Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Finding the balance between the 3 phases of eventing... hard! I totally understand why this sport is so challenging. In addition to galloping solid fences over various terrain in almost any weather to the technical obedience and precision of dressage and stamina of stadium. It really does test your horses rideability and your team work in all three. 

Just because I like this photo
Take the name eventing out of it for a mere moment and think of it as cross training. Coincidentally this is how I was described eventing when I first learned about it just a few short years ago. It is so incredibly beneficial for both horse and rider to have a strong foundation in dressage in order to jump well.

Trust me, I have seen the difference the dressage has made for Tillie's ability to jump up hill.

Not very uphill
yay, uphill!
I took a dressage lesson yesterday with C and what I realized a few things:

  1. While Tillie has been Killing it jumping lately, our dressage isnt really as awesome as it was back when we did the fix a test 
  2. I am a really crooked mess and need to see an orthopedist (No seriously...)
  3. I need to find a balance in lessons where I can budget to fit more dressage in like the winter months.
Back when our dressage felt the best
Ill elaborate on all 3...

1. I recently realized flatting at home, we just didnt feel quite as relaxed, soft or willing when doing dressage. It seems to have started when our crazy weather sorta went bonkers and got super cold again...Especially when changing rein from right to tracking left. Her left bend has been SUPER stiff lately. It tends to be our trickier side usually...but there is something in the recent rides that it just feels like I cant get her to work out of it. 

I usually describe her feeling like clay. At first we get on and it requires some kneading. Massaging it to get it warm and squishy and bendable. Usually after a good warm up, she evens out and her neck and body feel like a rubber band. 

Lately I dont get it out of her. Maybe i need to revert back to how we used to warm up with the over bending and gradual warm hindsight those seemed to work well for her. 

Left bend problems
In the lesson she was hollowing out in transitions walk to trot and usually shes pretty spot on for those...canter transitions were just not clean and I felt like I was getting jostled all around. Its disappointing when it hasnt been that way, but I guess our recent jump focus has caused some of these nuances to revert. I realize that I also have been riding her as frequently the last two weeks as I should with having to teach heres to hoping weekends start allowing more lessons. 

2. Most of the lesson sort of gotten hijacked just trying to get me straight. I couldnt get my weight down in my left leg and it was coming too far back behind the girth and my left shoulder kept creeping forward. When I would try to even out my body just would go haywire. My entire body is twisting and its a real struggle to get it straight. C encouraged me to go see a DR since Chiro didnt seem to help...le sigh. I guess I need to make that appointment.

My body really aches today from it...

You can sorta see me doing it here
C had me drop my right stirrup for a bit and shockingly Tillie felt better. So now its a matter of chicken or the egg. Am I causing her left side issues or is she causing me to twist or are we just not helping each other? 

I also realized that I am helping her waaayyy too much with my right rein tracking left. I am using it way too much to keep her on the track when it should be coming from my inside left leg. BUT with me not getting weight into it, that would make sense why I am compensating. 

It became really apparent in our leg yields in the lesson. C was super impressed regardless at how well she did with them, but leg yielding tracking right to left she really didnt want to stay parallel to the wall (ahem, left leg not working and my right hand cant fix this). 

Because she's cute

This all leads me to #3. I think most of the above issues are stemming from my lessons with C being way too spaced out. With jumping confidence issues being a fairly recent thing which allowed me to try P and take those jump lessons....I think it was exactly what I needed to get back on track. I plan to continue lessons with her, but in order to afford more dressage lessons with C I may need to cut back on the P lessons. 

I will definitely watch it, and maybe this is a for now type thing...but dressage is the foundation for the rest of it. That needs to not suffer. My confidence in Tillie over fences is there, but it does stem to how much I can trust her on the flat and lately its been back to the rushing, bracing and baiting me into hands type stuff. I want to get back to that sweet spot in dressage where she almost feels like a push ride and I have a good contact, not this fake contact where shell suck back at any minute. 


  1. Pongo was jumping his best when we were doing dressage three times a week (one lesson two by myself) hill work once and jumping once a week. When I was doing dressage I was really focusing on getting him straight, soft, and adjustable. Obviously this isn't the only way to go about things but it is some food for thought. I only discovered it because I lack confidence to jump outside of lessons. Also I am also skewed because I love dressage more than jumping. :)

  2. So I don't know your medical history, but I do know doctors. Unless you have a specific pain symptom (ex: It hurts HERE when I move like THIS.), they aren't going to be able to help you very much. A sports medicine doctor would be a better bet than your regular GP. I would also suggest seeing a massage therapist that specializes in athletes or deep tissue/myofascial massage. Many times, we don't realize how tight our muscles have gotten. That tension keeps us from being as flexible as we would like. I've had really good luck combining a long (1-1.5 hour) massage session with regular yoga/active stretching routines to help keep my body working fluidly and keeping my awareness of tight spots.

    That said. I haven't done these things for a long while, and I notice that I cannot get my right leg to do what I want any more. Time for yoga again. Gross. ;)

  3. I'm right with you on #2. I'd like a chiro to follow me around and adjust the things that need adjusting as I need them (like my left ankle part way through my ride last night). It's so frustrating.