Remember when the SAT had that amazing analogies section that confused the fuck out of 96% of people, and the last 4% were major over achievers or just faking their understanding? Yeah, those were awesome. I finally understand how to do them, now. Thirteen years too late.
We hear a lot of analogies in training; jumping is just dressage with obstacles, right? (Or, as I like to call it “dressage with shit in the way”). And I’m going to try to push my own analogy for the forseeable future. And please, chime in with your opinions on this because I am pretty sure I just made this up and it could be completely, completely invalid.
Showing: just schooling with field trips.
Part of this is a coping mechanism. Murray and I aren’t anywhere near as “ready” for Twin as I hoped to be (though every ride we have as the show gets closer promises to prove me wrong), and if there’s anything I hate it’s being underprepared. But my goal is to get him out and showing this year, and so even if we aren’t going out there totally prepared to finish on our dressage score or ready to take home all the prize moneyz, this will still be a valuable experience for us. Every show that we get through without Murray being a) eaten by a pony-eating jump, b) murdered by his owner, or c) disqualified is another check mark in the “see, shows aren’t that bad Murray!” column. And that’s what I want.
And really, should an impending show change the way I’m schooling and riding? I’m trying to create a well-rounded and correct horse, not learn tricks to pick up points on a dressage test. Sponging my hands or wiggling my ring finger or whatever other nonsense I could come up with to get Murray to look like he’s in a frame for a dressage test aren’t going to be long term solutions that teach him how to come on the bit and use his body better. Sure, there are movements that need a little more practice and transitions that can be polished, but ideally, I’d be working those transitions in at home as well. But those aren’t big things that I need be “preparing” for.
So for the rest of the year, I’m going to treat all of my upcoming shows as schooling field trips. Or try to, at least. Schooling field trips that I’ll get feedback from strangers on! And where my tack is really clean and my breeches really white.
The goal is not to change my riding or training or stress out about the fact that shows mean things to people who like to win (I am also one of these people, so I’m trying to be less of one of these people). Shows are just schooling away from home or schooling after a trailer ride. We’ll see if this mentality works on Murray!