Plodding (or plotting) along

Dressage journal, 9-19-2013

As I eased my car through the gate at CARA tonight, I squinted into the glare of the white-hot sun. After four straight nights of hard workouts, I will admit I wasn’t very energetic as I sat in the car driving to CARA.

When I got there, the place was nearly deserted. Even Carol, a Thursday evening regular, was finished, and left a few minutes after I arrived. I saw the girl who has her lesson before me. She was warming up the horse she was riding, but Dorie was nowhere in sight. It kept getting later as I prepared Inky, and still no Dorie. I tacked up anyway; I was either going to have a practice riding session or a lesson, and at that point, I knew I was going to work hard whichever way it was going to be.

Dorie was running late, and she got started on S.’s lesson. I took the time to gradually get Inky warmed up. We walked for quite a while, and did flexibility turns. I thought since I had the time, I would see if the extra time warming up would pay off. It did.

I worked at the trot, working on the sitting trot and the rising trot. I also did a couple of serpentines with Inky to loosen up and get her flexible. Then it was my turn for a lesson. We did lots of circles, serpentines, and leg yields. Leg yields are when you move across the arena diagonally, and I have to push with the correct lower leg when the horse’s corresponding rear leg is in the air (depending on which way I am asking the horse to move) so she can set it down across the other leg. I had to look back a few times to get the rhythm, but I ultimately relied on “feel.” Whatever it was, I did it right because all through the lesson Dorie kept saying, “really good!” That made me feel good, but I still was working very hard to keep Inky collected and working. She is so lazy, and I have to work so hard to keep her moving forward and “rounded” underneath me. I know where I am supposed to be, and where the horse is supposed to be, but making that happen is a challenge. Always.

I suppose I was spoiled by having my own horse, which leads me to the next point, how I am going to get more time to work on this dressage stuff. It’s not like I am right down the street from the riding academy, nor do I have unlimited funds. I sometimes think that I am throwing money away by spending it practicing on a horse I don’t own, money that I could put toward my own horse, either to lease or to buy.

We worked for a long time tonight, about an hour and 15 minutes. My body is finally remembering the subtleties of riding a horse. I feel my back and shoulders tense up, and then I have to make a big effort to loosen up and be flexible. That is the only way to stay “stuck” to the saddle no matter what the gait. There were no breaks during tonight’s session, and it was pretty intense, both physically (for Inky) and mentally (for me). I felt good when I was done, though, because I thought I’d accomplished something.

I still think there must be some way for me to get the practice time in and then progress faster. I don’t want to be riding this same horse a year from now. I don’t even want to be riding this same horse a month or two from now. So, the quest goes on, the hunger for learning faster and progressing faster must be satisfied. I have fall break coming up, so I just might take that time to research in earnest what the solution will be.


By the time I left CARA tonight, a big orange harvest moon was rising in the east. I got a blurry photo of it as I drove my car out of the gate, then stopped to chain it up. I rested my point-and-shoot camera on the car, but it was still too much movement to achieve a sharp photo. Then I drove home listening to that same Birthday Massacre song about “when I was a child it was always this”, and feeling like I was falling down a tunnel of time to connect with my 20-year-old self. I feel like I soon will join hands with her.

All I can do is the best I can, and hope that some solution presents itself – soon.


2 thoughts on “Plodding (or plotting) along

  1. I would normally have encouraged you to keep going and keep practicing. This time, though, your plaintive cries reached across the difference in our interests to prompt this Nike-reminiscent reply. “If you are really going to push for your own horse, just do it.” Maybe slack off to one lesson a month and get your financing ready for the big investment.

    Is it really what you want, though? My daughter got her Master in Education and is now thinking (after 4 years) that teaching is not for her. What’s next for her? She is back in school for some accounting classes. I will let her decide if that is a new passion. For you, though, I would ask what I asked her. What if it cost twice as much as you expect? Is it still worth it? If so, jump in, my friend. Just don’t expect it to be like you remember from thirty years ago.

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