Flipping through the April issue of Practical Horseman I ran across the “Dressage for Jumpers” article by Sandra Oliynyk. Olympian Robert Dover says, “…It’s the planning. Riding a perfect circle is one of the hardest things to do.” He recalled the first time he worked with former US dressage coach Col. Bengt Ljungquist and rode through a corner. “An hour-and-a-half later, I was sweating like a pig and still not doing it right.”

That says it all! If an Olympian says it’s hard then I guess it isn’t all in my head.

Yesterday’s lesson was better. I had the ring all to myself for the entire lesson. We trotted 20 meter circles and figure eights. I had a few great change of reins and a few moments where I felt a wonderful response while using my inside leg to outside rein.

Then everything went downhill and I’d go too far into the corner. Again, and again, and need I say…again. (Maybe my trainer’s a magnet because that’s where she was standing.) It seemed that every time she spoke my concentration went out the window. I would find myself making a correction to my position or aid only to find her saying it out loud. I think I need her to let me try first, then correct.

In the center circle I was riding an egg instead of a perfect circle, as usual, sigh. My trainer called me on it constantly. I think it ramped up my anxiety each time. I was on the verge of tears when she came out and placed markers on the circle for me. Then I continued, swearing under my breathe the whole time.

Looking ahead about half way around the circle does help but I still found the mare falling out. Of course I was collapsing on the inside, which increased the falling out. It was helpful to think of riding from touching point to touching point as a leg yield. Also if I remembered to keep my elbows glued to my hips it was easier to keep her light in my hands and in the outside rein.

Keep at it and don’t quit yet.