Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frustrated in a Field

I have not posted in a bit because we have been going at a rapid pace since hitting Florida. Things have been going great and the first event has come and gone with most of the horses performing well for their first outing but today I had a very frustrating day.

Today started our winter training sessions with Captain Mark Philips. I have been very fortunate for the last few years and have maintained a spot on the listed horse and rider combinations that benefit from funded lessons, recieving some training grants and last year was able to travel to Holland to compete. As we all know potential is easy to sell but at some point you gotta perform!

After Holland I was dropped from High Performance to Developing Rider due to a less than good show jumping round at Boekelo. It took me a bit to wrap my head around the decision due to the fact that I feel my horse is better than that one show jump round.. But that being said I just need to be better and not give anyone a reason not to put me on a list. So I kept my mouth shut and have been more than dedicated to fill the gaps in Tates training.... no excuses.

Since being in florida I have taken a few lessons with David who promptly told me my hands are technically not good now and that with Tate I need to keep his frame up, get him to take the bit and "sit at the end of the reins" . Tate is incredibly difficult to get to take a contact he tends to curl and sit right behind the bit... This makes communticating in the dressage ring like bad cell phone reception and you are trying to get your point across when you know only every other word is getting through. So in attempts to get my hands more steady to encourage Tate to take the rein I have been riding with a dressage whip held horizontally in both hands and with a very short rein. I felt like things were going very well or at least headed in the right direction until today...

Upon trotting into the ring today with the Captain his first comments were to put tate lower, to lenghthen my reins and that my arms are now incredibly stiff. Since starting tate back this winter I have been looking forward to the sessions to prove how much Tate and I had improved .. this was not going to happen today. Seems while trying to keep my hands still my whole arm has become stiff and in riding Tate so "up" I have lost some ability to have him push from behind.. While trying to figure out exactly what my priority should be in the beggining of the lesson I was slow to react and the captain was quick to point out that by the time he has to tell me to do something its already three strides to late. Frustration is setting in....

By the end of the lesson things started to click I got my prioritys straight, my arms bent and my horse pushing through. I stopped and expressed to Mark that I felt I needed a more concrete plan with Tates warm up. We always get somewhere at the end of the lesson but the begining always feels inconsistant, like the conversation is always changing. He promplty told me "the conversation will always change but the feeling should be the same". With that I came home and watched clips from last years training sessions and this years and realized that Tate is a completley different and better horse than last year. When uping your game and pushing yourself slightly out of your comfort zone one tends to feel as though they are actually regressing. Last year I remember not being able to complete a half pass the full lenth of the arena. Mark l said "it doesnt have to be perfect, get two good steps then move on" reconizing Tates greeness. Today I got in trouble because Tates shoulder fell in about a half an inch in the half pass that was accomplished in half of the arena. Mark asked if I felt it I said " a little bit" he responded " there is no such thing as a little bit, do it again".

The "conversation" is changing but my "feeling" of being hungry to win and desperate to improve is the same and sometimes frustrating. Today I left the ring near tears. Tonight I am willing tomorrow to come so I can do it better. I am also trying to keep some perspective so that I dont waste energy being frustrated but accept that to improve one must keep pushing outside of their comfort zone. So cheers to being uncomfortable and to good cell phone reception! xx


  1. I was sitting here trying to write something just as heartfelt as you did and I can't. But, what I can say is that you are a true BAMF and I am truly inspired that for every gram of deterrence set on your plate, you fire back with a ton of perseverance!

  2. I know the exact feeling!! I leased a horse for 3 years, and he hated dressage, hated it... I had to work my butt off to get him to even think about taking the contact. I never felt like I got anywhere with him, that my riding was just getting worse. I had to quit leasing him due to school and finacial concerns and cut back down to just one horse, my old (not always so) faithful dressage horse I'd always had trouble riding correctly. Well, lo and behold, I get back on him and start schooling dressage again, and... it's EASY! Ridiculously easy, I've even been getting flying changes out of him, a skill he had stubbornly refused me for years. Those 3 frustrating years spent schooling dressage on my lease horse, during which time it felt I was only regressing as a rider, in fact made me that much better, and able to ride my other horse that much better.

    I think, every day you sit on a horse you improve, whether it feels like it or not :)

  3. Thanks for such an honest and heartfelt post. I enjoyed reading it, tho I am sure you did not enjoy living it. We all think we are alone with these things. Turns out, we are not.