Don’t let things stagnate

OK, on the scale of 1-10, how stagnate do you ride?

Let’s face it– to the outside observer, dressage training is about as exciting as watching cement dry. But from the saddle, do you ride like drying cement or do you ride like you’re doing a World Cup freestyle?

It is incredibly easy to over drill things. Maybe you’re perpetually trying to get the horse in front of your leg; maybe she is as stiff as a 2×4 or it feels like your hands have been strapped to lead weights. Whatever it is, you get caught up in the yucky feeling and to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again…and then again on the other side.

Yet, I realized today there are other options available.

Instead of making pushing through the yucky feeling the focal point of my ride, I let those things be a footnote.

The point became the journey, the dance. The point became the responsiveness to my aids as we moved through the arena: serpentines, lateral work, transitions, circles, and whatever else I felt like. When ever I encountered the yucky feeling, I addressed it and then moved on quickly. Remember, footnote not focal point.

When I chose the World Cup freestyle over cement drying, I was free to experiment, to keep testing the limits and pushing the bounds. I could address something (like stiffness), find improvement, let it go and move on to something else exciting. When I came back to subject (like stiffness), the improvement was still there.

I have to ask– when you ride, do you seek increments of improvement or do you repeat until something is at a certain level?