Dressage seriously? Why is it SO hard!

As long as I live I don’t think I will ever be able to accurately predict the mark of my dressage tests. What I feel, what Dustry goes like, and what the judge sees are 3 apparently unrelated elements if our recent tests and results are anything to go by!

The problem with dressage is….I like it, I would go so far as to say I actively enjoy it (shock horror!) I get a real buzz out of our flatwork lessons and being able to take D out to strut his stuff in the competition arena is really fun……really fun until……you fall into a “dressage funk”.

area festivals 2014A “dressage funk” will usually strike when any of the following criteria are met:

1/ You have an important competition looming that could qualify you for something mega
2/ You have relatives/friends/your instructor/sponsors attending the competition
3/ You just bought some swanky new competition gear and decided to wear it
4/ You’ve taken holiday off work in order to compete midweek
5) You’ve prepped your helper with a camera and plenty of memory card space
6/ Your horse has been going unusually well in the days leading up to the competition

Right on cue we spiralled head first into a “dressage funk” as we took our first steps up the centre line at Area Festivals. In a bid to ride us out of the funk I ‘got back on the horse’ and entered us up for some BD the following weekend and despite the funk subsiding partially there were still some lingering symptoms (fussy contact, varying rhythm) which meant we chalked up some disappointingly low scores for 3rd and 4th place, with marks ranging from 7.5 to 4!

Wellington AF (DH) 5.9.14The trouble with Dustry and dressage is he’s got a past. When we take on a new area of flat work training (we have begun working on medium paces and trot to halt, canter to walk transitions) other bits, previously fine bits start to fall apart, and his past as a racehorse feels more present than ever. When put under pressure to produce more and try harder it’s his default response (partly due to his racing life, and partly due to his confirmation) to lose consistency and lightness in the contact. Working through these training plateaus we always emerge on the other side bigger and better than before but the period of adjustment where he is learning new things and I am trying ride better is not very pretty at times.

Thankfully we are off this weekend for his 4th ODE at Tweseldown and getting out and about to jump again I’m sure will cure us of “the dressage blues” after all who gives a hoot about a wobbly centre line when you’re flying over fences? not me that’s for sure!


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