Brrrrr! It’s cold in New England and as a dedicated dressage rider I wear layers. Lots and lots of layers. Just call me, Michelin Man!

It’s amazing that I can even move. I’m wearing four layers and that’s just the top half of me. Uh-oh. I need to use the bathroom. Sigh. You’d think I’d know by now.

I hide in the old barn in my quest to stay warm. It has sliding doors on either end but one has been sealed off with hay bales. Quite cozy and no wind. I just might shed a layer…nah. As I groom and tack, my body begins to thaw. I’ve discarded my coat and debate about the vest. Hmmm, I’ll keep it for now. You just never know.

We spend quite a bit of time warming up in a power walk. Then as we trot around I notice that the horse is stiffer on the left side. Just like me. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the cold. The alternative of course is that we’re more…mature. Yeah, that’s it. Mature.

I can’t quite get my aids coordinated on the left side. I pull it all together, then lose it. I’m lacking consistency. The horse is falling out to the left. How do I know? Well, I’m scraping my stirrup against the wall. I truly believe in riding on the rail but this isn’t exactly what I had planned. I’m not using my outside leg enough. Push that barrel over! Move! That’s better.

I lose the connection again through the corner. And the next corner. The short sides are going to be the death of me. I haven’t planned well enough or far enough in advanced for this horse. We pick up a 20 meter circle and my instructor is on me about the connection. She wants more! More rounding! I….can’t….do….it.

“I’m sorry but I suck today.” Huff, puff. Cold? What cold.

“No, you don’t. You’re doing great. I just want more. I’ve been after you, to keep you after him, so we can get more.”

Huh, imagine that. Another layer.