Dressage is, quite possibly, the hardest thing I have ever done, or attempted to do. I am not really the extreme thrill seeker, so I have not climbed mountains or hiked the Appalachian trail (yet!). So until now, my hardest achievement was winning a Marshall Scholarship to study in Oxford. The reason that was hard was because I am a shy, introverted engineer by vocation and I had to endure 6 months of interview training so I could speak with authority to the intelligentsia interviewing me about political, social, and economic topics. It was a total mind retraining.
Dressage is very much the same way.
It strips me down and exposes me and all my character flaws. I have poor body awareness. Ice hockey does not train the body as say, ballet or dance. My weight is definitely an issue, in more ways than one. With a 30 pound spare tire, I am less precise in my weight aids. Plus things jiggle... blech. I get easily frustrated and I am highly critical. Mediocrity does not sit well with me. It's fine when I am pushing myself to write the best spankin' code on the planet, but it's not fine when I am pushing another sentient being out of a level of mediocrity that he might really enjoy. Does Brego want to be a super dressage horse? How far can I push us without taking advantage of his nature to please and suffer in silence? *sigh*
It's been an insufferable week. A crushing project at work, the endless and disappointing farm hunt, spending $600 a month commuting between gas and tolls, rising health insurance costs, fear and loathing of the upcoming heating season in snowy New England have really frayed me. I was already feeling exposed, and then I tried to work on dressage.
Aside from a longe lesson on Monday where I thought I had some real breakthroughs in my seat, he sat in a field for five days. And when that happens, the boy goes feral. He is rude, pushy, lazy, cranky... a lot like me with no exercise for five days. So on Friday evening, I gave the proverbial finger to work and I took off with enough time to ride. And it was terrible. Brego wouldn't move, then he moved to fast, head stuck straight into the air. Smells of an rider problem, eh? It was.
We fought for an hour and then I got one good downward transition and I forced myself to quit and pet and thank Brego for still loving me. I hate that feeling. Thank you, dear horse, for tolerating my shitty riding and trying to interpret my blast of ill-timed cues.
Saturday morning was "new horse-new rider". Start fresh. It didn't take long for us to start fighting again. Saturday's problem was that Brego stared out the indoor and would NOT PAY ATTENTION. And I took the bait and got increasingly stiff and frustrated. As I was turning him in circles, trying to get him to unlock his face and PAY ATTENTION TO ME DAMMIT, I had the mental thought that this is not dressage. This was not the point. And I got off.
So the plan... read some good Paul Belasik and find out how I got so terribly off track after a hellish week in my Other Life. And then... the best idea. I am going to take lessons from another barn on another horse, a made horse, to learn, myself, how to give aids. Then I can take that back to Brego and quiet the noise and show him how it works instead of screaming at him that he is not doing it right. He is a good horse. He can do it. WE can do it. I just need to let go and get some serious training.
I am completely exposed. It doesn't get much lower than this. So I need to find a way to rebuild constructively.
In the meantime, I am going to leave the dressage saddle on the rack. We're going to hack and work on my form over some grids, something Brego can do in his sleep and I will pick on myself instead of him. I am not worrying about the big show in
four three weeks. We're safe enough to complete and that's exactly where we should be.