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[[![LonelyReality]!]]
Aug. 1, 2009, 11:26 PM
I love riding, I love dressage, but I’m a perfectionist- and dressage is no place for the perfectionist.

A retired “R” judge who I do clinics with once a month has said that my OTTB could, in time, do 3rd level- and win. She also said that he could take me to USDF juniors and such…I just feel…stuck. Also, the clinics with the retired dressage judge are pretty much all the “lessons” I do (dressage wise anyways).

I record my rides and can’t help to critique myself; My mother says that I’m too hard on myself, but I just see so many problems!

-I have “trainers hands” as some people call them- I twist my left wrist really weirdly at times and break the line from bit to elbow.

-My horse doesn’t have the best trot (which really annoys me!?) and you can tell that he tracks up a lot more with his left hind- he has no health issues. He, being a TB, has trouble keeping his “power triangle” (stifle area) built up which is the problem, and will track up with his right hind at times. Even when he has enough impulsion, he usually doesn't track up with that right hind.

-He gets “behind the vertical” at times during trot- he’ll stay on the vertical a lot, but still, at times, will go behind the vertical.

-My horses’ transitions suck- even though I work on them A LOT. He'll stick his nose out while asking for halt, he’ll sometimes rush into canter, canter-trot downward transitions are bad…his head has to go up while asking for a trot (then he’ll go “onto the vertical”).


Any advice? What do you do when you feel stuck?

meupatdoes
Aug. 1, 2009, 11:31 PM
Three out of the four things you mentioned started with "my horse" and finished with a complaint.


Start by appreciating the effort he is putting in for you from the minute he steps in the ring. If you are getting a good EFFORT from him, you should be thinking how perfect and wonderful he is in every way and appreciating what he is offering, whether whatever he is making an effort at would get a 9 from a judge or a 5.

No horse is perfect, but as long as he is making the effort, every rider should think he is.

Pony Fixer
Aug. 1, 2009, 11:47 PM
!]];4277668']I love riding, I love dressage, but I’m a perfectionist- and dressage is no place for the perfectionist.

I would say dressage is EXACTLY the place for a perfectionist.


!]];4277668']
-My horses’ transitions suck- even though I work on them A LOT. He'll stick his nose out while asking for halt, he’ll sometimes rush into canter, canter-trot downward transitions are bad…his head has to go up while asking for a trot (then he’ll go “onto the vertical”).


I'm being a perfectionist here, but actually YOUR transitions "suck". Horses are not ridden in a vacuum.

Advice? Be hard on yourself, read, watch, lessons when you can. Acknowledge your horses limitations, but do not blame him for your shortcomings.

meupatdoes
Aug. 1, 2009, 11:59 PM
I would say dressage is EXACTLY the place for a perfectionist.

I'm not sure that ANY horse sport is a place for a perfectionist.

Some riders use the fact that they are doing dressage as a reason/excuse/whatever to never be truly happy with the horse's effort, to never allow the horse to express any playfulness or personality, and to ride like they are handing out a task list to the horse that must be checked off and directives that must be obeyed.

It becomes a very, "I assign you a task, I assess if you have performed it adequately, I assign you the next task, I assess..." type of riding.

The horse gets no room to have a personality.
He is simply there to perform the test.

Pony Fixer
Aug. 2, 2009, 12:08 AM
I'm not sure we are using the word in the same way, maybe. I see a perfectionist as someone with an extreme attention to detail, not as a drill sargeant.

In other words I see the word perfect (the verb) as per Webster: to make perfect, improve, refine.

I see what you mean, though, and agree as well.

Dressage Art
Aug. 2, 2009, 01:56 AM
I think it's quite normal to feel stuck time to time. Frustration and disappointment about the lack of progress are felling that are easy for some people to fall in to. You have to take an extra care not to give in to those feelings. You have to count your lucky stars: try to think what you are enjoying about your training and riding your horse? Try to think and ride more positive and this positive energy will transfer to your horse. Be patient and may be give yourself more time to get to your goals. Good luck and enjoy your horse!

egontoast
Aug. 2, 2009, 05:27 AM
I was expecting to read that you were too much of a perfectionist about your own riding but instead it seems you are focussed on what you see as your horse's shortcomings.

