Finding dressage ‘zen’

As a classic over achiever, I am constantly getting excited about the next project or goal. Last Saturday I had a lesson with a trainer where my vet could be present to discuss some of the straightness issues we’ve been experiencing. The trainer reminded me that as an over achiever and a perfectionist, it can be easy to want to do more, but for now it would be best to take the time to revisit some basics before asking for anything else. 

While I am a firm believer in the basics, and not preceding to the next level before accomplishing the one before, what is most challenging is that word revisit. We’ve done more, and if I’m honest, I was ready to move to the next level and am having a hard time because I am expecting Foster to pick up exactly where he left off.

Part of what I think is going on is this: Foster tweaked himself somehow in the field, we made adjustments and treated and now he is getting back to normal. But now he has some mental and physical baggage. Physical because he is still building strength back in his hock and mental because I imagine he needs the confidence back to know he can use it and be comfortable. Time and patience will help both. 

In my lesson, I learned that I need to not fixate on his crooked haunches and instead give him a ‘zen’ ride to help him be confident in his abilities. Transitions in particular, especially the right lead canter, get him anxious now, if only for a few steps before he comes back to normal. My job for the next while will be to help him relax through those transitions instead of making things happen at an exact moment in time. 


Those lips are a good indicator of the relaxation we had before

This is hard for me, because I have been feeling that at this stage in our training he should be able to transition between gaits at the letter. Relinquishing some of that control will be difficult, but I can do it. And when he has learned that he can be relaxed and happy through transitions, the rest will come back, plus some.

wine being poured into glass

Maybe one of these before schooling dressage will help me find ‘zen’

So really, I am still excited about the future and think my goals of moving to Novice by the end of the year are reasonable. I just need to add zen to my everyday approach to getting there. And who knows, maybe a glass of wine before a ride wouldn’t hurt 😉

5 thoughts on “Finding dressage ‘zen’

  1. This is one of my main problems…being an over-achiever and wanting more! He’ll give me something great, and instead of just taking it, I have a tendency to keep pushing 😦 I like the reminder to ride a ‘zen’ ride, because while your boy needs it because he’s coming back from an injury, I have to remember that mine is still very much a baby, and still needs that confidence and zen. I actually try to do what I call ‘zen circles’ when he’s feeling crazy- your gut is to do a lot of different things to get his attention, but really what works is just going around and around in circles, focusing on your own position, until he relaxes and joins in with you. Super boring, but it seems to work! Good luck!

  2. Pingback: Finding Dressage Zen: An Update | A House on a Hill

  3. Pingback: 2013 Accomplishments Part I: The Horse | A House on a Hill

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