Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The honeysuckle blooming around my arena.  It smells amazing.

I am still struggling with Spider's canter.  It is stuck somewhere between "Slowest Racehorse Ever" and "Hunter".  Nowhere near "Dressage Horse", which is where I need it to be if we are to have any hope of getting through 2nd level and on to 3rd this year.

Despite my prayers for a sudden epiphany, I know that there is only one way to get through this: Get my butt in the saddle and just do it.  Make every stride of canter count, make it perfect.  Make every transition count, make them perfect.  Every imperfect stride, every flat transition, is un-training my horse.  In order to move forward, we must work harder than we've ever worked before.  It is difficult and it is frustrating for both of us.

In order to accomplish this, to get the canter straightened out, I have dedicated myself to riding my best every single time.  Even on play days we have to do nice transitions and stay round.  Because every bad stride undoes all my training and makes it that much harder to reach our goal.  I have also dedicated myself to being more consistent in my riding program.  That means riding 5-6 days a week, conditions be damned.

Yesterday was hectic.  I woke up late, then had an unexpected errand that ate up part of my day.  By the time I got everything done and settled it was 9pm and I still hadn't ridden my horse.  I didn't really want to, either, but I knew I had to.  So, I grabbed my tack and headed outside.

It started to rain lightly as I got Spider ready.  Because my day hadn't been frustrating enough.  But the rain was warm and I was wearing jeans and half-chaps instead of my breeches and tall boots, so I continued tacking up.  (I'm not gonna lie, had I been wearing my deerskin breeches and tall boots I might have scrapped the ride.  Those things are expensive!)

As I settled into the saddle the rain got a little heavier.  We warmed up quickly, then went to work.  I wasn't sure how long I would be able to ride before the rain really started to come down.

As we went around, my frustrations slipped away.  There is something of the divine in riding in the rain on a warm spring day, surrounded by the scent of honeysuckle.  I found it impossible to be anything but happy in that moment.

As my frustrations slipped away, I found a new joy in making every transition and canter stride perfect.  I was no longer doing it because I wanted to show 3rd level.  I was doing it for the sheer pleasure of training a horse.  And so we went around, happily schooling dressage just for the fun of it.

At the end of our ride I looked up into the night sky, letting the rain hit my face while I inhaled the heady scent of the honeysuckle.  I fixed that ride into my mind, so that I would never forget that there is only one emotion that belongs in the saddle:  Pure, unbridled joy.  


  1. Or, "Bridled" joy, as the case may be. *S*

    The commitment is so important. I used to be as dedicated, but lost it somewhere in the last two years. But, I have no goals at the moment, so it's OK.

    You, on the other hand, have something to attain and that makes all the difference. I will be at the Horse Park to see you ride Third Level. It's going to happen! 7

  2. Beautiful post Shannon! Thanks for the inspiration and the lovely images. :D

  3. That joy is why we started out doing this but sometimes it is lost along the way. Glad you were reminded of it!

  4. So true about the joy and making every bit count. Lovely post.


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