Essays of an Equestrian

So much as happened with me in the past month it leaves me in a bit of awe.

I’ve been busy creating and writing for various applications and I’m humbled and honored that my work has gained such wide attention and for most, acceptance.

As I write, my animated “Dressage Queen” has surpassed 14,000 hits which I find positively amazing. When I learned of the caliber of riders seeing it, I was blown away, a little scared even.

For a moment I felt like “What’s an ammie like me doing in a dressage world like this?” Then, I figured it out. My voice seems to be the voice of many, so despite my lack of gold medals, my voice and all our voices seem to have some relevance to a lot of people.

I understand that this bestows upon me great responsibility and I will be sure to do my best in my small role within our global equestrian community.

Dressage For The Rest of usBetween animations, blogs and writing articles for publication I certainly have been very busy. But it’s a good busy if you know what I mean! I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you – all my friends and readers – very, very much for your support. It’s truly appreciated.

Like most amateurs, I wish there were more time for riding. Trying to work that delicate balance between all my endeavors is a challenge for me as it is for many of you.

That said, I haven’t been able to ride as much as I would normally and haven’t done so for a number of months. There have been no lessons, no clinics, and no shows. With cool fall weather to arrive shortly, I wanted to get back into the schwung of things and so have gotten the itch to reverse the trend of not riding.

To that end I recently had a friend video me riding my horse. It was a very easy ride to mark the starting point of another concerted training effort, a beginning for horse and rider looking to resume their former level of performance.

I asked for critique from respected friends and colleagues and today I was able to implement their suggestions.

I found myself very pleasantly having a great ride! I worked my horse nicely forward into our correct tempo, had great rhythm, and I was able to follow him with my body better than I ever had before.

I think Herr Zettl would have been pleased.

The ride was easy. In fact, it was so effortless it felt as if I must be cheating, as if I were doing it wrong. But my horse’s responses were telling me it was right…. Gloriously right.

My horse is the boss after all. Like an instrument, if he’s played right, we make beautiful music together. I just have to listen to him. Play him wrong and we’re a Yoko Ono ballad.

I was loose in the saddle (always a great day when an aging body is able to move and flex freely) and sat an awesome lengthening. It was the first lengthening that felt right. In fact, near the end of the first lengthening I was so pleasantly excited that I stiffened for a moment and lost the oneness with my horse for a moment as I realized that this was the best we’ve ever been. But then a wonderful thing happened, I was able to correct it without missing a beat, another small personal triumph. I did this just by allowing my knees to flex and follow his body.

I did one more extension, half the diagonal. I didn’t want to push things just to see if the first extension was a fluke. I learned it was no fluke. I took a walk break to reflect.

I’ve never been (on this horse) successful at sitting his big trot before but today it felt as if we were gliding. Please don’t understand this to mean sitting the trot to stay on. I’m talking about sitting the trot in a way that you’re in perfect unison with the horse for each and every step. Sitting the trot in a way a person could be proud of, and I am.

Listening to my friends and heeding their advice I was able to ride my best and my horse reacted magnificently, lightly, and enthusiastically. Truly it was Nirvana.

The rest of the ride followed suit with everything just flowing. Shoulder fore blossomed to lovely shoulder in. My canter-walk transitions were the best they’ve ever been, and my downward transitions from trot glided so smoothly and instantly, I was reminded of my reining horse days and the feeling of a sliding stop.

I have found myself actually wondering if I just imagined it. Then I remember to trust my instincts, trust that I know at least this much. Trust that I can tell correctly when things are going good.

Of course now this means I have to get this on video, or else my friends might not believe me!

Reflecting on this ride caused my thoughts to wander. I found myself considering the journey my horse and I have shared. I always reflect on my rides, just as much as I visualize the next one. So much of riding is mental after all.

I thought about our journey and how it had such a rocky start. I considered how easily things flow now. There is no drama. I go to the barn, get the horse, brush him, saddle him up and ride. Our rides go well, sometimes wonderfully. After the ride I care for him, love on him a bit and then put him cozily away. Every day is this way. Every day is easy.

How very fortunate I am.

Later on I was speaking with another friend on the phone and she was mentioning some people she knew and all the drama they are constantly having with their horses. I said “Gee, they always seem to have a problem. Isn’t there a day when they or those horses don’t have issues?”

Then I thought of my own horse and how things are going so smoothly and how I feel like the luckiest horse person alive.

I’m lucky to have access to friends who are not only knowledgeable but who are friends enough to tell me where I need to improve. Thank goodness they respect me enough to not just blow smoke up my ass, but to tell me how I can get better.

Tomorrow shall bring us another ride, another opportunity. Tomorrow our minds shall join again, and if they join enough, our bodies will follow.

And for this I am excited…… and I should be!

 

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The good will of the horse is like the scent of a rose. Once it is gone, it is gone forever.