Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Deathstorm Pondering

This was taken at noon today. No joke.

Zoey after being outside for about a minute. I had to drag her back inside

Anyways, trying to ignore the swirling storm outside and trying me best not to fret about the ponies 10 miles away at the barn, I have been burying my nose in Intro Communication Analysis Application...it is so riveting. I have also been studying the daft language that I cannot grasp, Spanish, and raping my brain with algebra. AND reading blogs! Your blogs provide me with endless hours of procrastination.

Threedaysthreeways blogged an interview with Silva Martin and Eventing Nation referenced it as well.

Silva discussed the importance of riding lower level dressage tests accurately in competition and how the little things matter. I was especially impacted by her statements on keeping calm and moving on. When Yankee was a wee lad he had major issues in the dressage ring. I would always let myself think even before going into the test "This is going to be crap, as usual" and would completely lose it if we had numerous mistakes. Sometimes I would leave the ring crying...it was a bad time for me. It wasn't until after we both got older, wiser and calmer that dressage became less of a worry. But we still have some issues...

Silva notes that the first circle is critical, "A circle shows if the horse is not in that tunnel and if they’re not then they will turn out or they’re not round or they fall apart or drift. First thing is it’s a test of if they’re in balance underneath you." . Popping a shoulder, drifting, swinging hindquarters are all things that haunt us on occasion still. Shoulder pops seem to be prevalent. It is most important to keep the circles balanced since we go straight into extended trot after the first circle. The circle should be preparation for that and I know I don't let it be mst times.

"I’ve been to lots of horse trials at the lower level. A lot of riders go around then at C throw the reins at the horse and the horse goes around with his neck down. Stretching forward and down has to be with a connection." All too often I see this in other riders. Most people can go around BN. N and sometimes T in a fake frame and still do well, but stretchy circles and free walk are mucho importante. You cannot score well with a fake connection, since horses will not stretch into contact when you SLOWLY give. Same as with horses trained properly, if you throw the reins away, they will have no contact to seek. I make the time to practice stretching with my horse, as should all riders!

Speaking of the stretchy..."....The main thing is it shows if the horse is relaxed. You can’t do it with a horse that’s excited or tight in the back. The only way to do it is if the horse is supple underneath you... If you have a hot horse then when you pick up the reins for the medium walk most horses that are a little tense will jog there...We’re so busy practicing trot and canter that the walk gets forgotten. Which is dumb, really, it’s easy to practice"

This happens all the time to me. I go to pick up the reins from a walk break and Yankee tenses his back and tosses his head. He anticipates working hard with picking up the reins so I try to vary the way I do it. One hand at a time works usually. I can never figure out why he is tense though. All his gear fits, he is fit, not sore...anyways. This one really hits home. I school the canter more than any gait and our walk is very blah and not energized at all. I think I have spent too many years trying to get Yanks calm, that I have trained all the impulsion out of him. I went about relaxing him the wrong way, and I feel I've ruined that part of him. Trying to get it back is frustrating.

"If something really bad goes wrong that’s out of your control, if you’re thrown off your game, the important thing is don’t quit on the test. Put it behind you and move on"

EXCEPTIONALLY difficult Silva. Dressage has ALWAYS been my bane in eventing; I had always been absolutely fearless jumping too, but lately that has changed too...In dressage though none of my horses have been winners. It took years to get Spirit in the low 30s, and thankfully he was a superb jumper, so we never had rails or refusals. Our very first dressage test we scored a 75. Yes that is not a typo. And the judge told me I should not go on with a score that bad. With Yankee, he has always and beautiful gaits, while Spirit had rough, untimely ones that eventually got better, but Yanks lacks the calm to BE exceptional. If he feels he can't do something, he loses it. And then I lose it. I instantaneously tell myself I am a failure as a trainer, rider and competitor and the rest of the test suffers. I go around zombie-esqe and barely finish. I cannot get a grip when something goes wrong in a test, I forget the next movement, I forget how to ride like a dressage person, I forget to keep my horse inbetween the aids.

This is something I really would like to get better doing.

But Silva also made me think about something else. She made me realize everyone has these problems no matter how fancy a horse or how rich they are or what trainers they use. And I feel proud knowing my horse is not fancy, I am not rich and I do not have a trainer and yet I am still here showing my guts out and going for it.

I will always keep trudging on, and I know things will get better, I just have to take steps back and figure the problems out.

Back to basics!

I suggest taking a peek at this article BTW.


  1. Sounds like a good interview. Good luck with school...

  2. Me too- not rich, no trainer, no fancy horse. I actually forgot where I was in my (only) recognized event and it was BEGINNER NOVICE. The test could not be any simpler. I was bending in a corner ready to trot down the long side and realized I was supposed to be circling.

    At the end of my tests I can't even remember how they went. I have no idea what my horse was doing (except going off course, spooking at the rocks hitting the fencing, refusing to get too near the rail), if he was on the bit, engaged, or balanced. So if someone says, "nice test" I'm like, "really?"


There was an error in this gadget