I feel so privileged to have such wonderful horses to ride. I not only love them, but I also very much appreciate them, and all they have to offer me, and even though it’s not always easy, all they have to teach me. So I’ve been told, the hardest horses have the most to teach you. I’m inclined to agree. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve wished for an easier horse, one physically and mentally made for dressage, in my moments of frustration. But when I take a step back, I know as well as anyone that every horse has its challenges and its shortcomings, and really, the challenges I face are MY challenges, not my horses’. With each challenge comes an opportunity to learn and grow as a rider.
So, when I get frustrated, I have to ask myself, “How bad do you want it?”
And the answer is always, “Pretty darn bad!!”
“How much are you willing to do?” “Whatever it takes!”
And with that in mind, a month or so ago I set off to tackle the latest challenge: sitting Remy’s big trot. We could get through the 2nd level test pretty smoothly, and the other day we even rode 3rd level test 3 with just a few little blips. Clearly the horse is ready, able, and willing! The only thing holding Remy back at the moment is his rider. We can’t take it down the centerline until I can sit the extended trot for the full length of the long diagonal…
So I’ve added running a few days a week to my routine, and I’m happy to report that it hasn’t taken long to see some pretty serious improvements! Even better, I feel the change. When I ride Remy now, I feel like I can stop when he needs a break, rather than having to stop when I can’t breathe or am ready to crumble into a mushy heap on his back. My last run was 4 miles in 43 minutes, so I think my cardio fitness is getting pretty good!! I’d still like to push it even better, but I’m trying to pace myself and not push it so far that I can’t ride after running. I’ve also added some strengthening work, like sit ups, push ups, pull ups (yes, I can do a few!!), and LOTS of stretching, which also seems to be helping me in the saddle.
It’s been just over a month, and I’m happy to report that I’m able to sit the trot I thought I’d never be able to sit!! I don’t think I can hold it together for an entire long diagonal yet (we have a short, square ring, so it’s hard to judge though…), but it’s getting better and better by the day.
Seeing and feeling the progress has me super motivated. It’s always hard to start a new workout routine, and I hear it from my riders all the time… they know they should, they know it would help, but there are always SO many excuses not to! Well, how bad do you want it? Push yourself through those first few weeks, and when you start seeing results you’ll be hooked. If nothing else, do it for your horse!