Pictures that changed your life
|May 3, 2014||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
Edit – gosh darn it! I meant to schedule this post for tomorrow morning and instead I published it immediately. Ah well. No going back now or all you folks that read it in feedly will read it, come here to comment and wonder where it went!
Being a visual person, I find pictures to be very powerful. Today I’m curious whether a picture ever marked a significant change in your life, or guided a major decision?
This photo, of Farley and I trotting down hill at our first attempt at Tevis in 2009 was a significant turning point in our endurance career.
(BTW since we’ve been talking about colors, here’s before Farley had orange gear. You can see I’m mostly red both as my barn color and left overs from Minx. I added a yellow halter and was going to go red+yellow for Farley. I don’t like it here as much as I do “in theory” so I think I will have to order color tests and actually put them on the horse and see!)
I never had the opportunity to take riding lessons. By the time I started endurance I could stick to the back of a horse really well (that’s what happens when you have Standardbreds to ride and no saddle), and figured I had done the equivalent of riding lessons through the “school of hard knocks”. After all, if you can stay on, and the horse is happy – what else is there? My philosophy for riding was to interfere as little as possible with the horse doing their job – figuring they knew how to do it better than I did.
Right after I joined AERC I saw a beautiful cover of a rider and horse pair. To this day I can picture the cover perfectly in my mind. A young women about my age in perfect harmony with her yellow biothane tacked horse, picking their way down a technical downhill section of trail. There was just *something* there. I turned to the inside cover and read that this pair did dressage when they weren’t doing endurance.
After spending more time than I care to admit going through images of EN covers, I FOUND THE COVER. (It’s here) (….and I yes I know it isn’t a “classically correct” picture like what you would see on good flat footing, but can you feel that connection? And how the rider is supporting the horse? And vice versa?) EDIT: upon further reflection and reading the blurb about the photo it isn’t the same one I was thinking about? Dunno. Whatever. That’s not the POINT. 🙂
Dressage. In that instant I completely did a 180 turn on my opinion of dressage. I knew immediately this was the missing piece and I was going to need outside help to get it.
But I was busy. Busy conditioning my first endurance horse, and fixing her demons, and being BFF’s with the Bad Idea Fairy (E101). So, before I knew it, it was 3 or 4 years later and I was attempting my first 100, without being any closer to dressage than that magazine cover.
There were a lot of reasons that I didn’t finish Tevis that year, but when I picked up that photo the day afterwards, I knew what one of the GLARING problems was. Trotting downhill accents EVERYTHING and it wasn’t just me, it was Farley too. We needed help. Me staying on and staying out of her way combined with her natural way of traveling wasn’t going to bring us success as a 100 mile team. We did NOT look like the yellow biothane cover pair. I bought the picture, framed it, and put it on the wall of my office and found a local dressage trainer the next week.
And that was one of the best decisions of my life.
Upon further thinking I don’t think that cover is the one…..It’s close, but I remember that the cover image was NOT from the west region.
So. Maybe that is the cover and maybe it isn’t.
Yep…I’ve got some NATRC photos that will probably never see the light of day if I have anything to say about it, since my pony is being a $#!% and my position is horrible. But it was ride photos that really highlighted the importance of saddle fit for rider and the affect on rider position.
I realized how important dressage was only after I stopped doing it for 18 months. My horse’s back muscles actually started atrophying even though we were doing a lot of trail miles and I felt like some of our connection went missing. My position went to hell and I just flat out started to miss the discipline of dressage work. So I found a new trainer that understood using dressage as a cross-training tool instead of the end itself, and now I’m just working on finding that elusive mix of trail work and arena schooling. I think you may have posted before about how much dressage you do, but please remind me because I can’t remember which post it was:)
I shoot for 1x week because that is realistic for me. 2x a week would probably be better. The important thing is that dressage sessions should be short – probably 30 min or less. So just doing some dressage on the trail rides isn’t going to work. It has to do with the endurance versus strength/muscle building pathways and how muscle building is down regulated in the presence of endurance type activities. So you need to break out your “build muscle” stuff from your longer stuff.
This is great. Really insightful. I also like your point above about doing dressage for 30 minute sessions max. That’s all I feel Q and I can handle right now and its good to know that another successful endurance rider doesn’t go above that limit. We’ve done 15-20 minutes most times because I feel like Q is mentally and physically whooped after that. And my abs are usually protesting a bit!
Do you do exercises at the walk, trot, canter, or all of the gaits?
Even when I was doing dressage competitively my trainer made a big deal of getting in and getting it done. Fifteen or twenty min if you could make it happen in that time frame, thirty if you couldnt. I mostly do walk trot dressage because that’s the easiest for me to do bareback which is how I like doing my dressage….however walk and canter I do too. And some days I really focus on the walk. And someone days I focus on transitions etc, Rarely do I work all three gaits at a time or “everything”. I pick the priority of the day and then I quit. Farley really resents being drilled once she’s gotten it right. I’m not sure at what point you get diminishing returns of muscle building because of the decrease of the mTOR pathway, but I’m sure it’s somewhere under the thirty min mark. I really should get that post up on th at concept!