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Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Dressage Training - 19.09.2020

Team Tunnah Equestrian Blog Dressage Training 19.09.2020

It had been around four weeks since our last dressage training session and I'd been working hard to practice what we'd done in the last session in between - mostly keeping Louie's neck supple and improving his forward reaction off my leg. However, in between, we'd also been to our first dressage competition since the end of February, and we'd had a couple of showjumping sessions. If you caught up with our most recent showjumping training session, you'll have heard that we were struggling at home a little in between too.

I was really looking forward to the session with Cathy - the last one we had was relaxed, fun and I think I had a smile on my face for most of it! I'd hoped that the session would be the same again, but progressing forward with some of the work we'd put in at home. Unfortunately, my own self-confidence got in the way, or lack of it.

I'd been struggling, getting into a bit of a pulling war with Louie, and our work hasn't been going as smoothly or consistently as we would have liked. Perfect timing for a lesson without a doubt, but my lack of confidence left me thinking it wasn't possible to have a fun and relaxed lesson with things going as they were.

I should have put that thought right out of my head and instead looked to Cathy for support with our work becoming smoother. Instead, within five minutes of me getting on, I'd let my own brain take over control fully and find everything that was wrong. 

From then on, that was it.  Everything went downhill. And the starting "issue"... Louie wasn't quite into my outside rein as much as I'd have liked. Only on the right rein. So instead of thinking what could I do to have Louie more up, between my leg and into my hand, I became OBSESSED with getting him instantly into that rein and taking more contact. 

There were plenty of exercises I could have done to help with this, but instead, I chose to allow myself to think I was useless and had nothing in my tool kit to help improve it. I didn't think to do transition, in or out of the pace (even though Cathy suggested it), I didn't think to move Louie's bend around from inside, to straight to outside (again, even though Cathy suggested it). Everything by me became an overreaction to the outside rein contact.

The more I focused on it, the more tension Louie carried. The more tense Louie got, the worse our trot quality got, and the more frustrated I got with the initial issue, which by this time wasn't even an issue anymore! 

Having self-confidence and self-belief are two incredible qualities to have - both very powerful to support your progress, but can be equally detrimental to it when they disappear. 

Nothing that anyone was going to say to me in that 40 minute period was going to change my mind in that I was anything other than unfit, rusty and incapable of working horse correctly. My brain was letting me think I was completely incapable of riding, and that Louie & I were still at the same stage as we were during our first few months together. 

You only have to look at a video of last year and this year to see the progress we have made, let alone jumping back five years!!

Thankfully Andrew had come to the lesson with me, so was able to film for me. Filming is one of the best ways to look back at yourself riding to see the positives and the things that you can work on. Andrew took over 15 minutes of footage, and throughout it, I can see where all my self-doubt creeps in and turns into frustration. But there are so many minutes of really strong work... & that's on a day when it kind of all went to pot! 

I need to take that confidence there as a way to build back up and see that I am very capable and need to make sure that I don't allow myself to become fixated on a small imperfection that prevents me from progressing and, importantly, enjoying my time in the saddle with Louie.

Something I'm going to try out is a more interval-style to my training, working on something for 5 minutes, taking a long rein break for 1-2 minutes, before picking back up and working on either the same thing or something related. It could be something as simple as doing the same thing but in a different floor pattern. The idea behind this is to basically stop just keeping going round and round, fixating on things that aren't quite right. I'll need to use each 5-minute slot wisely! So let's see how that goes over the next few weeks...

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