The Slow Climb To Greatness

Facebook's recently-instituted "Memories" feature is a double-edged sword.

On one hand, it's wonderful to open my feed in the morning and see a photo from years ago of a happy time - parties, horse shows, weddings, good rides, cute pictures of my dog - I love being reminded of these things that brought me enough joy to want to share online.

On the other, it's honestly a little depressing and a lot frustrating to look at jumping pictures from last year.

Case in point, my wall calendar for November... 
Will I ever be able to jump that chevron so well and with such confidence again?

Seeing where we were last fall, cruising around BN in schooling sessions with confidence, working through mistakes in competition, and beginning to play with a handful of Novice fences and questions, it's sad and frustrating and defeating to admit that that this fall's goal is to get around one last HT at Elementary with no jump penalties. Early this spring I even toyed with the (probably insane) idea of a move-up to Novice by the end of the season if we could stay on a trajectory of steady improvement.

What move-up dreams are made of.. July 2015
Oh, how the  mighty have fallen.

But the thing about irrational fear and spectacular failure is that they force one to go back to basics, to rebuild fundamental skills, to fill in training holes that burst wide open in the heat of the moment.

I've spent all summer and most of the fall doing that with Dino, especially in our dressage work. I've come to new understandings of concepts I thought I had grasped fully, worked hard to change bad habits, and moved steadily towards becoming a rider who trains correctly and classically instead of crooked and backwards, molding my pony to respond to my own flawed riding. We've also taken up foxhunting, which brings me more incredible joy than almost anything I've ever done on horseback, improves my confidence and trust in Dino, and makes my EuroPony happier than anything in the world.

And it's paid off. Big time.

When I look at photos of our flatwork a year or so ago, and even photos from earlier this year, and compare them to photos of our flatwork now, there is definite improvement to be seen. The things I was excited about last year pale in comparison to our great moments this year. And as I've become better educated and slowly started to shift my riding from "really incorrect but looks pretty OK" to "actually correct", I'm seeing that the moments I was really pleased with last year had a lot of tension and lacked throughness and balance. We're starting to unlock a vastly better connection, and THAT is exciting!

We've gone from all kinds of tense and braced and unbalanced:

Still one of my favorite photos, but we've improved! 
Could his back BE any tighter?!

Weeping and gnashing of teeth
I mean his head is down and his hocks are bending, but lordy that eyeball and mouth tell a story, don't they?

To our current state, approaching something like relaxation, uphill balance, connection, and harmony:

We're not kicking ass and taking names at events by any means, but we're making a slow climb towards that goal by way of taking a step back and re-learning how to do things the right way. Little by little, we're starting to look like we know what we're doing.



  1. Slow and steady wins the race :)

  2. The progress though 😍 I also have a love/hate relationship with FB's "on this day" feature, so I can commiserate!

  3. Riding is always 3 steps forward and then two back. It's so humbling! But you two have made so much progress this past season! It's really not the size of the jump that means anything. Any one can survive a big jump. But that's not the same as actually riding to that fence.

  4. Incredible progress this year! And, more importantly, you're both having fun!

  5. You are looking more and more like a team and having a greater partnership. That is what everyone should strive for!

  6. That last photo-WOW! You guys have a come a long way and it will pay off in spades.

  7. Horses feel like a constant 1 step forward 2 steps back. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures this winter though!

  8. Though tough you will never regret doing right by your horse even when it feels like it comes at personal sacrifice. All we can ask for is progress.

  9. Yup I know exactly how you feel too. Can we just put 2016 to bed already?? Seriously tho you and Dino have busted your collective asses this year solidifying your communication and foundation. And it's definitely paying off!!

  10. You know, horses are great teachers. They always humble us exactly when we start to think we're pretty hot stuff, and remind us just how much we still have to learn. It hurts to fall, and the climb back is frustrating and agonizing. But when you begin to see the peak again, you realize that's not the same peak at all, but something even better, even higher.

    Keep on keeping on -- I know you and Dino will get to where you want to be, you're just taking a different path than you imagined to get there <3

  11. I hate the memories feature on Facebook, mainly because it always pops up with photos of Carlos, and that was mainly back when it was fresh so I turned the damn thing off. Training horses is a lot like rollercoasters, so many ups and downs and switch backs, hard climbs and quick falls, but at the end of the day its a thrill and an adventure and gets you pumping for more (Except me, I hate rollercoasters so this analogy doesn't work that well after all.)

  12. Slow and steady gets you there! And wow - the difference is so noticeable. Y'all will get where you want to be.


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