Realizations of a 30-month-old Dressage Rider

Churchill quoteI thought I’d take note of my recent revelations as I’m reflecting back on my journey. While it’s been short, compared, to most, I’m hopeful I’m not alone in my self-imposed issues as a dressage rider.

I am my own worst critic

“You looked great today!” says my trainer.  “Really? I think… were you in the arena with me? I felt out of balance, the canter felt sluggish, I felt like I was working too hard to get him forward, he was sucked back, etc.” To that she replies, “No, you both really looked great. He was forward, on the bit, connected, and balanced in the canter, trot extensions were great.” “Get out of your own head.” We say in unison.

I’ve learned more about geometry than I did in math class

We’re now showing First Level and training higher which means we’re supposed to have mastered (or show that we understand) both a 15 meter and a 10 meter circle. I thought 20 meters were tough. Now, we have to do the smaller versions in a 15m canter (which I prefer… much!) and a 10m trot. When we approach the 15 meter canter circle, my brain is thinking — one point, quarter line, three point, quarter line and hope that it resembles something less than a trapezoid.  10m at the trot… turn, turn, turn, turn, straighten and repeat in the other direction… dizzy much?

Competing is for measuring improvement

As a teen I played competitive tennis and was a cheerleader. As a child I was a ballet dancer. I’ve been around individual driven competitions for a while and that drive to be better than another has been replaced by be better than my earlier self. I’m still learning to deal with that and quell my inner feeling that I need to be better than the others competing. Maybe if there were no ribbons and it was just a quest to better your score, but there are ribbons, and they’re pretty. In fact, my favorite color is blue and I’m really not fond of red or yellow. So, my internal dilemma rages on.

Fit rider is an understatement

There are no excuses but I’m 49 and my core isn’t as toned as it was in my 20s. As I progress up the levels, even just lessoning, I’m realizing that there is no way around it – I have to exercise and change my eating habits. While I like to use that riding calorie burning chart ( as my defense I know that I won’t be able to comfortably sit the trot without some major work on my part. OK, who am I kidding? It’s not about me being comfortable, it’s about those watching me not wanting to poke hot daggers into their eyes watching some middle-aged women bouncing around like a bobble-headed marshmallow, not to mention hearing in hushed tones “oh, that poor horse” due to the resulting pain to Carter.

I’ve signed a petition to change the order of the alphabet to A-F-P-B-R-M-C-H-S-E-V-K-D-L-X-I-G

I saw a comic at The Idea of Order ( and I couldn’t agree more. It’s one thing to have to remember to circle at the major letters (which I consider A, C, E, and B) but to throw in a P and an R…seriously? I know it only gets tougher as the tests progress. It’s a good thing I like brain boosters like dark chocolate and caffeine (refer to earlier realization why this, too is a problem).

So, there you have it. I know I’ve had plenty more revelations in my tenure in this horsey obsession (No, I won’t go into what I’ve learned about sheath cleaning – yowza) but this is a good list of where I’m at today with dressage on the brain as we prepare to compete at the end of September. I wouldn’t change a thing – except, perhaps, learning better negotiating skills so I could convince my parents that I wouldn’t be allergic to horses as a child to begin this journey decades earlier, even if it meant living in a bubble with an epi-pen.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Horse Sage says:

    I laughed out loud, the sign of a successful article! Yes! You captured the craziness of dressage riders perfectly. I’m one of them, too. And as an older (almost 55!) rider, I know what you mean about the core strength stuff, too. Ugg, work out in addition to riding? Whaaaaat?

    1. suemoore2 says:

      Hi Horse Sage – yeah… core strength. UGH. I’ve been working a lot on sitting trot these last few weeks and boy, oh boy, are my abs out to get me (and my trainer)! Thanks for reading! — Sue & Carter

  2. Laura Mcleod says:

    Great article – though I must say I am very jealous of all that you have achieved in only 30 months! I am progressing at a significantly slower pace than you, but I guess that is life and I should not compare my journey to anyone else’s. Wishing you all the best in your dressage adventures. 🙂

    1. suemoore2 says:

      Hi Laura – Thanks for the comment! Each journey is different — you’re so right! We are both so lucky to have found this little gem of a sport and each time we ride, it’s a gift. I wish you good rides and lots of horse snuggles. Thanks for reading! — Sue

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