Alli over at Pony’tude made my day when she opened up her Equitation Evolution blog hop. I am kind of a sucker for progression posts. Ever look at pictures of you riding and thought you may as well withdraw from the next show and spend the rest of your life herding cows bareback where nobody can see? Well, it helps to look back and realise that as badly as you suck now, there was just so much more that sucked then. (Hopefully).
Unfortunately right now I only have photos from 2012 onwards (you should see the 2010 ones. gosh.) but there’s still a difference…
Probably the second time Magic ever saw a jump, before I even started leasing him. This must have been early 2012.
August 2013. Poor old Magic. Look how grumpy his little face is. Who can blame him? At least I’m still on top.
August 2015. For me the most remarkable difference is just in the way Magic is jumping. His knees, always good, are now at an unnecessary level of awesome. He’s also able to actually use his back, instead of just leaping awkwardly. And he looks happy and secure. 90% of this is simply because I’m releasing, not as much as I want to, and not quite as much as Magic needs, but already vastly better. Most interesting is that he looks more relaxed here than in the other pictures, but this is at a show and the others were taken in his home arena.
August 2013. Even stoic little Arwen looks pretty annoyed with my hanging onto her mouth. She’s also jumping with a flat back, but gamely tucking her knees up to make up for it.
August 2014. My first time jumping anything bigger than 50cm in the K&M and it’s showing. Already I’m giving her some more space with my hands, but my lower leg is on a mission of its own; as a result I’m balancing on my hands.
My favourite photo yet when it comes my jumping position. Arwen’s getting plenty of room from my hands, but I’m not all the way up her neck. While I am a bit too far forward, I’m also balanced; my weight is in my lower leg (which is behaving itself for a change) and not on my hands. As a result Arwen is pretending to be a little warmblood and making a bascule.
May 2013. Yeah… moving on…
May 2014, winning our first dressage show. We look better, but my toe and my eyes and my hands and my shoulders… And Arwen is quite far on her front end and quite heavy in the contact.
June 2015. Not Arwen, but a far younger and less experienced horse also doing her first Prelim test. Much of the niceness here can be attributed to Nell simply being fairly amazing, but I’m at least looking up, my legs are kind of behaving and, while my arms look awkward here, it’s actually a good thing; I’m at the top of my rise and my arms are straight, keeping my hands low and still.
Ultimately it goes to show that we should all just keep on swimming and take the little steps forward, because they do add up. Nobody is going to wake up one day and be able to ride. If I can improve my release by half an inch once a week, then in a year I can go from having no release at all to having a good one.
And we are all still learning, and will keep on learning for as long as we can find someone to heave our ageing bones into the saddle. Glory to the King.