Today's advice was from Heather Blitz. Another deceptively simple yet very true nugget of wisdom.
"Ride the same no matter what your show schedule is."
While I have no idea when my next show will be, let alone my next 'real' dressage show, I have to be hypervigilant to keep pushing myself and my horses to progress (hey, third level isn't just handed out on a silver platter). It's easy to say "Oh, I have three months, why not just take it easy, not push the envelope and ride well within my comfort zone". It's easier to stay in that comfort zone (the dreaded plateau!), so why not?
I had a trainer who used to say that dressage is for the crazy or neurotic. Who else would go out in hot/cold/sun/rain/wind and continually keep asking for the best that they and their horse can produce on that day?
9 out of 10 riders might say "see that leg yield? It went sideways, right? Done."
The dressage rider should say "We got sideways and forward, now we need more suspension (connection, sitting, push from behind, etc, etc, etc)" and move on to fill the holes in the ride.
And are there ever holes in my rides.
Now that I have today's advice, I can think about how much my rides change based on the atmosphere of the barn and arena. Take yesterday, for instance. I only worked Tilly at the walk and trot when her canter is really her weakest link. I can rationalize by saying that first we need to work on strengthening before getting in to transitions, but honestly, I just didn't want to work on the harder stuff in front of a crowd.
As for RC, I feel like I've been pushing to maintain but not pushing to progress. I mean, we could probably lay down a beautiful first level test, while a second level test would be beyond what I would be willing to show (hey, I want those high scores). He hasn't lost anything with my knee injury and the move in the last year, but he also hasn't progressed.
Delight is my problem child. Her training progression looks like a little bit of a sine curve. Wonderful and obedient, than the whoastorm, then obedient, then the hissy fits... Now we're starting to crawl back up to a showable horse. For her, my biggest problem is not pushing her far enough. I tend to treat her with kid gloves, but if I'm honest with myself, I wont 'ruin' her by asking for more.
Hindsight is 20/20, and all of that....
Now I just have to suck it up to go riding this evening. It's in the mid teens and has been snowing for the past 24 hours... It's only going to get colder. I would say that maybe I'll give them a day off tomorrow, but with yesterday's advice fresh in mind... Move it!