So last I left you dear reader, Jet and I had a massive breakthrough (well really me-Jet just wants me to figure out how to ride) about using my seat to lift his back. The angels sang, there was actual collection, and we had several rides in a row that were just superb. Jet’s back was up, so his shoulders were more lifted, his hind legs came more underneath, the transitions and lateral work were GREAT, and I felt like I had finally found the missing piece of the puzzle. Nirvana. And then the wheels came crashing off. I had a horse with a switching tail, sometimes tense, not easily able to shift from one outside bend to the other. WTAF?
After a couple of kind of crappy, ineffectual rides(sorry Jet) I figured out what was going on. In my excitement of figuring out lifting the horse’s back with energy and balance I forgot about the lateral. You know, having the horse pushed into the outside rein and all that jazz. Amazingly, if you ride your horse like a straight board, with no emphasis on being in the outside aids, he starts to turn into a 2x4 with all the resultant flexibility. So...problem eventually solved. I’m having to think about lifting the back, energy, AND being in the outside aids. I think my brain might explode, but I’m getting it maybe 80% of the time.
This got me really thinking though, about the learning process, and about how hard it is to do Dressage and improve without eyes on the ground. I’m finally understanding that for every learning breakthrough I’ve had, it seems like there is a concurrent loss of something we were doing well. And this is a consistent pattern. I figure out the outside aids, I forget energy. I figure out energy, I forget thoroughness. On and on like an endless loop. This is where having a trainer telling you, “You’ve figured out Y BUT don’t forget X” is so freaking helpful. Putting the skills together is just as hard, but the rider gets a heads up before things go really south.
Having a trainer right now is not really in the cards for me, but now that I am cognizant of this pattern I think I will be a lot more aware to beware when I make a riding breakthrough. Just knowing that I have a tendency to add something good but also drop something I am already doing well, will be helpful for future training breakthroughs and maybe make the process a little smoother. What are your recent breakthroughs and how did they work out long term?