It’s not perfect, but it’s progress

I don’t post a whole lot about dressage on here. Sometimes I’ll write a little bit about our lessons, and I do quick-and-dirty recaps of our dressage rides at shows, but there isn’t usually much media. Partly because don’t get a lot of dressage media, especially at lessons. Partly because when I DO get media, all I see is what’s wrong.

When you forget your polos at home and your horse has to wear his jump boots to your dressage lesson

The dressage on Henry has always been a struggle. It took us almost a year to where I could put my leg on him without him exploding, about 2 years before he really even accepted any contact, and almost 3 before he’d quit curling up behind the bit and chomping like crazy as his default. Cantering used to get him so worked up that the rest of our ride was spent on getting him to relax again. He’s a downhill horse who’s default is tense and tight and anticipatory, and it probably always will be. That’s just his nature.

Even though I know how far we’ve actually come, I can’t help but to always see how much farther there is to go. That’s just MY nature. I’m like that about everything when it comes to my riding. So when I look at pictures or video from dressage and my hands have gone rogue, or I’m sitting to the outside, or I’m hunched forward, or I’m not sitting correctly… I just don’t even want to watch it. Will I EVER get my damn hands up and sit properly? Who knows. I’m not very confident in our abilities when it comes to the dressage.


But I think I’m probably doing us both a disservice with that. Newsflash: dressage is hard. It’s especially hard for someone from a h/j background riding a horse that is not naturally well-suited to the sport. This year I have tried to be better about looking for the good just as much as I look for the bad. That’s hard for me, I’m naturally super self-critical, but I think I’ve gotten a little better at seeing the positive.

I finally got some dressage media last night (thanks Diane!) and while I’m not like… overjoyed at what I’m seeing, I don’t totally hate it. Do we need more “jump” in the canter half pass? Yes, always. Do the haunches lead sometimes? Yeah, I’m really good at over-riding the hind. Is the bend always correct? No, sometimes I do too much and sometimes I do too little. Will we ever have a lengthening where the tempo doesn’t get fast? I mean, who knows. Will I ever SIT UP AND PICK UP MY HANDS? Depends on how much duct tape you’ve got.

I could go on. There is a lot of room for improvement.


Henry is light years more rideable though, and I think I’m doing better at at least feeling and trying to correct my mistakes. He’s getting a bit stronger and I’m getting a bit more educated. Of course, every once in a while we’re both still total shit sandwiches, so there’s that.

He cute though. He real cute.

I think it’s time to rip off the bandaid with the dressage media though. Just because I see a lot that needs to be fixed doesn’t mean that I should hate looking at it. This is a journey, after all, and it will never be perfect. I’ve got to focus on the progress we’ve made, not the endless pursuit of perfection. My critical eye needs to legit chill.

So for those who really want to bore themselves to tears, I stuck the clips together into one video. This is mostly for me, though. This is going here and it’s going to live here, and maybe someday I’ll be able to come back to it and feel like we’ve come so far past this point. But for now, I’m going to focus on the fact that THIS is a hell of a lot of progress from where we started, and there are actually some good things happening.