This may be because you are working alone for the most part at least on dressage training. How many times a week are you schooling your horse in dressage?

If you could somehow get more regular instruction then you might see more progress. You may also want to try and find the fun in riding again by riding out with friends (if that is possible).

slc2
Aug. 2, 2009, 06:43 AM
ooooh boy. I read this one and said to myself, I ain't touching this one with a ten foot pole. Because if anyone told you the truth, you'd most likely bite their head off. WHAT an attitude you got there! Oh well, here goes. I love the smell of burning flames on a sunday morning.

Summary, for those who dislike long posts:

Calm down, get frequent riding lessons, and learn a new attitude.


1. Dressage is frustrating. Recognize it. When you get frustrated, take a deep breath, count to ten, and say, 'I'm going to let go of this. I'm not going to lose my temper or get freaked out. I'm NOT going to get off this horse, or tear up.....One...two...three....' and then DO IT. Make it happen. Recognize the feeling, then let go of it. Let it wash over you like a wave at the beach, and then let it pass. Don't hold onto it.

2. Dressage will change you. It will improve how you deal with EVERYTHING. You will learn to have perspective, patience, and understanding, yet still work hard toward a goal. It's no good to JUST have perspective, or JUST be understanding. You have to learn to have that AND work in a focused and concentrated way, toward a goal, WITHOUT getting overly emotional about it.

I think your tone can be partially explained by the fact that probably, you're at that vulnerable stage where you are starting to get an idea of what your ride is supposed to be like, but you don't really know how to get your ride to be that way. Quit the occasional clinics and get riding lessons twice a week or more often. You have no perspective and no judgement about your or your horse's performance.

This sort of Perfectionism comes out of a lack of knowledge, a lack of judgement, and a lack of perspective, but most of all, lack of experience. This isn't the kind of perfectionism that causes a person to say, 'I'm going to ride 10 horses a day til I can focus and keep my hand straight', or 'I'll walk, sit, talk, study, and SLEEP with my hand straight, until it's straight when I ride!' or 'I;l ride with a splint taped to my arm so every time I get it crooked, that splint will poke my arm and remind me to straighten it'.

To change your mindset, watch some videos of top professional riders, and ask yourself if any of them have your....attitude. No, they don't. They almost always have a very, very clear and matter-of-fact attitude toward their own riding ('I made a mistake so I lost some points there') and their horse ('he's a great horse and has come a long way'). Their view of their horse and their riding is ACCURATE, FACTUAL, and COMPLETE, meaning they see the positive as well as the negative points, and how what they've achieved AND what they need to work on.

Usually, the way a person learns this, is by having an instructor TEACH them it. Over and over and over and over. Day after day after day.

To develop these, you need an instructor who TELLS you, every ride, what was good, what was bad, what was better, what was worse. And finally, after a lot of repetition, YOU learn, what was good, what was bad, what was better, what was worse.

And like most young people I've met all my life in dressage, you think if it ain't happening, it's your horse's fault. Almost every sentence starts with 'The horse....'. Well it isn't the horse.

Which, sorry, but what you're describing, is you responsibility. If you can't have patience with your horse and yourself, and yet take criticism and work hard each day, dressage just isn't the sport for you.

There is no place in dressage for perfectionists if perfectionist means always mad at the horse and always complaining like what ypu're writing in your post. If you can't get control of your emotions, quit dressage.

It is no good to not like how something is going and just keep going about it the same way. Your occasional clinic sessions are the worst way to try and learn dressage. Get riding lessons twice a week or more often, from a good trainer.

It's no good to be 'hard on yourself', but that isn't what your post says. Your post is just plain old complaining. About your horse. I think your mom has you read wrong, unless you say different things to her than you've said here.

