How often have you gone through the motions of your ride, kind of touching on things you really need to work on, but only settling for a ‘7 out of 10’? Sometimes, it feels like that’s enough. I really stressed to one of my clients recently that she needs to demand that little bit extra with her horse, especially when it comes to the basics.
“Practice does not make perfection. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”
There’s no reason you can’t demand a 10/10 trot-walk transition every time (on any horse that’s more than just green-broke), and every reason that you should. Those basics are essentially daily discipline, so that when you do start working on more complex things—whether it’s adjustability within a line of jumps or the beginning of the canter pirouette—your horse is consistently on the aids and ready to do what you ask when you ask it.
I find myself sometimes letting things slide, especially if it’s been a long day or I’m not really feeling 100%, but then I find I have the consequences to deal with the next day or the day after that. The transitions start to get a little less obedient, a little more sloppy, a little less on the hind leg, etc. etc. Then, before you know it, your horse is just driving the forehand down into the halt instead of lifting into it, or you start to lose adjustability in the canter, or a whole host of other issues that seemed like not such a big deal the day or the week before.
I think sometimes we all forget that we can demand a little more from our horses when it comes to the little things and that, in fact, we should! Then, whether you’re trotting down centerline at a dressage show or cantering to the first jump of your course at a H/J show, you’re going to be able to get things done much more easily because the baseline discipline and rideability will be there. It makes the difference between a 6.5 halt or transition in your dressage test and a 8.0, and it can make the difference between a clear round or a round with a rail or time faults in the jumper ring. Of course, there are no guarantees ever, but practicing small pieces of perfection in our daily rides can really help us and our horses out a lot!
What things do you sometimes let slide in your daily rides? Do you think you can start committing yourself to “practicing perfection” in some of your basic work? Tell us in the comments section!
About the Author
Kate Severson is a young professional working at a training and sales barn in Texas. She currently shows some young dressage horses as well as jumper sales horses, and her blog Working Equestrian is her way of providing in-depth insight into what it’s really like to work in the horse industry.