Thursday, February 4, 2016


News flash:  dressage-ing is hard.  HARD.

I mean, in theory it all seems pretty and happy.  It's all about balance and harmony and lightness.  And then you read the test.  Well, okay, that seems fine.  But once you start trying to ride it, you start wanting to hate your life.  The circle is how big and the points go where and wait, what do you mean you want us still on a contact?  And then canter right after?  I have to memorize this?  What are you smoking?!

Today's lesson was on the opening to Trainer 3, the shallow serpentine.  I'll admit, I haven't been practicing this test at all even though its the one I'm supposed to be qualifying for regionals.  I've been playing with the First Level moves most of the winter.  When I was an eventer/hj rider, the shallow serpentine was a breeze.  It's not even a full serpentine, who cares?  It's kind of a drunk line, then you worry about the canter.  Oh, contrare, mes amis!  It turns out that it is actually a detailed, fussy sort of a move that's just waiting for you to try to improve your score.  Then it rears it's ugly head and hisses like a beast from the very bowels of hell.

I'm going to need all of the accuracy points I can get, so I was determined to learn to ride every step of this thing.  I guess I can be proud of myself that I didn't actually start crying once I realized what I was facing.

So, you go down centerline, turn left, and then pop off of the rail like you're going across the diagonal.  At that point, you need a left flex, because duh.  Then you do something like a step of straight, then shift to a right flex so you can get on the centerline again.  You do three strides going straight down the centerline.  Then you head back to the right, but almost immediately go back to straight for a step, then set up your left flex so you can survive the turn when you get back to the side of the ring.  Got it?  Good!  Now do it in the small arena, not the big one, because it's winter and the outdoor still has a sheet of ice on it.

Also, do it on a horse that thinks left flex is dumb and flex while maintaining impulsion is especially dumb.

Theo and I did these serpentines for half of our lesson, trying to find and maintain all of the flexes necessary without losing forward.  Both of us were at our mental breaking points by the end.  There's a reason they usually chuck Training 3 in the big arena.  Doing it in the little arena would result in too many alcoholics.  How can something so simple be so darn hard?  Wasn't Training level supposed to be inviting or some such nonsense?

After pushing through the mental wall and digging deep, papi will be getting a stretchy, no pressure ride tomorrow.  I think we'll both need it.  My head hurts while I sit and draw out where my flex is supposed to change and where I'm supposed to hit centerline.  We have a ride/review/ride on Saturday with a visiting instructor.  I think Trainer A wants us to not embarrass her. 

I should re-learn that test.  I can't remember any of the canter departs, and that's kind of important.


  1. oh dressage.... i have zero clue how i'm gonna learn my upcoming tests ugh

  2. you can do it! Rather than thinking of it as a series of discrete movements think of it as a flowing pattern (analog vs digital as it were).

    Love the graphic.

  3. Is it weird that I thought the squiggle was easier than circles? I am not the circle queen.