1. He has a poor quality trot

2. He only tracks up with the right hind sometimes though he has no health problems

3. His transitions aren't good

These are all rider things. Not horse things.

4. Your one wrist isn't straight.

That's a rider thing. Your hand is a part of you, and you have control over what it does. You need to learn to concentrate on it and fix it. Most likely, your one hand being crooked is related to your horse not tracking up on the other side, and either the clinician has already told you what to do about it and you haven't listened, or the clinician needs to be replaced.

The trick with any 'technical' sport is to be able to take criticism and use it to improve your performance. If you can't take criticism, or you can't apply it to yourself to improve your riding, you really need to do something else.

A lot of this is maturity. Teenagers tend to get frustrated with dressage, though this is HARDLY a problem confined to teenagers. The detail of it and the requirement to be able to take what someone says and put it into action, without getting frustrated, is difficult. The teenager brain often tends to extremes of mood, and over react to situations and don't tend to see that their own behavior causes much of what happens around them. One lesson that doesn't go well is a crisis and there tends to be a 'frustration barrier' the person has to break through if they are ever to get anywhere.

TOO, some of this is age. MOST teenagers don't have good 'proprioception', which means knowing how your body parts are oriented or positioned, it's also called 'spatial awareness' or 'body awareness'. MOST teens haven't ever done anything to develop their proprioception. Try yoga or tai chi. Or dance. The REASON the proprioception is bad is simple - teenagers are growing taller and their proportions are changing. The brain has to catch up. To avoid becoming an adult with bad proprioception, work on it.

TOO....bad proprioception goes with a lack of focus, and a mind that is always thinking way too many thoughts at once, and zooming around in a million directions. 'Oh my god, the trainer says to use an opening rein, but I CAN'T, I just CAN'T, that's something you 're only supposed to do with young horses, and he's not a young horse, and I don't want to be riding him that way, and BESIDES, I read an article last week that said not to use an opening rein if your horse is doing this....of course, it was an article on Western riding, and I THINK it would apply to this..but Oh my god....'

Not that adults are free of this. YOU HAVE TO LEARN TO CONCENTRATE. Consider meditation, which can help you focus. If you can focus, you can fix things. Otherwise, you can't.

You have to be just as understanding of yourself and your own problems as you need to be of your horse. 'Well, he's an off the track horse, so even tracking is something I have to understand how to fix.' It doesn't mean you don't WORK at it, but it means as you work at it, you keep your patience and realize correcting it is about YOUR RIDING. Same with yourself. 'Ohhhh....my hand is crooked....AGONEEEEE' is not what you want. 'My hand is crooked, I need to work on that. Iwill ask WHY it is crooked - is there a more fundamental fault in my position I need to work on WITH it?'

Also, you may very well need to realize this isn't Super Grand Prix Horse. He may be a nice horse for you to learn how to ride and train on, and still have shortcomings that keep him from ever being perfect. We laern to improve these horses and ourselves, and in that we learn a very, veyr valuable lesson.

We have all had horses like this - they are worth a million dollars in gold for all they teach us, and that's where their value is. They teach us so much, and give us so much, that we will for the rest of our lives, remember them - hopefully with a far better understanding than we had when young.

So do it. Get control of your feelings, adopt a much more positive attitude. Learn by listening to your trainer, what is good, etc. Be able to come out of a lesson and say, 'Today, my sitting trot was better, but I have not corrected the position of my hand. That will be my focus in my free rides for the next two weeks. I know I can fix this.'

Accept constructive criticism from an instructor, and make it work for you. Get frequent lessons, and learn by repetition to see what was good, what was bad, what needs improvement, and then improve it.

Roan
Aug. 2, 2009, 06:48 AM
I think you're at that vulnerable stage where you are starting to get an idea of what your ride is supposed to be like, but you don't really know how to get your ride to be that way.

