Today I went out feeling really great, excited to see my horse, but from the minute I got on we just didn’t feel right.
As dressage riders, it is very normal to have both good days and bad days, and while the good days are a big boost, the bad days teach us a lot more about ourselves and our horses.
There are two major pitfalls that riders can fall into on these bad days, and both are equally detrimental to your training goals.
First is to go into self-destruction, we’ve all been there, leaving the horses feeling like we are useless, we can’t ride, our horse doesn’t deserve having to put up with us, etc.
The second is blaming the horse, deciding the bad day is his fault, and trying to “ride him through it”, by banging and crashing about in the hopes of getting back what we had on that good ride yesterday.
If you get out of bed everyday feeling like sunshine and rainbows then that is super, but for most of us there are days when we just feel less than great.
It is important to be able to put aside our emotions when we go to the horses, but it’s also important to remember that they too are animals, that might not always be everyday at their peak.
On those days, the bad days, the days where you just know you are both not feeling at your best, the two dilemmas above will not help you.
The best thing to do is to relax the work, decide that today it’s better to focus on something simple. Take the opportunity to walk and just focus on your left hand that creeps back, or your right leg that is a bit tight.
Breathe, go on a walk out, or simple canter in two point position and let your horse just feel himself moving freely underneath you.
It is not a straight line on the road to success, and if you can ride through the dips and craters, then you be that much more ready to appreciate the highs..