By Patricia Pitt
2014 – The Pathfinder Year
Having had an epiphany in terms of my lack of skill in riding dressage and my somewhat lacklustre approach to it, l would bemoan my fate to anyone who would listen, avoid the issues, of which there were many and pretend that everything was ok, but it really wasn’t.
Looking back, hindsight genuinely is a wonderful thing! This was my preference to actually doing anything about my lack of progress. Bizarre really but once you get into a rut it’s hard to get out of. Many, many equestrians prefer to lament their fate than do anything to change it.
When my epiphany came in the Spring of 2014 I embarked on a journey of discovery which has been epic. I took myself through the process of self analysis outlined in my book The Crystal System, which encompasses the mind, body and one’s ability, only to expose myself as pretty well broken.
2015 – A Winding Road
The plan was to get myself riding sufficiently well to enable me to compete my young horse A.K. in 2015. Turns out that you have to be flexible with your goals and how you are going to get to them. I like to think of my goals as my internal G.P.S. (Global Positioning System – like in your satellite navigation system). The destination remains the same throughout my journey but I may have to change course, take a different path, ‘recalculate’ my position. I am on course towards a destination, doesn’t matter how I get there, more importantly doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as I am making progress towards my goal.
My path was a little coiled. This process of self discovery involved a whole team of people. Imagine that? Little ‘ole me sitting there thinking, ‘I wonder how I can get my sorry self and my lovely young horse from here to competition standard. Hmmm, I’ll need an entire support team, just like the professionals do’.
I didn’t think that at all, but it turned out to be the case. Particularly when I discovered how years of bending over a computer had left me with a tendency to round my shoulders, a fractured left clavical (the horse rider’s injury) which did not heal well left me unable to keep a correct alignment of my shoulder girdle and a fall on my backside had knocked my pelvis out of alignment. No wonder my poor horse and I were struggling.
Then there were the fitness issues – still a work in progress, not to mention my scribbly mess of a brain that couldn’t get organised let alone have the focus needed to train myself and my horse.
Then of course there’s my beautiful little girl A.K. She had physical issues too, culminating in back surgery in April 2015, followed by months of intensive rehabilitation. She’s back to full fitness now and ready to really begin her career.
So, for me our ‘support team’ consists of :
- A Chiropractor
- A Masseur
- A Tai Chi Teacher
- A Personal Trainer
- An Accountability Partner
- A Dressage Trainer
- Several Vets and
- A Physio,
There are others, I am sure, but these guys are the ones that straightened us out and keep us going!
2016 – Recalculate, At The Next Junction ..
My big picture plan is done. Here’s the plan.
- Medium level competition by Dec 2016
- British Dressage Nationals in Sept 2016 at Novice Silver
- Regional Qualification by Jun 2016
- First competition is scheduled for 4th Feb 2016 and is a Novice Summer Qualifier
My current focus is on rhythm, strength training for A.K. involving lots of transitions, my sitting trot (Humph!), canter work, bend, corners and circles (how difficult is it to ride a circle accurately?) and will remain so for the next couple of weeks
I am still working out at what point A.K. is at her best so that I can maximise our warm up.
Had a bit of a break-though with the canter last night when I actually felt my lower leg relax and my ankle begin to absorb the movement. This in turn assisted with the tension being generated in my upper thigh and enabled me to sit a little deeper, thus bringing A.K. back to me a little and allowing her to use her hind legs more. I’m excited to get on board tonight and build on that feeling.
Anyway, Horse Junkie friends, if you’ll have me I’d love to take you guys on my journey with me, hopefully I have done sufficient work in sorting out my body issues, A.K. is fit and ready so if I can keep out of her way we should be able to make some progress this year. But guess what? No matter what happens, I’m enjoying myself, I feel energised and focussed. It really is a great feeling.
Patricia Pitt is an award winning blogger from Huntington, Staffordshire, U.K. Known as The Dressage Tipster, in her blog at www.likecrystal.com she regularly shares what she has learned from her research into why becoming truly skilled in the art of dressage is so elusive to so many riders.
With burning aspirations to be able to ride well she became incredibly frustrated at her lack of progress and inability to find the keys to unlock her riding potential. Turning to her long suffering partner Mark Bentley, who was trained by the very best from the first time he sat in the saddle, she made a commitment to learn from him. By doing so, she has gained an insight into the extent of what is required; where she was going wrong and found that this resonates with many, many grassroots riders.
The process has enabled her to develop and share with you a progressive system of training that will aid your progress by asking you to question everything you do. Looking at how you think about your riding; how your body works and how your horse responds to your signals.