That is the dreaded question that Ms. C likes to ask me during my weekly lesson. “That” could be a transition, a circle, a halt, a centerline. Well, just about anything during the lesson. This is when I most appreciate that it is a private lesson with no one watching or listening. The Socratic Method of Teaching is well-known to law school students and many of my graduate school professors also enjoyed putting you on the spot by firing questions at you. It must also be recommended in the secret handbook of dressage trainers. In grad school, it is amazing how they would always manage to call on me when I’d either not done the required reading or spent most of the lecture doodling in my notebook and not paying attention. That bright crimson flush would overcome my face as I stammered through a pathetic answer. These days, I don’t flush, but I still muddle through when asked what I could have done to better my ride.
Class participation almost always played a role in my final grade, and here I am, almost 20 years later, still having to participate to improve my grade. Only now, my grade is a score from a stern looking judge sitting at C. If my dressage scores were graded on the same scale as my engineering courses, I would still be in school attempting to bring my grades up enough to graduate. Mid-60’s would not cut it. In my current world, mid-60’s are the norm. My how times have changed.
But back to the question at hand, “How could you have made that better?” My go-to answer is “a half halt.” Safe enough, but the follow-up question of, “And, what else??” or “What was wrong with that half halt?” is usually where I get tripped up and the stammering starts. Lucky for me, Ms. C will patiently explain what the “else” is when it is evident that am clueless. Typically, I forget to include enough leg with my half halt. I also have the tendency to pull rather than squeeze my reins during a half halt which puts Ike behind vertical. And if you have followed our adventures for a while, you know that I tend to overuse my inside rein and overbend Ike’s neck rather than just achieving the proper flexion at the poll. These problems were clearly evident in the photos from the show. If you are so inclined and need a good chuckle or a good example of what not to do, here is the link: http://www.picsofyou.com/store/index.php?do=photocart&viewGallery=20459#page=1.
On a positive note, I can now identify what the problem is when I see the photos. Now I just need to translate and transmit that knowledge to my arms and legs while astride. There is a disconnect or maybe it is a lack of……SQUIRREL………..focus. [My dogs tend to have great focus during training until one of our furry-tailed friends cross our path; then all bets are off.] Whatever the problem is, it is keeping us from crossing that magical 70% threshold in our scores. Luckily, there is no pending graduation, just a passion to indulge and a dream to fulfill.