This blog will chronicle one year in my dressage journey. My hope is that you learn something from my mistakes and my successes; that you find it entertaining, and most of all, realize that you are not alone in your riding struggles.
I am a typical adult amateur rider trying to not mess up my horse. I decided to write this journal to see just how typical I am. So, let me start by introducing myself and my horse. I am 40 years old. I’m married to a great husband and have no children. I work full time, but I am lucky that I work from home 4 days a week, which allows me a very flexible schedule.
In addition to my horse, I have a darling 12-year-old pit bull girl, and a very annoying 13-year-old male cat. The cat rules the house. The dog is my shadow, and that is just the way I like it. However, she is not good around the horses, so she stays home when I go to the barn.
I have absolutely no talent for riding. None. Nada. I have mild/moderate scoliosis, meaning I’m a little crooked, and I’m not the strongest person at 5’6” and 115 lbs, but I’m working on it. I also have fear issues from my time at college when I was over-horsed (over and over again). I fully subscribe to the motto “discretion is the better part of valor.” My one redeeming attribute is that I try very hard. I make it a point to get to the barn (weather and work schedule permitting) at least 4 days a week, of which 2 to 3 of those days involve having a lesson.
Although you may think working from home would allow me to spend all day at the barn, it doesn’t because deadlines have to be met and conference calls attended, plus time must be spent with the husband and the dog. So riding more than one horse or hanging out watching other lessons is just not possible. Someone once told me that to ride one horse well you need to ride two, and to ride two horses well, you need to ride three, etc. I don’t have that luxury.
Where I board is anything but fancy. It is owned and managed by my instructor, Barbara, and her daughter, Bridget, who is my trainer. The only crossties are outside. There is no running hot water. There is one small outdoor sand ring, and a larger river-sand ring that has a significant slope to it and in the summer has jumps set up. We have no indoor yet, but that is coming. Besides the excellent instruction, the horses are well taken care of with plenty of turn-out, and if I need to go away for business I don’t have to worry that my horse isn’t getting fed or has a cut that no one notices. Barbara does not ride much anymore, but she is a phenomenal instructor – very correct in the basics, knows how to push without scaring me, and is very encouraging. Bridget has a gift with horses and she is a very strong rider.
And now about my horse… His name is PJ, and he is a coming 6-year-old Georgian Grande. I bought him last March. I really needed a well-trained horse but I fell in love. I’m a sucker for big, black horses, and I had always wanted a Friesian cross. Everyone thought I was crazy to buy him. He was green and what little training he had was from front-to-back. But I had done a lot of research about his bloodlines and I knew he was the one for me. We’ve come a long way in the time I’ve had him. He now works from back to front, he’s grown a little, and we even made it to two shows last year. He has a fabulous mind, and he’s just a lot of fun to be around, as well as ride. I am trying to do the majority of the riding myself, which has caused our progression to be way slower than it could have been, but isn’t it all about the journey anyway?