#Maredrama and I have been hitting the flat pretty hard the last few weeks to work on relaxing while we work. I look at my previous dressage test as a report card and I know exactly where I need to improve to get my score where I want it to be. We are heading to a small dressage schooling show this month and my goal is to simply improve on our score from the last time.

I’ve been running into some pretty obvious roadblocks to our progression as a team and it comes from both sides of the saddle (so to speak). Let’s talk about my horrible habits first: I am built like an athlete (search: Mesomorph body type) with very high muscle density. This comes from medical professionals when I can afford an adjustment for myself instead of my horse. This means I have to pay attention to my protein and calorie intake like a hawk because I need to consume a bit more than the average person. If I don’t, I am fatigued and my muscles ache and don’t recover as quickly which results in poor riding. I swim three days per week with the local Master’s swim team for cardio and by the time I hit the saddle on those days, my legs sometimes say a polite, “No thank you” and stop working for the day much to #Maredrama’s delight since she knows a nice hack will be all we accomplish that day.

I started out riding dressage in high school but I have been riding hunter/jumpers for the past ten years or so. I’ve got a solid half seat that is my go to when either I or my horse gets off balance. I feel secure and at home there but as we all know, it is slightly frowned upon while completing your dressage test. Lately while schooling, I’ve been dropping my stirrups and reminding myself to glue my ass to the saddle. #Maredrama is a very comfortable horse to ride so I rarely feel like I’m going to be bounced off but I still have days where I struggle to keep myself where I want to be in the tack. If I want her to utilize her hind end more I need to fix myself first so I can give correct and concise cues to accomplish what I am asking for.

My hunter forward seat looking a little lost in the dressage ring!

My forward hunter seat looking a little lost in the dressage ring!

In hunterland, a nice forward seat is applauded and gives that streamline look of horse and rider working together seamlessly. Well, looking at pictures from my last dressage test, I’ve got a forward seat that even George Morris would be proud of! Of course, not a great technique for the sandbox. After a short visit by my high school dressage trainer who came south for a whirlwind horse shopping tour, her voice is chanting in my head: Shoulders back, sink into the saddle, breath and count your rhythm out loud…  Yes, I am convinced she is sitting on my shoulder while I ride at all times!

I am scheduled to head out with a friend and local trainer for some schooling in the next couple weeks and I am looking forward to more tips to help me help my horse!