Dressage pointers and horseback a-ha moments

Today’s Guest Post is from Jennifer Walker, author of Bubba Goes National and the other Riders of Green Meadow books. This post is part of her blog tour for her new release, Bubba to the Rescue. 

Bubba to the Rescue book tour

Bubba to the Rescue

Haven’t I Told You That?

The thing about riding horses, and I think this is particularly true when it comes to dressage, is that there are approximately a  half a million things a rider has to master and think about at any one time while riding. Every part of your body is doing something different, and every part of your horse’s body is doing something different, and somehow you’re supposed to coordinate it all and ride circles and shoulder-ins and flying changes and the like all at the same time. Oh, and don’t forget the half halts!

Dressage horse, umbrella, rain

Dressage spectator, from Flickr of Douglas J O'Brien

The point is, there’s a lot to learn and remember. The frustrating thing is that no matter how many times my trainer tells me something, like to shorten my reins and move my hands forward, I just keep slipping back into my bad habits. Next thing you know, my hands are attached to my stomach and my horse is curled up behind the bit. Why do I do that?

The funny part about this is that if I take a lesson from someone else or get a critique on a photo or video, someone will tell me the exact same thing and suddenly it will click. I’ll go back and tell my trainer, “So and so told me to shorten my reins and move my hands forward!” and she’ll say, “Haven’t I told you that?”

I’m helping out a young rider at my boarding stable, letting her ride my horse and giving her some pointers. I’ll tell her things like opening the outside rein and pushing the horse over to the wall with her inside leg, and she’ll say, “Oh! OK!” like it’s a new thing. Then her mom pipes up with, “Haven’t I told you that?”

I guess it’s a pretty universal thing. I’ve done a lot of teaching in different venues on different topics, and it never fails. Either someone tells me that they’d heard such-and-such before and never understood it until I explained it, or I explain something in as many different ways as I can and they still don’t get it, but go to someone else and it clicks right away. What can you do?

It just goes to show you, learning any skill isn’t easy, especially if you want to rise to the highest levels. Whether it’s because different teachers have different explanations for the same topics, or because you just need a concept drilled into your head over and over and over and over again before it finally sinks in, you never stop learning…and you’d be surprised how much you can learn from just about anyone.

Jennifer Walker

Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer, editor, and novelist living in Northern California. 

Her two books, Bubba Goes National and Bubba to the Rescue, are both available in print or digital editions from www.twintrinitybooks.com and other online retailers. Bubba Goes National was reviewed at this site for Sunday Book Reviews: Read the review!

Find out more about Jennifer and her work at www.authorjennwalker.com.


Bubba to the Rescue: 

Bubba to the Rescue at Amazon



Filed under Dressage

4 responses to “Dressage pointers and horseback a-ha moments

  1. This resonates so strongly with me because I’ve recently switched instructors and barns, and it’s like the whole thing is new.
    Like you, I get the same critiques. I’ve been told I ride *like a jockey* by both.
    What’s different is that my new trainer has a way of articulating what I should be doing, very, very clearly. To me, this is key. Even if trainers are all saying the same thing, when one has the gift of being able to convey, precisely, what you should be doing, it’s eye opening!

  2. I have had the same experience on both sides of the coin–teaching and being taught–but most recently as the student. Oh, and definitely as a parent!

    The last instruction I had (at a clinic), however, brought everything down to some key, simple basic things that work and allow us to move to the next step. Each thing builds on the thing before and going backwards merely reinforces what you’re working towards.

    Rather than picking at me for slumping to one side or rolling forward, I got one simple thing to think about — “The rest will fall into place,” she said. And it did.

    Great post, Jennifer! I’m also in Northern CA. Maybe you can help me convince Natalie to visit one of these days.

  3. Yeah, I get that. With my son, it’s the same – sometimes it’s not what’s being taught but how it’s being taught, and sometimes where you are when you’re being taught. Like, you get more knowledge and that makes the knowledge feel different to you. Anyway, great write-up!

    And to the commenters, don’t forget to check out Jennifer’s books. They are really great horsey books for middle-grade, young adult and adult readers alike. I loved them!

    Love and stuff,

  4. Thank you for the comments! I had hoped my post would resonate with a reader or two. 🙂