dressage, Dressage Struggles, dressage training

Forward & Back, That’s How Dressage Works

After months of working on keeping the right rein, today I gave it away. Not totally, mind you, but I had to ask for it (sometimes firmly), then give. Giving is hard when you’ve set your mind on taking.
At home, out of the saddle, I’m trying to transmit that message down … from brain, through neck, into right shoulder/arm/hand. Ask, then give. Ask, then give.

Exhilerating cold weather riding. Photo by Andrew Martin

Exhilerating cold weather riding. Photo by Andrew Martin


We’re at a new level of conscious incompetence, so I know we’re on the right track. Grasping a new thought and gasping at the difficulty often come hand in hand.
Collected canter is super hard — but a breakthrough from 1st to 2nd level. Thankfully, going to the right is easier than going to the left, so I get something of a break.
To the left, where I’ve tended to give away the right (outside) rein, it’s time for me to try to add in some finesse. Ask/give. Ask firmly if need be, give.
While our canter work is steadily improving, there are some really rough moments. It feels like we’re going backwards, but I know it’s the way forward.
Sometimes it’s me, my wavering attention, aids that aren’t prompt, a seat with moments of insecurity. Sometimes it’s Micah, saying ‘This is your idea, not mine … if there’s a way out, I’m smart enough to take it.’
Forwards and back. Just a reminder to myself and the rest of you who struggle, this really is part of the process.