It's been a while since I have blogged. Since then, I have ridden in a few shows and I would love to say we have been winning everything, but the truth is, it has been a huge learning experience. Just turning up has for me meant we won.
I have had plenty of lessons, and do quite well with an instructor. Unfortunately, it all falls to pieces when it's up to us on the big day.
I could blame my beautiful Emma, but honestly, the problem lies solely at my feet. I get so tense that I can't remember the test. This, in turn, gets Em tense, and she starts short stepping and shying. However, I never tell her off after a dressage test. Instead, it is always "good girl well done." After all, she is trying. So, off I go for more lessons. I get told good transitions, your stepping out well, keep it up, tighten your contact and breathe.
After our last dressage test, I quit the test half way through, as I just could not remember it and I was making it horrible for Em. I never want her to hate going to shows. After all the tests were done, I had a lesson with the judge, think I wasn't shaking in my boots!
What do you know, she says to me, what does this pony do that frightens you so much. I told her she has bucked me off a few times and really hurt me once not so long ago. The instructor said, "Well then, I want you to trot around me in a 10 meter circle." She then told me my horse has been ridden by children in the past and therefore knows how to scare me. She proceeded to tell me that I needed softer hands (all my other instructors have always told me my hands were too soft). Off we go trotting in a circle and she says to stop, for this pony needs a crop. What happens when you use a crop on her you might ask? Em will do a buck kick if you hit her on the butt, so she said to just tap her on the shoulder. Well that worked a treat in getting her to track better. Next, she said that she was behind the leg, then explained that it meant that I was rising to the trot before Em was striking off. I thought I was doing fantastic transitions, but instead I was letting my horse down.
Next we went to canter, something I haven't been able to do for some time because of my fear of getting bucked off again. Em had learned that if she shook her head, I would back off. Another bad habit I was teaching my girl. So the instructor said to me, "I don't want you to work at canter; I want you to think canter, and believe it or not, we popped into canter with no problems at all."
Next we worked on my hands. All she said was, "Closer together, I don't know where all you riders get this hand spread from." The second I brought my hands closer together, Em went into frame and moved forward beautifully. The instructor also said that with my inside leg, I had to imagine I was trying to touch my outside leg, so I kept good constant pressure, and she knew I was there.
All this was achieved within 20 minutes. I have since been practicing this by myself and everything is now coming together. The next show is in September, and I am confident that this time we will beat this silly test, and then it will be carrots all round.
It is amazing to have an instructor who trains horses for the elite levels, come 700 km's to our small town and impart so much knowledge in such a wonderfully easy and understandable manner. Oh and she did say that if we had of worked in our test the way we did in our lesson we would have placed??
I love my horse for always teaching me to trust her, and for trusting me. I thank all those instructors who take the time to teach the unknown lessons in plain simple English. Enjoy, love, and cherish every moment of every day that we get to spend with these magnificent animals.