Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Win or Lose, Go Home and Practice

Okay so now that we've gotten all the celebrating out of the way, let's get real here.  We still have a long way to go. 

After explaining to a friend that I don't pay to schedule professional photos because I cringe at every photo of me riding and I can't imagine shelling out money in advance for photos I haven't even seen yet, she nudged her photographer friend who, in a well-meaning manner, decided to take photos of me anyway.  Which was a very nice gesture.

Cue meltdown.  

Don't get me wrong, the candids are adorable and I might buy one of them when I have the funds. Like this one, or this one, or maybe this one.  And the photos are very high quality. As for my riding, well, that's another story.

What the photos show is that, more often than not, my horse is behind the vertical and overflexed, my reins are too long, and I'm leaning forward.  My elbows appear to defy gravity.  My left wrist has a horrible break in it.  I am staring at my horse's neck in almost every shot.  As for the canter, while there are moments where I'm actually sitting up, this is a two-point, and this is just standing up out of the tack.  And don't even get me started on the zig-zag leg yield, which earned us a 5.0/5.5.  Not our best, but I knew it at the time, and it's still a hard movement for us.  Tucker looks lovely here, and it felt lovely, but GOOD LORD, what am I doing up there?

(Also, as an aside that I include here purely for comedic value, if you have ever wondered what the most awkward human being on Earth looks like, she looks just like this.  (It's totally okay to laugh.)  I think I have some kind of disorder where I see photos of myself and I want to never leave my house again.  Is that a real thing?  Or just a normal thing that incredibly awkward people feel whenever their awkwardness is captured on film?)

So I know this post is going to sound like I'm being super hard on myself, and unnecessarily woe-is-me, and I know some of you may be thinking, "this brat came in second place and she's complaining, I am sick of reading this stupid blog," but my point is that even when we have a really successful day, there is plenty to work on.  Denny Emerson posted a quote on his facebook wall that of course I can't find, but it said something like, "If you lose, go home and try to make it better.  And if you win, go home and try to make it better."  

If you are a video person, and all the links above were too annoying to click through:  

Test 2: 

Test 3:

There are parts that are great, which I highlighted in yesterday's feel-good post.  There are also parts that are not so great, which we still need to work on.  We have definitely made improvements in many respects, but that doesn't mean we're done. And that's probably the part of our sport that is equal parts frustrating and motivating -- there is ALWAYS room for improvement.  


  1. I feel the same way every single time I see a photo of myself on a horse (or, in general).

  2. My go-to strategy is to get video of a ride, and then go through it frame by frame and cherry-pick the (one or two) frames I can stand to look at. ;D

  3. I'm just so glad that I'm not the only one! I HATE pictures of myself with a passion and just try to avoid cameras.

  4. yep it sounds like you're being super hard on yourself lol - i saw quite a few lovely pics in there - really truly, including a nice one from the first halt.

    tho obvi yes i agree that there's always more to work on at the end of the day, and the goal is always to get better. but that shouldn't dissipate our happiness in the things we got right (or at least more right than previously). gotta celebrate the small steps (even if they include too-long reins or gravity-defying elbows)! congrats again!

  5. I avoid watching video or looking at pictures of myself riding. It's far too depressing. I think that's a pretty common thread with dressage people. I thought you looked great, though. Except for those black gloves, that's a total DQ faux pas! ;)

  6. LOL, ok this cracked me up. You're totally being too hard on yourself BUT I get your point and commend you being so real and vulnerable. I don't know what's worse, the awkward dressage photos (I've bought like 2 dressage photos of myself in 20+ years of riding) or jump photos where my horse looks amazeballs and I am making a RIDICULOUS face over the fence. There are some stunning shots in there, I'd have a hard time choosing! When I took my last lesson (4 months preggo) my hubs took pics and I was holding my hands all high up in the air in every shot...I guess it was a weird balance thing I was trying to compensate for the belly, LOL.

  7. Just make sure you are aware of how far you've come. It's easy to pick apart everything about ourselves, but harder to see the bigger picture.

  8. It's really hard to feel like you look one way on the horse and then see pics and see something different than what you felt. You complimented my position--which, THANK YOU, made my day--but I still look at those pictures and nitpick. Because like you, I'm an overachiever, a perfectionist. It's hard to not be perfect at our passion.

    THAT SAID: You are a fabulous rider, and your horse is lovely. I bet Mr Long Ears wouldn't trade you for Charlotte Dujardin because you are his human, and you can bring out the best in him because you have a very special relationship. Keep celebrating!

  9. I think you're being too critical. Tucker is a lovely horse, and in at least one photo you have a beautiful smile. 15-20 years from now you'll love every one of them.

  10. I feel your pain! Just remember that you are most likely your own worst critic. I see photos of other people riding and I am much better looking at the big picture than on my own photos.

  11. Victory gallop photo=YES. :-)

    As for the rest, I feel you. Apparently, dressage is really goddamn hard and I look less than magical trying to put it all together.

    That said, tomorrow I will have the ultimate training tip to fix your position. Just saying.

  12. You are crazy...and I mean that in the nicest possible way! You know I adore you! I know what picture you are looking for, the one where you position is perfect, your horse looks perfect, and you are smiling and taking it all on. Pictures like that are nearly impossible. I once rode with a person who worked at a dressage magazine and I asked her how many photos were the norm for a 3 page spread with 5 pictures...she said several hundred! Without even blinking! Riding is hard work, and dressage involves a lot of thinking, so to look like your relaxed and having fun is not normal. Your position is improving tons! You might not want to be where you want to be, but you have come a long way.

    I want to buy a copy of the four of you waiting for awards and hang it in my house because it is a picture that shows me nothing but love and good times! Isn't that the best thing any picture can show?

  13. Hahaha, I am the same way about photos! It's so hard for me to NOT critique every little thing. But at the end of the day, life is about the journey and a photo is a snapshot of that moment... which no matter what is either a winning moment or a precious learning moment. Both are good!


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