Monday, June 27, 2016


I've spent a lot of time in the past couple months watching dressage.  I watch videos at home, I watch tests at shows, I watch clinics and lessons with other people.  I also talk a lot of dressage with Trainer A.  Not so much the rest of the populace, but definitely with Trainer A.  And my poor hubby, but he doesn't really have an emergency exit to get out of it.

Trying to not hear more about my 8 for a half 10m circle

While spectating at GMHA, I saw a very stark difference between two types of rides, particularly in the first test for any level.  We watched Fourth 1 when we were too lazy to move after the FEI tests.  The first ride was lovely (Theo's doppleganger) and the rider was a very competent amateur adult.  She dealt with the mistakes tactfully, rewarded the good movements, and also had a drool worthy seat.  Someone has clearly spent thousands of hours in the saddle, learning to be one with their rather average but cute, extremely well trained, willing mount.  They got a good score and she left the ring smiling.

The next rider entered the ring and I immediately poked my copilot so she'd look up from her book.  Was that gorgeous horse . . . inverted?  As soon as the salute was done and the trot began, I understood why the horse was coming above the bit.  Good heavens, I could see daylight between this rider and the saddle as she tried to sit!  The extended made me gasp, I thought she was going to come off.  The horse's back was dropped down, his neck braced in a false frame behind his double bridle.  He was clearly well trained, able to do all of the movements despite what was going on in the saddle, but he wasn't happy about it.  Wasn't this Fourth Level?

I talked to Trainer A later and she nodded.  She'd seen several like that and talked to some other trainers that were disturbed by the upswing of this situation.  Adult ammies that want to move up the levels but don't want/can't put the time in the saddle (career, children, whatever).  So they get put on a fully trained horse.  It's too much horse, so the double goes on even though the rider is balancing off of their hands.  Then send them in the ring to be Fourth Level riders.  She even commented that she could see some of it at the lower levels, with riders buying gorgeous, talented horses that are too much for them and moving up before they're really ready.  Nervous riders, false frames, and tight holds.

It's a good time for me to think about this, since on the drive home yesterday Trainer A and I were excitedly talking about our winter plans.  Write my First Level freestyle, lock down Second Level movements to get them ready to go out in public late next season, polish First 3 with an eye toward doing First Level next year for the regionals, so many plans.

Theo votes for carrots, trail rides, and naps for next year

I can't move up to Second until I'm so comfortable at the sitting trot that I don't even have to think about it anymore.  When I'm nervous, I tense up.  In the past, it messed with my ability to sit the canter at shows.  I've pretty much got that under control now, I can sit the canter in the show ring, but I'll be fighting the same fight to sit the trot.  Until I can do First 3 in competition all sitting and not destroy my position score, I don't get to move up.  Which sucks when we're schooling almost all of Second 1 now and I want to make all of these plans!  But I have to have the ground rules to keep myself from rushing.  I refuse to be the rider that makes people gasp when they go across the diagonal because they're getting air time. 

Guess who is going to be spending half of the winter on a lunge line with no reins or stirrups? 


  1. I know exactly what you mean. It is one of my greatest fears to be that rider.

  2. That is tough as an adult ammy. It's so much harder to find/make yourself put in the time to improve simple things like your seat or hands when you just want to use the time you have to do the fun things.