And like most young people I've met all my life, you think if it ain't happening, it's your horse's fault.

Whiceheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee eeee

Fall asleep on the keyboard, slc2?

:D

Eileen

Caroline Weber
Aug. 2, 2009, 07:24 AM
Something that may help you is to take a step back and think about why you ride horses and dressage in particular. Is it because you enjoy seeing the improvement in your horse's movement and responsiveness over time? Is it because you like seeing positive judge's comments at the bottom of your test, confirming that you've been doing a good job with your horse? Is it because you like dressing up, showing off, and having people tell you what a good rider you are? People choose dressage for a variety of reasons. You may find that you will be able to enjoy riding more once your inner dialogue changes from, "His transitions are crap, so we can't put together a good test, so we won't be able to get qualifying scores, and then I'll be too old for NAYRC! My life sucks!", to "His transitions need work, but if I can figure out why he's having trouble with them and school them until I'm confident, we can go to a show and see what else I need to concentrate on so he can develop into a horse I could go to NAYRC with".

I used to show quite a bit, but now that I have one not-ideally conformed horse, I spend most of my time schooling and focus a great deal on maintaining the basics during a movement. "I can get him to move sideways" doesn't mean %$#@ if you can't keep him straight and forward while doing so. There's very little point to trying for greater angle in the shoulder-in if I can't keep the outside shoulder from collapsing. And so on, and so forth. I do go to recognized shows occasionally, but mostly I enjoy the fact that if my mare is anticipating the changes one day, I don't have to worry about the possibility of blowing that line of tempis this weekend. It's much less stressful for both my horse and I...this doesn't mean that I let the horse just bop around, but I'm also in a position to say, "She's tired and doing her best today, so we'll quit with this good effort she just gave me and work on keeping the jump in the pirouettes tomorrow" rather than "this %#&@ing horse leans on her forehand just to piss me off" (an attitude surprisingly common in both younger riders and adults).

As far as improving your riding, try being more of a "thinking" rider and try to fix the problem rather than its effects. If my horse is crooked in her body, rather than trying to contort myself to put her body parts back where they belong, I fix the cause of the problem - I concentrate on having even weight on my seatbones as I sit. If my horse feels heavy in my hand, I push her up with my seat and leg while thinking "give" with my fingers and elbows. If my horse isn't going forward enough, I make sure I'm not holding with my seat or hand before using a tap of the whip to send her forward. If she's falling on her forehand, is it because I'm letting her tip my weight forward? Repeat: fix the cause, not the symptom. This will also help you progress to the point where you have much fewer problems because you fix the cause very quickly or simply don't allow it to happen.

Hope this long post is coherent enough, have been up for a few hours doing my barn in sort of a sleepwalking daze. :lol:

slc2
Aug. 2, 2009, 07:40 AM
No, Roan, I have been up for hours. The computer has a hardware error that acts up frequently.

PS, original poster, how about a slightly more positive login name than 'Lonely Reality'. That is way too self pitying.

How about 'Getting there is ALL the fun!' or 'SuperOTTB'

CTM
Aug. 2, 2009, 07:56 AM
Great post slc2! Thanks for taking the time to write that; it will help others I'm sure.

nadasy
Aug. 2, 2009, 07:58 AM
Really Excellent post Caroline! Thinking beyond can always be a great solution to a relatively simple issue. Like everyone, I have some asymmetrical issues, and this is the first thing I check (right away when I get on my horse at the mounting block) and then as we are working through things that day, find it much easier for the corrections and solutions to come, and ending up on a positive note. Fortunately I have a wonderful 'R' judge who works with me and keeps me on track. LOL

Bogie
Aug. 2, 2009, 08:11 AM
!]];4277668'
-I have “trainers hands” as some people call them- I twist my left wrist really weirdly at times and break the line from bit to elbow.

Take a few rides and concentrate JUST on yourself and your hands. Work on getting them right and see how much of a difference it makes to your horse.


