CalgaryDressage…Help in Half Pass

I’m preparing for my first show of the season here in Thermal. My coach, Jewels Vysniauskas, has been so very patient with us. I don’t know how many times she has had to say “Kim, widen your hands” or “Kim you need to ride with more leg”. I have a degree in Kinesiololgy and also a degree in Education and she needs to remind me of basics day in day out.  I told Jewels that she is a saint for being so patient with her students.

I coach Academy students at home and I realize we all need help. Dressage is a dynamic, cooperative process between horse and rider. I tend to think so hard about what I’m doing from a technical aspect, that it can block out the feel you have from the horse. This is like riding blind. There is no feedback.  When there is no feedback, we just try harder, get stiff and carry on, even though the horse is saying “Wait….way too much information”. The horse goes into “fight or flight mode” and you have difficulties with stiffness or resistance. Usually the horse gets blamed for this, even though the rider causes it in the first place.

My half pass experience yesterday began like this. Jewels set us up beautifully with exercises to make the half pass flow. My horse is not a big lateral mover, but he is quite capable when I don’t over ride. I finally found “the sweet spot” for correct flexion. I found the correct mix of leg and hand, if only for a moment.  A moment in time is good enough to achieve the feeling and to be able to mind map it as a way point in my brain’s GPS.  I know I can go back to that feel tomorrow or the next day of training.

We pack up for the Del Mar show on Sunday and will train in San Diego for the week before the show.