Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rome wasn't built in a day....


Maybe if I repeat that enough times I will get it in my head? Just because we have one good day doesn't mean we'll be done the next.

I'm rushing her, but nothing seems to be happening at the walk phase, and I'm impatient, and I know she can do much better. I just have no idea how to ask. Which makes me terribly happy, note the sarcasm ;)

I really cannot seem to figure out how to engage Greta's haunches, or to get her to bend anywhere off my leg. She'll go forward off my leg, she'll do a lovely leg yield off my leg, but no bend. She'll just keep her body straight and just slightly counterflex... it's hard to describe. We have little improvement at the walk. She'll track up but beyond that she just inverts her neck when I pick up contact, whether we do it on a circle or serpentine or on the ceiling haha.... so we start over again..... and again and again and again..... she definitely does not have a nice trot under saddle like I know she can, because I have seen her do it on the longe line and out at pasture (my what a floaty trot she can have!) a gazillion times. I have a bruise (first saddle bruise ever I think) on my left leg just above my ankle where I was pushing into the girth to just try and get a smidgen of bending. I put my outside leg just behind the girth, but that's just because I know I'm supposed to do that, I can't seem to use the technique to it's full or appropriate advantage. And forget the outside rein: she takes it quite literally still.

So I was frustrated with today's ride, as you can tell.

However, our halts are almost spot-on (she doesn't halt with her haunches engaged all of the time, but she does halt when asked without a tug of war with the reins) and she'll shorten and extend her walk no problem with just my seat and legs. She'll go forward off my leg. So we are making progress.... but it's sooooo slow DX

I am just.... frustrated. I must remember that it is only day 6 of what will probably be several months, and after that a few years before we might even think about first level, but it's just no fun anymore. It's getting tedious. It's feeling like dressage.

I must not rush. But Lord, if only things didn't have to be at such a sluggish pace! Because I know she can do it, and I know can do it, I just don't know how to do it!

I feel almost like I have to do this on my own for some reason. But I am going to ask for help. And the books can't tell me everything and replace a hands-on instruction. I don't want to give up an go back to lessons because we are quite behind the other riders, at least I am, Greta is probably way ahead of things haha, and I feel the need to slow things down and actually get these basics and understand how to utilize them.

So yeah, riding feels like an absolute fail right now.

But off the saddle, things are amazing. Like, you have no idea.

Greta will follow me everywhere I go, no lead, through the arena or pasture or the barn aisles. She'll come when called, or at least perk her ears at me! She will stand in the grooming stall without any cross ties or even a halter. She loves her ear massages and neck massages and eye rubs and thorough groomings and apples. She is so sweet and lovable and intelligent and gorgeous and perfect and everything I had always dreamed of since I first envisioned a horse my own as a little girl trucking around on lesson ponies. She is the perfect horse.

I'm just not the rider I thought I was, and it is quite frustrating, don't get me wrong. I know I have to work through it and get my confidence back up because this is making me feel quite incompetent. We do fun things like gallops in the pasture and hacks around the yard almost daily, and I know how to work her past scary objects and what-not, but then we get in the schooling arena and I just go "Oh crap, I don't know what the HECK I am doing! How do I do this? How do I ask? I thought I asked right, but I obviously didn't because I'm not getting the right response."

I want to learn how to communicate with dressage. I want to learn how to become a better athlete and how to help Greta become a better and more beautiful athlete. I'm just impatient and slightly confounded and boy is that a killer!

But you know what the good thing is? At least I'm admitting it and I'm looking for solutions. I still don't know what I'm doing, but I'm trying. E for effort, right?

I'll see how tomorrow goes. I'm tired, and I know I will feel much happier tomorrow. I might just delete this post. But I really wanted to vent. It feels good to understand my feelings now.

One thing is for certain: I am definitely looking forward to GRETA KISSES, my favorite time of the day :)


  1. I hear your frustration.
    Check out this video:
    Dr. Joanna Robson shows you how to tell if your saddle could be causing pain.

    Based upon the information given in your blog post, it sounds like saddle fit may be an issue. Even if a more experienced equestrian has told you that your saddle fits, your horse is clearly expressing something else. No amount of practice or careful training will compensate for an uncomfortable saddle. That is why I suggest that you try a bareback ride, even just at the walk. Your horse will let you know if she is more comfortable, just like her beautiful trot at liberty.

  2. The wisdom of your self reflection is truly amazing. If just half the girls your age had that kind of insight to their problems, the prescription drug companies would go out of business because they would have no one to sell mood-stabilizers and anti-depressants to! You are an inspiration!

  3. You're right, Rome wasn't built in a day. These things won't fix themselves overnight. You can be a fantastic rider and get on a horse that's stiff and resistant and you can't make him go perfectly right off the bat. Strengthening and suppling takes time. LOTS of time.

    And remember, the first step of the process is knowing there's a problem. You have insight beyond your years; it will come in time. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt and look for the small things that are signs of progress.

  4. It is soooo common to have a great ride one day and then have a crappy ride the next. OMG, I used to get SO upset when that would happen. Like, hysterical crying upset. But it makes sense, if you think about it. When you have a really good ride, and everything just "works", your horse probably uses muscles they don't normally use. Then the next day they're a little sore, or just tired, or YOU might be tired, and things feel like they're falling apart. That's just how it goes. It doesn't mean you're not making progress, it's just the way things are. And it's something you have to accept and not take personally.

    I used to be a major, MAJOR perfectionist when I rode. It really sucked. If things weren't perfect, I could NOT enjoy myself. I think I've gotten over it now, thanks to Sofie and her numerous issues, but from reading this post, I think it's important for you to really think about what's actually important. You love your horse. Your horse loves you. You enjoy each other's company. THAT is important. Training? Not so much. It's easy to get caught up in your training and take it way too seriously. I remember a time when my training was actually going quite well, but I was so fixated on every little nuance and taking everything so seriously that when I asked myself if I was having fun, the answer was "Kind of, sort of". The most important thing is having fun. You're not going to the Olympics. You're not trying to make a living by training this horse. Until you are a dressage professional, and you HAVE to make this horse perfect by the end of the month or you won't get paid and you won't be able to eat, just focus on having fun. You will have breakthroughs, you will have rides that suck, but you have a bond with your horse, so you will be able to ride out (haha) anything that happens.

  5. Getting lessons isn't giving up! Even the most experienced riders need some eyes on the ground, because even though it might *feel* like you're doing what you're supposed to, your position or timing can still be off and only some experienced eyes can tell you what's going on as they watch you. If you can find an instructor who will listen to your plans and your goals and the program you're trying to follow and help you do just that, you can still be "in charge" of your own program and make much better progress than you would trying to figure it all out on your own. As for the lack of bending from your leg - three possibilities come to mind. 1) Greta doesn't know what you're asking because she's not been trained to bend off the leg before. 2) Greta doesn't know what you're asking because you're not asking in a way that makes sense to her. A good instructor can help you with either of these issues. 3) Greta knows what you're asking but doesn't bend because she's a bit stiff. In this case, a good instructor can help you narrow it down to this cause, then checking saddle fit, stretching exercises and a chiropractic adjustment will probably help. Good luck and don't get discouraged! Sometimes it takes a while to build the requisite strength to make these changes in gait.


Comments are greatly appreciated and, most importantly, Greta loves you for commenting ♥

Thanks guys!