My Horse is Whispering Too

Marcos 2d WebBy Erika N. Chen-Walsh

Marcos and I embarked on a new leg of our journey recently with our first trip down the center line at Second Level.  And while we are struggling to become proficient at the components of Second Level, I am amazed that in his first show season, we have progressed from Training Level to here in three months under the expert tutelage of Yvonne Barteau.

Learning to ride is a complicated task when you consider all of the variables. You must understand the concept of what you are learning and you must also learn to know what success is.  Concepts like “connection” and “engagement” and “working over the topline” are used liberally by riders, but achieving each of those necessary elements is an exquisitely nuanced dance which neither we nor our horses are born knowing.  Weanlings in the pasture do not say to one another, “Let’s work on engaging our hindquarters more so that we can build the strength to do really great piaffe one day.”

The concepts that we strive to achieve in dressage are earned in a thousand tiny increments, a thousand tiny moments of clear understanding between horse and rider, that we eventually tie together to execute a shoulder in, a half pass, a piaffe, a Grand Prix test.

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