Dressage has been a journey in self discovery.
“Oh, gee. Here she goes.”

You’re thinking it aren’t you? Huh, aren’t you? I know you are.
And no, I can’t read minds. At least, I don’t think so…
Only boots but that’s another post.

Now, where was I? Oh, yeah…
Would you like to know what I’ve discovered?
No? Too bad. I’m going to tell you anyway.

What I’ve discovered is… (drum roll)

That I need to keep my mind busy.

Gasp! Shocking, I know. Busy.

The busier the better.
Busy, busy, busy.
Why? Because then I’m no longer thinking about riding.
I’m just riding.

Does it make sense at all? No? Let me try to explain it this way.

It seems that I approach riding in the same way that I approached Math in high school. (Discovery!) The easy problems I make more difficult and the difficult problems are easy. Why? I’m not sure. According to my math tutor the easy problems were too easy. I didn’t believe that the answer could be so simple. So in my search for the non-existent trick I always succeeded in over complicating things. Sound familiar? Sigh. It’s amazing that I graduated with both my local and Regents diplomas. Ah, perseverance! (Discovery!)

Still lost? How about a riding example?
Excuse me while I tack up a horse…

Example 1: Cantering a 20 meter circle

Easy, right? So, how come I’m not doing it very well? Sure, I know where the circle is and I can canter but it’s…blah, flat just there. A canter. Ho-hum.

Let’s make it more difficult and see what happens. Let’s add another rider doing the same exercise. And an instructor. Let’s see, she’s got to go somewhere… I know! How about sitting on the mounting block in the corner near K. Uh, that’s my circle. She’s sitting close enough to my path that it stresses me out. Just a wee bit. Why? If I don’t have control I’ll run into her. Running your instructor over is not a good thing. Please avoid at all costs.

What happened? I rode. I rode really well for the three strides near her. A nice balanced canter! Why? Because I had enough half halt and control on the outside rein. Like I said before, busy, busy, busy.

Example 2: Cantering with traffic

There are three riders in the outdoor ring. One of them is me. No big deal. That is until I hear “Pick up a canter, Lee.” Hmm, let’s see. Rider 2 is slightly ahead of me and Rider 3 is slightly ahead of her. (Of course I’m #1.) If I pick up a canter now within two strides I’ll be up Rider 2’s butt. The easy answer is to simply take the inside track and canter. Do I? Nah, too easy. Much to the delight of Rider 2, I decided to canter “A serpentine!”

My instructor shouted out “Level 1, Test 4!” Uh, okay. I even had some really nice balanced canter strides in there. Why? Because I was riding! I had to control every stride with my half halts and outside rein. Fun too!

Take away? My instructor has decided to keep my mind busy. It seems to work for me. What works for you?