I see myself as much more of a show jumper or even an eventer despite the fact that I haven’t done a cross country course since 2012. I never really thought of myself as a dressage rider, I was in fact told off by a dressage instructor once for “riding like an eventer“.
However one of the main focuses I have for this year is working to improve our dressage. Right now we are at Prelim level and I would hope that Eva and I could maybe do a novice test by the end of the year and hopefully not put ourselves to too much shame. So, how the hell do I hope to achieve this? Well. Good question.
Firstly I need to take a hard look on how I ride. I need to demand a bit more quality rather than quantity when I ride. I need Eva to be OFF.THE.LEG. When I ask for forward I need it now. I work too hard when I ride, it has been commented on many times. I am doing all the work and when I stop working Eva stops. This needs to change, in fact it needed to change about two years ago but thats besides the point. I have therefore bought a small set of spurs which I wear sparingly but do intend to start using them more. The only reason I wear them sparingly at the moment is because Eva tends to throw in a little pas de basque in protest when ever they are used (see the video below for pas de basque). I hope that eventually she will come round to understanding that if she moves away from the pressure instead of pick a fight with it, the pressure goes away.
Secondly I need to have more focus on what I am doing when I ride. Eva is a horse that works better when you go in with a plan, do something twice then move on and come back to it later. If I keep doing the same thing she switches off. Incorporating more pole work into my rides will help keep it diversified for the both of us.
Thirdly we both need experience. I have competed in a total of 5 dressage competitions, including the three on Eva, and Eva has only done the three. In order to gain more experience I am going to try to enter every monthly dressage competition that is held at the yard. Therefore it will become part of routine and the less scary it becomes for the both of us the more we can focus and really try to improve on our score rather than prance about because all of a sudden there is flowers in the arena and new horses in the school.
Finally it is much easier to do something if you have a why. Why am I wanting to improve my dressage? Thats simple really as mentioned above I am your typical wannabe eventer if I had a transport or could afford the 100 quid in transport and entry costs before even setting foot on the cross country course it would be a perhaps be a different story. But until that point were we can go out eventing I can work hard to get the individual disciplines up to scratch. Plus working on our dressage will help with her subtleness which is definitely needed.