The 2016 Region 9 Dressage Championships are complete. Winterfair and I ended up 3rd in 3 out of 4 classes. There have been times in my life that I liked the color yellow. This past week yellow was once again my favorite color.
How can that be? The best color at shows is obviously blue: first place is always best. Well I would have loved to win all three of my classes. But, at this show there were 2 other riders and horse combinations that were judged to be better for those 5 minutes than Winterfair and I.
We have all heard that in dressage we are competing against ourselves. I’ve said it myself. I don’t know that I’ve ever really lived that statement like I did at this show. 2016 has been a difficult year for myself and Winterfair; much more so than 2015.
I spent the last 18 months or so perfecting my flying changes. I said ‘my’ flying changes deliberately. I rode a wonderful schoolmaster; Nicolai. He taught me about flying changes. Winterfair was my guinea pig. She is the first horse I’ve tried to teach changes to. What a big responsibility. So, I consistently had a change from left to right. Unfortunately, the change from right to left was almost as consistently late. If I had thought, it was a Winterfair problem I would have probably been crazy upset about it. However, I knew it was a rider problem. How could I be sure? Easy, Hans Biss told me that it made no sense that I was getting the harder change and not the easy one.
I’ve struggled all year for the straightness to conquer the changes. I’ve needed more sitting and uphill balance. I’ve needed more expression and cadence. I needed to quit pushing the middle of my back away from my seat. So many tweaks to try and package both myself and my horse. The best part of this year is finding out what I already knew but now really ‘know’. I have a horse that tries her heart out for me day in and day out. It is like she says: “mom, you can get this and then I can”.
So at this show 3rd place was everything I could have wanted. The best part was that I was actually able to smile throughout my 4th Level Freestyle. Each time I left the ring I wasn’t thinking about everything I could have done to make the ride better. I was thinking if I needed more I don’t have it. Those 3 tests were the best I could do at that moment in time.
Will I get better? I will but, I will be forever grateful for those yellow ribbons.