-My horse doesn’t have the best trot (which really annoys me!?) and you can tell that he tracks up a lot more with his left hind- he has no health issues. He, being a TB, has trouble keeping his “power triangle” (stifle area) built up which is the problem, and will track up with his right hind at times. Even when he has enough impulsion, he usually doesn't track up with that right hind.

Do exercises that help your horse build the strength he needs to carry himself during the movements. Think trotting poles, hill work and properly done transitions. My horse is a TB and he has no trouble with his "power triangle." Make sure you give him rest time during your training sessions as this will be hard for him to sustain.


-He gets “behind the vertical” at times during trot- he’ll stay on the vertical a lot, but still, at times, will go behind the vertical.This is you, not him. Keep your leg on him and make sure you have a giving hand. Don't always hold him, but let him reach into the bridle. Softness is key. Also, remember to let him rest after he's worked for a few minutes. This is hard for him!


-My horses’ transitions suck- even though I work on them A LOT. He'll stick his nose out while asking for halt, he’ll sometimes rush into canter, canter-trot downward transitions are bad…his head has to go up while asking for a trot (then he’ll go “onto the vertical”). Make sure you are working on them correctly. Asking him wrong over and over again will not improve your transitions. Focus on this in your next training session with the judge so that you are SURE he is working from behind and pushing into the transition rather than pulling himself along on his forehand. Stop worrying about where his head is and think about what his hind end is doing.

Dressage is hard. Practice some of this out on the trails where there is more variety and your horse doesn't feel like his drilling. I find that doing transitions when out hacking is a great way to incorporate training into my rides while keeping my horse fresh.

Good luck.



Any advice? What do you do when you feel stuck?[/quote]

Roan
Aug. 2, 2009, 08:22 AM
No, Roan, I have been up for hours. The computer has a hardware error that acts up frequently.. . .

That would be a keyboard error, m'dear -- as in the 'e' key gets stuck. Quit drinking those sugary drinks while you type :)

Eileen

slc2
Aug. 2, 2009, 08:30 AM
The keyboard has been replaced. It's a hardware error according to Support, the e key is not getting stuck. You can't diagnose such things in the way you're trying to. And I don't drink any 'sugary drinks'.

SillyHorse
Aug. 2, 2009, 09:02 AM
!]];4277668']A retired “R” judge who I do clinics with once a month has said that my OTTB could, in time, do 3rd level- and win.

Any advice?
Find another clinician. Telling you your horse can "win" is a ridiculous statement. Does she somehow know who your competition will be when you show? On the other hand, if she told you you could be competitive, that's different.

We all get "stuck." I agree with others that you are blaming your horse for issues that are the result of your riding. Even his trot, which "annoys" you, will improve with good gymnastic work. He cannot and will not change any of this on his own. It's all up to you.

Fantastic
Aug. 2, 2009, 09:15 AM
Dressage is all about the details, and it is the attention to those details creates the beautiful harmony we strive to achieve in dressage. Dressage absolutely IS a place for perfectionists; to ride well, you must meticulously focus on the details.

You don't sound at all like a perfectionist. You sound more blaming, whiny and complaining. Your horse is going the way that you describe because you ride it that way, and not for any other reason. A true perfectionist would recognize the errors in their riding that THEY are making their horse "less than perfect", fix what they are doing, and smile and move on. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you aren't riding well, don't blame it on the horse! He is only a reflection of your riding ability.


being a TB, has trouble keeping his “power triangle” (stifle area) built up which is the problem, and will track up with his right hind at times. Even when he has enough impulsion, he usually doesn't track up with that right hind.
This doesn't make any sense. What is "stifle area"? You mean your horse has a stifle problem? Horse has trouble keeping up his power triangle (huh?) built up, oh you mean stifles (like a hind knee)? Sounds like he needs to see a vet. A horse should track evenly even if he isn't fit and "built up"(?). Sounds like he has a problem with that stifle? He's either got a lameness issue somewhere, or maybe his hind feet don't match in angle and toe length?

