Riding what you’ve got

I am very grateful for riding, and for the years spent “horsing around.”

In an ideal world, I’d be riding some very nice horses by now, with balance and a lot of “natural ability.”  Since you surely live in the real world, just like me, you’ve probably guessed by now that any talented or “easy” horses aren’t exactly coming my way.

Probably not in yours either, no?

Take Cooper here and his multiple “issues”, or what ever we shall call them.  Today, focusing on his extreme tense tendency.  Bracing, holding back, curling under, pushing against his rider.

Ever optimistic, I thought I would have solved it by now.

Here’s his trademark “Neck Move.”  Not captivating.

Swan neck

Often so tense, until he can almost make himself into a Perfect Square.  We still carry on.

Square, bracing

Is this why we like dressage so much?  Trying to create something soft here and there, out of the impossible tight and resistant?  Never thought so.  Come on, wouldn’t it be just so much nicer to somehow “arrive” at something better?

Since that’s not going to happen, it will be all about continuing on.  Riding the horse that is here right now, and actually enjoying it.  Because this is fun.  Surely not pretty all the time!

More years spent horsing around!

Cooper relaxed

Still intending on bringing this tight little bullet to success at First Level.  Keep cheering us on from the sidelines.  There’s hope!

Cooper more relaxed

22 thoughts on “Riding what you’ve got

  1. I really like this post. I think that so often we judge ourselves/our horses based on what we see in magazines and the blogosphere. We don’t realize that photos are a captures millisecond and writings are more or less a highlight reel. I wish we had more writers like you who triumph in their own success. I think everyone gets so caught up with advancing in comparison to others they don’t appreciate how they have advanced for themselves. 🙂 I loved all the photos- even when Cooper exhibiting being a tightwad. And thanks for the positive and upbeat reminder.

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    1. Aw! That is SO sweet! I sometimes come home from the barn, crusty, dusty, and completely spent, and really wondering what on earth I’m doing. And why. Then, every once in a while, there’ll be a ride that explains it all, and everything feels really fun, and right, again.
      Knowing I can’t be the only one, it feels kind of nice to be posting about it all here, showing the extreme slow progress, and knowing others are able to stay positive, too.

      Hoping you’ll get some really nice progress with your new guy too 🙂

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  2. I think the slow progress is what makes us feel so relieved/elated when things finally click! I know TJ is a little frustrating right now because he has to test everything I ask! But that is because he is so green and we are a 6 day old team at this point. But i find myself comparing him to my Apache and I need to remember they are two opposite animals. Arab vs. Paint. Green vs. Well seasoned. Motivated vs. Lazy. It’s all a process and reminding myself to feel successful with the little things and be proud of “our” triumphs.

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    1. Yes, the little things! It’s helpful to look back and see how things used to be, versus how they’re now.
      Then of course, the more horses we work with, the more we realize they’re ALL so very different. Makes it more fun. I keep that in mind when I feel sort of stuck for a while

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  3. I think he looks gorgeous in that last photo!! Yes, coming from “the real world,” you ride what you get. I am SO lucky that I was given the horse I have now- granted, he came to me an unbroken gangly four year-old (he sure was a late bloomer for a TB) and I’ve had to put all of the work into him, the good and the bad. I never expected to get a horse as nice as him so quickly. At first, he didn’t look like much, but he’s really starting to shine. Sometimes “riding the horse you’ve got” surprises you in the end 🙂

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    1. OK that is SO very inspiring! I’m hoping that Cooper will pull it all together, settle within him self, and become a little gem. He already is, very nice guy, but he won’t exactly impress the dressage judges with his tightness right now 🙂

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  4. All horses (and riders) have issues, and having finally, after many years of riding difficult horses, bought myself a schoolmaster, I discovered: it’s not always easy even with a schoolmaster! Darn! By the way, I like your last picture of Cooper, he’s starting to look very soft and engaged there.
    The very best dressage is taking an ordinary, not so talented horse and helping him become one that moves more beautifully, in a balanced way, in harmony with his rider. To me that’s much more impressive than seeing these “super horses” catapult around the ring flicking their toes in unnatural ways. Keep improving yourself and your horses. It’s the journey, not the destination, and lucky us, we get to be with horses every day!

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    1. Yeah, I figured that too, that the schoolmaster wouldn’t be the magic bullet solving everything.
      Nothing more intimidating than knowing the horse CAN do it, knows how to do it, and WOULD do it, if I only knew MYSELF how to pull it off HaHA!

      And that last part, yes, we’re very lucky to get to be with them – that’s the most important part! Enjoying it all!

      Saw your picture from the clinic in the last post by the way. SWEET! I’ve got to read it tonight!

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      1. Yes, it is the ultimate humiliation of self to see the horse do it perfectly with the former owner, or with the trainer, and then get on and be hopeless at getting any kind of response. Ah well, horses don’t lie, and this is how they teach us to do it right 🙂 However, the joy of a schoolmaster is when you do it right, they (generally) do respond, unlike an untrained (or poorly trained) horse, who says, “huh? You talking’ to me? I no speak English/French/Spanish/Dutch/German/or any other language you might speak. I’m just doing my own thing here.”

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  5. I just ride him, he belongs to Blue Horse farm and I show him. Sigh. He knows he’s safe. And that he can play to his own tune, and then just putter around in the pasture all day again if I don’t like it.

    Perhaps if I just sort of hang a cowboy hat in the cross ties? Just sort of like a suggestion 😉

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  6. Dressage IS about the journey, that’s what makes it addictive…and maddening. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to own a schoolmaster and have a horse of every type (lots of go, lots of woah,etc) for whatever mood we had that day? Maybe but maybe not. It would be difficult to cultivate a relationship with so many horses and perhaps even harder to take the immense amount of pride in each for being spread thin. Your perspective is good – ride what you’ve got and, before you know it, you will be looking back at this stage saying, “Wow, look how far we’ve come!” 🙂

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    1. Agreed, it is VERY addictive. And maddening. And sweaty.
      Can’t wait to be saying “Wow, look how far we’ve come!”

      Thank you for following my blog, I hope you’ll enjoy reading more!

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  7. I think you guys look fantastic!!!! You will find a way to get him to relax someday hehe. Hopefully sooner rather than later. 😀 In a dream world Chrome would be trained already and I would never be afraid haha. Not going to happen any time soon!

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    1. We’re all going to be afraid, to some extent, here and there in the training. Having a friend there can help a lot, even if you can’t get a trainer out there. Especially if both are riding at the same time 🙂

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          1. Lucky you!

            No, my husband had no idea I even LIKED horses, we got married, had children, and suddenly he woke up to – WHOAH, why is half my garage filled with tack?!!! And why are you wearing leather breeches??!!

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