Dressage isn’t my favorite phase of three-day eventing, but I’ve sort of grudgingly accepted it as a thing over the last couple of years. This is entirely due to the influence of my dressage-minded friends. My sometimes-trainer Anne (who I wish was my all-the-time-trainer) is a dressage guru who has pushed me to do more and to appreciate what dressaging does for my jumping. (Hint: it makes it better!) My friend Richal, along with her gaggle of minions/students, has peer-pressured me into joining the local GMO and showing on the schooling show circuit. It’s a vicious cycle. At the rate I’m going, I’ll forget how to jump by the time spring rolls around.
|“Only one of us needs work on dressage, lady, and it isn’t me.”|
Something I saw more than once in the judge’s comments on last year’s tests was the mention of the need to better prepare the horse for transitions. For some reason, alerting Gina to an upcoming change didn’t really occur to me; I mean, I figured if I, like…gave the appropriate cue at the appropriate time, Gina would canter. Or halt. Or walk. Whatever. I don’t know. But in the spirit of improving ourselves (and our scores), I’ve been diligently giving tiny little half-halts before every transition. At first, Gina seemed a little confused about what I wanted her to do; she’s a smart horse, though, and quickly figured out that the tiny half-halt was simply my way of getting her attention before asking her to do something different. This morning, in the freezing cold, under the glare of the indoor arena lights, we had our best upward canter transitions since I can remember.
|“Puh-leeze, I can dressage in my sleep.”|
That story was a good reminder for me: riding and training horses (and yourself!) is a long game. But with enough time, the grass will grow.
|“I’m going to eat any grass that grows.”|