Caroline Weber
Aug. 2, 2009, 09:32 AM
Wanted to add another few things...OP, look at your signature. "Every time you ride you are either teaching or un-teaching your horse." Keep this in mind.

You say your horse rushes into the canter. Well, why? Is it because he isn't balanced enough when you ask for the transition? Is it because your aids aren't clear enough, and you clamp your legs to his sides trying to get him to respond, so he just trots faster and then rushes into the canter? Is it because you don't let him know a transition is coming, and he's startled when out of the blue, you want canter and you want it now?

What do you do when he rushes into the canter? Can you feel whether or not the transition will be good by the quality of the trot before you ask for canter? Depending on how you are riding him, it may be that he thinks rushing into the canter is what you want! Training a horse often involves walking some lines - you don't want to discourage him from cantering, but you also don't want to teach him that rushing into the transition is acceptable. Personally, I would work on the quality of the transitions for a while - don't ask for the canter unless the trot is as balanced as possible and you've let him know something is coming up. If he starts to rush when you put your aids on, half-halt, regain the quality of the trot, and try again. When you can consistently get balanced transitions, THEN work on performing transitions as you would have to in a dressage test. You may also find that mixing these two ways of schooling works well for you, if your horse needs to be reminded frequently that he should respond when you ask for something.

With regards to your comments about your horse's trot, why do you think he tracks up more with one hind leg than the other? You may be developing one side more than the other - if he is easier to ride more in one direction, you may do more work in that direction because it's a more pleasant ride. You may also be sitting crooked in the saddle, physically making it more difficult for him to bring that hind leg under himself.

If you find your horse's trot annoying, well, frankly, that's your fault. I'm not in love with my horse's trot either, but it's a lot better than when I started riding her - because I work on it. I would love nothing more than to steal the trot off of one of the horses in my trainer's barn, but horses don't work that way. Horses go the way they are ridden. I can either be irritated with it and enjoy riding less, or I can suck it up and RIDE my horse to develop that trot.

I do understand where you are coming from here - I'm a YR and as a WS for both big-name dressage and event trainers, I am often surrounded by people who, as a product of their own hard work or not, have horses that are vastly nicer than my own. I really think the key (as I discussed in my earlier post) is to think about why you ride. Think about what you CAN change in your situation. You may not be able to BUY a nicer horse, but you can MAKE your horse nicer by riding more correctly and helping him maintain a cheerful attitude towards being ridden.

Velvet
Aug. 2, 2009, 11:07 AM
The best thing for a perfectionist (and I know of what I speak) is to get off your own horse and go and ride other horses. Have a tons of longe lessons. Apply the perfectionism only to yourself for a while. Deal with the frustrations about your own seat, hands and legs in a place where the instructor controls the horse more, and you only have to work on yourself. Take your own horse on trail rides or hang out with eventers. That will help to teach you to live in the moment. (Heck, hanging out with people in a local hunt can show you how to just learn to enjoy your horse more.)

When you can put abilities you've learned by fixing your seat and taking the edge off your need to exceed your own expectations, then you can truly enjoy your horse--and your horse will enjoy you. Once you've reached that place, then the riding comes together and you can achieve what you dream. Until then, you'll often get in your own way and will be constantly frustrated.

Hampton Bay
Aug. 2, 2009, 03:06 PM
Relax! You're not curing cancer, you're riding a horse. Yes dressage is frustrating. Retraining a horse to respond correctly is frustrating. But blaming all problems on the horse and getting this bent out of shape over it is not going to do you any favors.

If you are frustrated, just imagine how your horse feels.

No horse is perfect. Not a single one. Some are more talented at dressage than others, but none are perfect. Be less critical of your horse, and I bet he will work even harder for you.

But if he is truly having a problem tracking up with his right hind, then he probably does have some kind of lameness in the hind end. Take him to the vet for some diagnostics, even if it means skipping some instruction. Not every unevenness is a strength issue.