Not A Fast Learner

In many areas of my life, I'm a pretty quick learner.

I'm a very fast reader, I can master new computer programs in record speed, and most tasks only take a few repetitions for me to get down pat. Anything I'd like to learn, I can teach myself in fairly short order.

Except, it seems, riding.

I've been doing it for 22 years now, and I still mostly suck. The journey towards adequacy is a long, long road.

Case in point, YOU'D THINK by now that I would have a solid understanding of how to put my pony on the outside rein at all gaits and ask him to move through over his back. We've been doing this dressage thing a while now, and even showed at First without totally embarrassing ourselves. In theory, this is a thing that I should be able to do at this point without much thought.

But it took me nearly 40 minutes of riding the other night to figure out that, especially in the canter, Dino needs me to release with the inside rein while keeping my leg on and my core solid and supportive to allow him to really use his back. Not, as I'd been doing for years, releasing my inside rein, belly dancing, leaning forward, and dropping our collective balance down a hole. Or just hanging on both reins for dear life and jamming him into a frame with my seat and spurs. Both of those techniques get me a pony who might appear "on the bit", but the restless, tense chomping of his mouth gives away the truth of his lack of roundness and throughness.

"Get it together, woman"
On Wednesday night, however, something finally clicked in my brain and the countless different ways my trainer has told me to GIVE THE INSIDE REIN FORWARD BUT KEEP THE CONTACT AND KEEP YOUR DANG LEG ON actually made sense to me for what seemed like the first time in canter, and I felt a huge shift in Dino's posture. All of a sudden his withers came up to meet me and his hind legs came under his body and his lower neck released and he stopped chomping, and I understood HOW I was getting him to do it. It wasn't 80% luck, like usual, it was the actual, thoughtful, correct use of my aids.

Ah. So, this is how we do the dressage.

Perhaps in another 22 years I'll have learned a bit more.


  1. hey - none of that 'i suck' talk young lady!!! i would hazard to say you are far more the riding and horsewoman expert now than you were 20 years ago :P

    pretty sure i didn't really know what bend was for like the first 15 years i was riding soooo

  2. Don't be so hard on yourself! But it is kind of life changing when you have a break through like that isn't it?! Congrats on unlocking the button!

  3. I really feel you on this one. Riding well can be SO frustrating especially when you have an epiphany about something you thought you already knew! Sounds like a great breakthrough though...

  4. Oh man, I so feel this! Like, how come such "simple" concepts are so hard?!


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