.

  7. So true. But keep at it. You only keep improving if every day is the same consistent stuff, but every day you consistently push a little to see what's out there. No pushing = no improvements. Too much pushing = backwards. It's a balance.

  8. this positional stuff is just so freakin hard, i totally relate to creating these existential crises. will i *ever* sit tall with long legs? idk... even with a horse that *is* ready to be a 'va va voom' dressage horse (which, i love that terminology, btw), it's not really transforming me any faster or slower, ya know?

  9. Wine is pretty much my cure-all. For pretty much everything from "why can't I sit this stupid trot" to "omg what am I doing with my life." I am struggling with finding my dressage seat too. It will come. But yes if you are a goal-driven perfectionist the process can be... challenging.

  10. So good to ride another horse and have those ah-ha moments. I would get so flustered because it seemed like I could sit up and ride every other horse but my own! I also keep saying I am going to get a smaller horse that has an easy trot to sit the last 3 times I went horse shopping and ended up with 16.2+ beasts every single time. So...yeah...future goals to set myself up for more success.

  11. I definitely agree- I am a huge goal setter, and it threw me off my game this year. Progress is key in a sport like this, and remembering little victories help a lot more than passing milestones.

    My seat and position are all over the place, so you're not alone!

  12. Very cool -- and as I always say (even if most of the time, only the cats pretend to listen, ha), every horse has something to teach us. And every ride has new tools for us, so long as we've got the box open for deposits!

  13. That pony, so cute! It's so hard when you have a sensitive retraining project along with "I'm still trying to learn myself." I'm right there with you!


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