Sunday, April 6, 2014

Be True

I have such a hard time listening to my inner voice and trusting it when it comes to riding. I think, in part, this is due to being in an environment where people I love, trust and admire know more about the style of riding I have been doing than I do myself. It is also in part, because I was raised in an environment where I learned at a very early age to NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY. Yes, in my personal life, I have found a way to break out of that, but I still have a tough time following my own heart when it comes to dealing with people I feel have authority over me.

Ashke needs me to listen to him and follow my plan. My plan at this point is to work on forward at the canter. And the correct lead. If he will go forward on the correct lead for me, then I will be happy. He needs to gain confidence at the canter. He needs to trust that cantering for long periods of time (ie five circuits of the outdoor arena) is okay. He needs to trust that I am cantering with him, and we are both loving it.

Yesterday, N expressed some hope that I would continue to ask Ashke to use his back and not lose the progress we've made on his back. It caused me to feel anxious and rather than tell her my plan, I immediately changed course and started asking him to do something I know is beyond him right now.

How do I know it is beyond him? Because when he is asked to canter to the left and lift his back, he immediately changes leads in the back and we are cross cantering. Then he breaks to a trot and gets upset. He does this routine in side reins and with me on him. He may always have difficulty. It stems back to the right hamstring injury and all of the rehab we have done. I know this mentally, but I don't always remember.

On Weds, when I asked Ashke to canter, he did awesome, but I didn't worry about asking him to lift his back. I just asked him to carry us forward at a regular, cadenced canter. Today, when I asked for the canter and for him to lift with his back, he fell apart. We cross cantered. He got tense. He got anxious. I got frustrated. Then we stopped. The progress I felt like we had made the past three rides, dissolved in misgivings and mistrust.

You only have to hit me one time. Tomorrow, when I ride, I will just ask for a canter and for him to carry me smoothly. We will go back to our plan.

(And I will learn, again, that I have to follow my heart. I respect and admire N so much, that sometimes wanting her to approve and be proud of me overrides my own thought process. And having her work with me, act as an impromptu trainer, increases her authority in my mind, even if it's not true in reality. And N - this is my issue. Not something you are doing. I am owning this. I want you to continue being you: my friend, my sometime trainer, my riding buddy, and my sounding board.)

I told N today on our ride home that he isn't ready yet to collect himself or use his back the way he should. I think the saddle is playing a part, but I also think it is just what he and I need to gain confidence on, as a team. We are trying to run before we can walk. We need to get him stronger and more confident in himself. If we can accomplish that this summer, combined with increasing his strength and conditioning his back, then we will be at a point in the fall to go back to more classical dressage training and continue to work on his top line.


  1. It is do hard to not want to make those we see as some sort of authority proud of us. I totally understand where you are coming from on that. I have struggled with the same thing. With help of friends who really looked out for me though, I've been able to overcome it and learn to say "no". I know you'll get to that point with it, too! Your passion for Ashke will get you there. The bind and understanding between you two is incredible and that alone will help you over any hurdle one or both of you encounters. :-)

  2. I think it is important to remember the purpose for asking him to engage his back: to make him stronger, more confident, more fluid. If he is not ready then he's not there yet, and if asking him is making him less confident then you aren't actually making progress. I think you are spot on, follow your plan, return to the basics and build up from there. Dressage is all about foundation and preparation. When you get the maneuvers right then you know the foundation is there. But forcing something without the foundation that's about competition and putting human desires above acute observation of the true abilities of the horse. And even the best, most well intentioned of us sometimes get excited about "seeing" progress. I'm sure that N will respect you more for really knowing your horse and telling her "no" than just blindly following her suggestions.

  3. You are listening to him and that is important. You can't rush it; when he's ready, it will happen. BTW, Brett got the gate at Tractor Supply. The feed stores around here carry them as well.

  4. I wanted to post N's response from my FB link to this blog:

    I love ya Karen...never never ever feel like I'm an authority over you. Just a friend, an imperfect but caring and sometimes over opinionated friend. Lol. Always know that my suggestions are just that...suggestions. Take the parts that will work for you and Ashke and leave the rest. YOU are Ashke's Mom and YOU are the one who knows best. I think you are right though, you don't give yourself enough credit. You are a fantastic horse person and rider. You will find your way just like Cali and I are stumbling around trying to find ours, lol. I continue to be your faithful Kemosabe.

    -- which makes me The Lone Ranger, apropos since I am riding the white horse.


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