Terribly Ugly Riding

Cooper pasture high

Cooper – Last week, a few days too many off poking around in a grassy pasture.

Thought we were way past this, Cooper.  A struggle, all over again.  And worse.  And what on earth has happened to the quiet, calm, mouth?

Discouraging ride.  Plenty of energy, but mainly directed inward, a tight ball with a lost outside shoulder and a tweak in the neck this way, a tweak in the poll that way.

Unresponsive to the leg, but sensitive at the same time.  Can’t blame him when I’m feeding into his stuff that badly.  We wrestled.  That’s not dressage…

Angry Appaloosa ball, irritated even more by ugly aids.  Not his fault.

Angry Appaloosa

At home, looking at pictures – all the multiple rider positioning faults were extremely clear.  Exasperated to see it’s still ALL the same faults.  Think I’m permanently tweaked…

This is such a difficult sport.  Apparently it’s going to be difficult, and unpleasing to the eye for a very long time for me.  I’m sure you’ve been there too.  Perhaps just not posting it for all to see on the Web…

A few, very few, good moments.  Sharing some split seconds here with you.  Seriously, these were the better moments.  The only ones.  All the rest, bad enough to make one want to go back to just grooming.

Finally relaxing a bit

An angry ball

Finally the correct lead

Marty, from MCDressage, set us off on a better course this week instead.  Had a MUCH better solo ride on Wednesday after the lesson.

I’m very lucky to have someone able to come out and work with me. Marty has been extremely generous with his time, never a rush.  Very grateful for this!

Because of course, the morning of your lesson; colts will break loose, buckets will magically empty upside down in stalls, or the outside water hose will freeze.  Or all simultaneously.

11 thoughts on “Terribly Ugly Riding

  1. Anyone who rides regularly sympathizes with your story and could tell the same tale. I hope you and Cooper have some great rides this next week to make up for it and I’m glad you have some eyes on the ground to help you get out of your head and back into what you know is right. We all need it!
    As Anne of Green Gables said, “tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it yet’ (or words to that effect). Comforting thought. We dressage riders tend to be really, really hard on ourselves (does dressage attract OCD types? Perhaps). Remember to give yourself credit for all the things you do really well. I see some very good pictures there along with the not so great one. You and your horses are doing well and making progress! Two steps forward and, oh well, the occasional step back. Get back on and keep riding 🙂 Thanks for honestly sharing your not so beautiful moments as well as the successes!


    1. Thank you! Love to have some support!! Started this blog with no flash, only honesty, and so it must remain 🙂
      Yes, we’re hard on ourselves aren’t we… Mostly because we know what looks right, what looks true – and motivating for the horse, and when we’re Miiiiles away from it with no clue how to get better, the entire ride will appear useless.

      I really like to read about others going through the same thing. Working through crazy weather, snowy winters, less than suitable horses, and with very small budgets, yet still able to keep doing it. I’d like to think it helps others, too, to read about riders who DO NOT keep moving steadily up and forward, but who have a lot of challenges. So, I share it. Although it definitely doesn’t make one look any better 🙂

      In about two weeks, I’ll be putting myself out there at an event. Not expecting to be coddled in any way there. Very character building 🙂 And of course, I’ll have to confess all about it here on the blog too!

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      1. So…are you going to the yarra yarra show? The dates line up. My friend is going. I’m not ready yet (and I’m riding in a clinic instead). Good luck at whatever event you are going to, and we look forward to reading about it on the blog!


        1. Hi! Wouldn’t that have been cool – if we ended up at the same show some day. But no, I am Months and Months away from being ready to drive several hours with Cooper to a show. (Especially after yesterday’s lesson – where he bolted straight across the arena during the warm up on a long rein!)
          We’ll be at Starr Vaughn – as demo riders. If we can get through the test…

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    1. Ah! Never even though of that – didn’t imagine anyone would be interested to read that. But you’re SO right, I love seeing that on other writer’s blogs. OK, so, I better come up with a plan for that on mine too. Thank you for the idea! Cooper, the Blue Roan Appaloosa in this blog post, does not belong to me. He is the barn owner’s horse, and after watching him poking around in a huge grass pasture for some 7 months I finally decided to give him a job. That was at the very end of July last summer, and it’s been a challenge to get him into a dressage frame of mind.

      He’s only 7, and had a basic, but very good and fair, Western education. Just very straight in all turns, running into all canter transitions, preferred to come to a complete stop after a canter, slow sort of western jog, curled behind, or neck in the air. It’s a fun project to try to make him more balanced.


  2. Pam, thank you!!! It’s hard sometimes isn’t it? A humbling sport that can so easily crush any self respect and make us look like fidgeting, clamping, crabs riding killer whales struggling for air.
    So far from what we set out to create that day 😉
    Glad to hear, too, I’m not the only one!


  3. Love reading this! Because we all have good days, and then on the bad days we think that we’ll never be good riders. But that’s the thing with baby steps, you don’t realise how far you’ve come until you look back. I’m sure if you look at this post now (> 1 year later), it’s a completely different story 🙂

    That’s exactly why I recently started a similar blog. So I can look back in a year’s time and see what progress I’ve made with my boy – because hopefully then the issues that I’m facing in our training will be minuscule compared to the issues we faced then!

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