Nothing is happening!

Nothing. Is. Happening.  These words just may have played a role in a recent series of text messages to Lauren after a few perfectly OK, but decidedly uninspired rides.

For the uninitiated, dressage training looks something this: like long periods of not much, punctuated by three strides of brilliance, followed by another period of Very Boring Things.  I know this.  This is not a new concept to me.  Yet a few weeks ago, I had a few moments of panic after one of those rides where nothing went terribly wrong, but nothing went particularly right either.

As an amateur who’s never ridden at this level, much less trained a horse new to this level, it can be so incredibly difficult to know if the work you’re slogging away at, day in and day out, is actually making any kind of difference.  Quite often, it feels like there is absolutely no change from day to day, week to week.  You question your sanity in spending exorbitant amounts of money on this sport, especially when you’re braving freezing temperatures to ride in circles for what seems like hours.

Cardoon Winter 2016

Cardoon wishes that I’d let him have the winter off.  This FEI stuff is hard.

Its been terrific to be boarding at Lauren’s for a few months because aside from the nice indoor and great care, I have eyes on the ground for more rides than not, and that makes a difference.  If nothing else, it keeps me from spiraling too far into my own put of despair.

Lauren and her assistant trainers Natasha and Lisa have both assured me that Cardoon looks and feels great and that we just are where we are.  One day, if I keep picking away at the little things, collected pirouette canter will just happen and I’ll wonder why I was so worried.

I did have a small realization today when I rode and we practiced some canter half pass, a movement which seemed so incredibly hard at exactly this time last year.  It felt at the time like we did so many bad half passes, replete with bad riding and bad horse behavior.  It felt like we’d never, in a million years, be able to do one of these in a respectable manner.

Yet tonight, we made lovely canter half pass in both directions and worked on making it just a little crisper, a little more upright and slightly better positioned.  But the basic movement was no longer the struggle it was last year.  I don’t know when that happened, but it gives me hope that I’m not destined to flounder in this no man’s land of bad pirouettes and crooked collected canter forever.

In the meantime, I’ll try to embrace the grind and punctuate it with fun things like hill work, cavaletti and trail rides.



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