So, it’s strange. As a rider, especially as a rider with a disability, I work hard to not compare myself, my progress, what I’m working on to others. But, making the barn switch has exposed me to more. More people. More horses. More higher level riders. More expectations. And, apparently that is super motivating to me? Today as I tacked up for my lesson, I watched as an elderly horse and his mature rider tackled their canter work in the indoor while a jump clinic continued in the outdoor and something in me just said why not try.
Cantering is a tricky thing for me, a combination of something that’s physically hard and mentally challenging because I know my inability to put weight in my legs and disastrous coordination in general makes something I have to really concentrate on. Combining that with a prior horse who did not have the best canter, it’s a combined block. But, today, after some good sitting trot work I was asked what I wanted to do… and I said canter. And I did, walk canter transitions. 2 of them, one lap each.
Clare got all the cookies for being the schoolmistress I need right now, mentally and physically. So lucky to have connected with her and to be able to learn from her at the end of her career right now.
The sitting trot is not a passive action. You can’t sink into it, you push into it – that rhythm, than down action – it’s percussive, it’s powerful. And weirdly enough, it’s now doable.
But first. Piggles and I had a kind of embarrassing failure of a last outing in June, he planted his feet at X and nearly didn’t move, then we were called off course when we weren’t, and decided that collection just wasn’t happening. Oops. But the judge (David Schmutz) was super kind and encouraging and it wasn’t a total embarrassment (that’s saved for when Radar ducked me off, damn pony!)
Anyway. We had a great August, he was going great. Decided to aim for early September show… and then was told they wouldn’t shorten the court. Got it, that venue is out! In September Piggles got a bit ouchy and life changes meant that he’s now partially retired and enjoying his life at Mar Val.
So, where does that leave me? At a new barn, with a new horse to sponsor and riding with multiple trainers for the first time.
Meet Claire! She’s an aged Morgan x Thoroughbred (my favorites!) and is teaching me so much. It’s not easy, hello anxiety! But she makes it worth it. I’m learning how to take my riding to the next level, pushing myself for more, working on moving instead of being quiet, of asking for more. It’s fun! She probably isn’t consistently sound enough to do any rated showing, but for me that’s okay for now – especially now.
She’s teaching me how to bounce, how to push, how to become more secure.
Spent this weekend spectating at the Golden State Dressage show and CPEDI, watching all kinds of wonderful horses and riders, and making my paradressage classification permanent!
I also tried my hand at some equestrian photography, I love photography although with fine motor and vision issues… my results may vary! I clearly need to figure out if my point and shoot has a sports mode and would want a tripod if I were to do more, but it was fun to try.
Classification was interesting, as usual (wait… I’m supposed to be able to move that way?) and literally nothing changed numbers-wise. We got looped reins added to my dispensation, which will be nice moving forward as we try things out.
The riding – in the CDI, CPEDI and Classic show – was generally inspiring and is giving me things to think about (FORWARD! FORWARD! PUSH into that FORWARD!).
Goals are funny. I’m really not a competitive person, but I certainly am goal oriented. I think it helps me… focus? Or something like that.
So goals: Piggles and I are aiming to ride the Grade II Novice A test at the ginormous Rancho Murieta CPEDI 1* in June. It’s big, it’s fancy… and the little Morgan and I (and Team Pig) are going to play with the big boys. Or Warmbloods, whichever you prefer.
In order to get ready, I’m riding a lot, and doing a few shows in preparation, 4 in total. Show #1 at the UC Davis barn was a fun, low-key affair, turning it up a notch with my first rated show at the end of the month. I’m excited, for rated it seems pretty solidly low-key (waived coats etc). Then 2 shows in May, one an “away” show where I’ll test out the hotel and riding multiple days.
Should be a fun spring, with enormous thanks to everyone in Team Pig for making it all happen.
So things in equine-world are pretty fun right now. Piggles the Morgan has fancy glue-on shoes, and is pretty darn happy with them! I’m going to Los Angeles this weekend to get classified by the United States Paraequestrian Association/FEI to see where I classify and if this is a realistic goal. And having a lesson with their riding consultant, who also happens to be the one who has led the amazing British paradressage team for years.
I have no delusions of dressage greatness, the Paralympics or anything like that. I just want to have fun with the horses and have goals to work towards.
So in the name of working towards goals… my trainer has a new mantra for me:
Make it good-er
Yes, it’s grammatically incorrect. But the idea is this; I have a bunch of ways to do that in my riding toolbox. I can decide what to do. I can try something, see if it works, try again. I can use my experience and intellect and feel to make it good-er in a way that feels right at that moment.
There are many ways to make things good-er, and I’m cautiously approaching my non-equine life with that mindset.