Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Kottas Experience: Day 3, Just Too Tired

I don't remember much about my ride on Day 3. It was a Monday, so there weren't many auditors. I wisely decided to leave Spider at home and go back to get him for our ride time. I did get to audit more, which was very nice. But I was so, so tired.

The standout from my third ride is that Arthur explained to me how to ride a centerline. Somehow, in 20 years of riding dressage and many trainers, I have never managed to learn that. I always over shoot the centerline and then have to correct and then it's a mess. Arthur finally put it into words I could understand: "Ride it like a 10m circle". Oh.... Duh. It seems really obvious in retrospect, but it honestly never occurred to me before.

My lessons with Arthur Kottas were not world changing experiences of a lifetime where flights of dressage angels sung to me of enlightenment and Spider and I floated away on perfectly classical unicorn farts, but they were very good confirmations of things I already knew (other than how to hit the centerline). What I learned was more about myself, and that I am on the right track and I'm receiving good training. Almost everything Arthur said was something I have already heard from my own trainer, just with a different accent. That's a very good thing.

Probably the most important thing, and the most world-changing thing, Arthur said to me wasn't during any of my rides. It was while I was driving him to the airport after the clinic. We were chit-chatting, as one does on an hour-long car ride. I was pointing out the various fascinating South Jersey sights: "That's the landfill where they buried the dead whale that washed up on the Shore a couple years ago. That's a peach orchard. That's a soybean field. There's the Sewage Treatment Plant.", but the subject came back to horses because apparently Arthur doesn't find dead whales and sewage treatment as fascinating as I do. So, we were talking about his approach to clinics when he suddenly said, "Your horse is very difficult."  *record scratch*

Not gonna lie, I damn near threw his ass out of the car into a soybean field. Nobody, I mean nobody, not even Arthur Kottas, gets to say anything bad about my favorite horse. But I controlled myself, artfully glossed over that part of the conversation, and delivered him safely to the airport.

I then related that story to a few people, who all agreed with him. My trainer even said, "You should take that as a compliment.", and then followed it up with, "If he were easy, you'd be doing Grand Prix by now."  I realized that I can't abandon all my friends in a soybean field, because someone might miss them and then get suspicious, so I eventually just started to accept that maybe Spider is a just a smidge difficult and maybe I'm not that bad of a rider.



I'm not sure if I'll ride with Arthur again. I will definitely host another clinic with him, it was a wonderful experience, but riding and hosting is just too much for me. If I ride again, it will be only for one or two days. Really though, I learned the most by sitting and listening to him teach. As much as I want to people to ride in clinics, because I need riders to fill my clinics, I really think that auditing is the best bang for your money. Being able to sit there and listen to him teach riders and horses of all ages and levels is a truly sublime experience. If you do ride, bring along someone to video or take notes for you, because you probably won't remember a thing!









7 comments:

  1. Great quote in that pic! Difficult horses do a have lots to teach us. Even if Spider is a bit difficult you will be a better rider to for it... :) (don't leave me in a soybean field)

    I am a way bigger fan of auditing. Riding in front of people makes me very nervous so I don't absorb very much!

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  2. I had a difficult horse once and my trainer told me he would teach me to ride really well. I didn't really believe her until I swapped horses with someone (who wanted to try riding my boy) in a lesson. The other person struggled BIG time, couldn't make him do anything and was extremely frustrated. Me, on the other hand, felt like I was on auto pilot - her horse did everything, all by himself. ...and it made me feel much better as a rider. Take difficult as the complement to your riding that it is. It doesn't mean Spider is bad, he's just challenging you ride at the top of your game.

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  3. Haha. Those soybean fields would get awfully crowded.

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  4. Glad you rode in the clinic instead of me - I would have been toast - a bunch of times. Nice to read about it, though!

    I've had several difficult horses, and they've made a huge difference to my riding - and my horsemanship.

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  5. sorry i'm a little stuck on visualizing you and Spider floating away on perfectly classical unicorn farts.... lol!!

    seriously tho, what awesome takeaways. and perhaps by accepting that your horse *might* be a smidge on the tougher side, you're able to relieve yourself of some pressure when things don't go quite right. and i agree that auditing seems to be the way to go for a lot of BNT clinics, tho i hope to eventually ride in a few too

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  6. I would want to know why he saw my horse that way. It does show what an awesome rider you are.

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  7. The difficult horses challenge us as riders and people. Riders with "easy" uncomplicated horses never really learn the lessons the rest of us (with difficult horses) learn. You have done a fantastic job with Spider and Arthur was complimenting you by recognizing your skill. Let the soybeans flourish without the extra fertilizer.

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