Wednesday 14 November 2018

Dressage Nerd

I think I've mentioned my goal of making time to study outside of lessons, so that I can optimize my lesson time by hopefully spending more time actually Doing The Things rather than having the concepts explained to me for excess amounts of precious lesson minutes.

It's not that my coach isn't genius at explaining things, because she is. I'm just sometimes a bit slow on the uptake when I'm trying to ride and listen at the same time :)
Luckily, it's very easy to watch videos and read articles from the comfort of my couch, lol

Last weekend's study time involved delving back into the Robert Dover Clinic, reading some excellent notes from a couple of different Carl Hester clinics, watching a few classes from the US Dressage Finals, and finally, watching some YouTube videos of riders I admire, trying to see what aids they're using and how they're using their horses and their own bodies to make it all look so easy. I watched a couple of vlogs from Olivia Towers too, which were super neat because they involved some clips of schooling, test riding, lessons, and what she works on at the gym and in her mindset to help what she perceives her weaknesses to be.

And so, in my lesson this week when my coach asked me to go from walk pirouette to canter pirouette my first instinct was "Oh haha, you're so funny!" Then, a couple of seconds later, I was like "Why not? She wouldn't ask if she didn't think I could." Followed by some further confidence because I had just watched video of Carl and Charlotte introducing pirouettes, as well as multiple US Dressage Final tests with the helpful commentary explaining the good and not so good scores for the movement.

You probably wouldn't expect me to have mastered pirouettes in my first attempt from watching video. And, I didn't. There were some nice steps, some trial and error where I lost the shoulder and they got too big or  where I used too much outside aids and they got too small and hopping. But you know what? It wasn't all terrible either. I had a good visual in my head of what I wanted, and how to set it up, and for that, the video watching proved really, really helpful for me.

Taking the feel and tempo I've been learning to seek in collected canter, and combining it with the bend and aids from a walk pirouette, also very cool. EC is great at giving you seemingly non related exercises for months, and then boom you're putting them together and you're accomplishing a thing.

(And, WHOA, did I mention I did my first canter pirouettes!!!I don't know why, but of all the horsey things one could do, canter pirouettes and tempi changes are both serious Goals for me. So, bear with me, because I'm pretty excited.)

Final words of wisdom from EC (paraphrasing):

"As a rider, you get to a certain point where I am not teaching you anything truly new. Now it is just a matter of taking the basics I've taught you, and refining it all."

In other words, her nice way of saying don't over think it. Those canter pirouettes at their simplest are taking the canter I know how to create, adding haunches in, and placing it on a circle.

Once I got the feel, I practiced riding in and out of them as you would in a test. Again, certainly not perfect, or even complete 360s, but oh so fun to play with.

My aids need refining. My timing needs improvement. There are also millions of other little things I will be fixing or working on. But for now, just knowing I CAN Do The Thing is pretty darn cool.

Not sure this mare will ever have a collected enough canter to pull it off, but I'd like to try

I think another excellent goal to carry on indefinitely would be to continue to take advantage of available educational opportunities as much as possible. Kind of a no brainer, really, but it's easy to get lazy and be happy just knowing what you know. I'm finding online resources invaluable in helping me figure out some of the finer points of what I'd like to accomplish as a rider, and I'm finding a lot of the material is really inspiring me with new goals and ideas to try.



  1. I am obsessed with training videos on Youtube, I have been spending a lot of spare time there trying to learn!

    Riding for success is a good one, or even British Showjumping channel, has tonnes of good stuff, like clinics they do video and audio for. Although they are for Showjumping, a lot of it is good flat work.

    1. Ohh perfect! I'm not ruling out getting back into jumping and eventing, so even if they were "just" jumping clinics, I'm interested! Can't wait to check those channels out, thank you!

  2. I can only dream of the day Cupid and I are pirouetting :)

  3. You CAN do the thing and DOING it is SO COOL!

    1. It's funny how believing you can do the thing is the hardest step towards actually doing it.

  4. that's awesome that your studies have so directly translated to your lessons!! i love that feeling!

    1. For once, homework a la high school studying seems like a useful idea :D

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