In which we get goofily serious.
My brain on dressage:
I get it. Theoretically.
One of the most encouraging things an instructor ever said to me (when I asked for homework) was “Do it badly”. I think dressage is complicated, which, in turn, makes it…complicated.
Her words came back to me yesterday. If I strike the three times I just got on and walked around, I haven’t ridden in nearly 6 weeks. I mounted with some relief, knowing I was likely to ride badly. No lofty goal. Ride, stay centered, enjoy.
Best dressage ride I’ve had in a loooong time.
Hudson was full of himself: it’s cool, and he’s been tuned up by Alice and Bella. He was convinced he could ease into the canter from a big collected trot without my noticing. This made me laugh, so I let him. Amazing dressage canter: enormous energy, impulsion to the moon, not speedy. He stretched up about a foot, and compacted his entire length while lifting his back. He thought he might be getting away with something, so tried to keep himself nonchalant, when really he wanted to tear up some footing. Huge energy, huge control, huge self-carriage. I turned my brain off, and danced. We connected with that electrical ping.
Suddenly, I got it. He was having FUN. I thought he hated dressage. There may be parts he dislikes, but now I think what he hated was my eternal thinking about dressage (and trying to do it right), instead of feeling the ride we were in. I had not been having fun, so why would he?
It wasn’t a perfect ride technically, by any stretch, but we had a blast doing it imperfectly: enjoying each other’s presence. I rewarded us both by letting him go, letting him leave blistering tracks in the footing. In turn, he graced me with a gynormous ground-eating trot. It felt like a “thank you”.
I thought I’d been showing up, and I had been: in my head. My body was on autopilot. Hudson can only show up right here, right now, in our shared physical world. Much to his surprise, I was fully present.
Today’s assignment: ride badly, to the best of my ability.