Kasane and I have our first dressage show in two weeks at a local venue. We’ve ridden dressage tests before at schooling shows sponsored by our local awesome horse club. This is a schooling show that will not be a test where you know everyone. This is a Show Experience.
I used to show a lot when I was younger. We did Arabian breed shows with most of our horses, primarily halter classes since most of the horses we had were younger or breeding stock. I had fun and I’m thankful for the experience of learning how to gracefully handle competition.
All I really wanted to do was ride. Halter was nice but it was too much like work to get the horses cleaned and primped before their classes. There wasn’t a sense of joy of a good partnership (at least not for me) when showing in halter. It was work.
Riding was work too, but at least it could be fun. We could enter the trail class, a traditionally Western class, while wearing English attire. My mare and I did barrel racing in a hunt seat saddle. We didn’t expect to win: we entered to have fun. Prize loved those classes and she taught me to love them as well.
I still get nervous whenever I think about showing. Slight hand tremor. Edginess. Except I know that Kasane can do these things and do them well. We’ve ridden the walk-trot test Intro B for years. We could do that in our sleep.
Which is why I chose to ride the Intro C test and throw some canter into the mix because why not? We can canter. We need a goal to force us to work towards something greater. A few strides of canter around a circle and then shifting back down to the walk isn’t that hard.
The trick is that we haven’t done much canter work at all in years. I had to learn to deal with a lot of my own fears and issues around cantering (and having a horse land on me a few times at a canter) before I could canter with Kasane without giving her mixed signals. She’ll canter when I ask, but we’re stiff and out of whack. We aren’t smooth and practiced like we are with a trot. We just need to work on it. What better motivation than a deadline and a show?
I know the test now. I dream about it almost every nice. I can feel how Kasane moves when she canters when I visualize it. I dream about where my body position needs to be when I ask her to pick up the canter and when we transition back to the working trot. I know we can do this.
During my lesson on Saturday, my instructor asked me if I was sure I really wanted to do the test. Honestly, our canter work during the test was pretty gross. But it got better during the lesson. We made progress.
That’s the whole point of riding: to make progress in riding and understanding how you and your horse work as a team, to love your horse, and to have fun.