Your eyes are not deceiving you, I wholeheartedly promise… It’s been over a year since I sat down to type my last blog post, and frankly, that’s just unacceptable! I forgot how much I missed writing, especially with a growing Instagram account and messages/questions/comments coming through on the daily.
Over 10,000 of you are following my journey with Leah now – holy cow??!! It’s about dang time I pulled my computer into my lap and wrote more frequently. Life has taken a few turns over the course of the last 365 days, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the happiest I’ve ever been in this moment.
A handful of you replied to my recent story with post ideas, and I promise they will be discussed on the blog. For the first entry in quite sometime, I thought I’d fill you in on what’s been happening lately.
I’ll try to stick to the key points…
My last blog was April 2017, and SO much has evolved since that time. Obviously, the high points: we earned our USDF Silver Medal, we debuted Intermediate I, we won our first regional championship and earned an invitation to 2017 US Dressage Finals (which we had to decline due to substantial hurricane Harvey damage on our home), we competed in our first CDI, we qualified for 2018 regional championships back in February, earning scores in both the Intermediate I and I-I Freestyle, and the blog got some publicity in a recent USDF Connection Magazine.
That’s all awesome, but sometimes it’s too easy to sit here and point out all the highlights of my riding career when in reality, only those closest to you recognize the countless hours of training that went into earning all of that jazz.
Last year’s show season was a total high, and the most accomplished in my entire riding life. This year has been the opposite. I feel as if I started out really strong in February, but since then, it’s been a real reality check. The final straw was our performance during the CDI competition in April. I rode terribly, and it was evident in our scores. Frustrated and fed up, I told myself to get my stuff (I’d use the other word but that would just be crude) together; coasting by over the course of the spring was no longer cutting it, especially with my goal of making it back to US Dressage Finals come November.
Two days after we got home from the CDI, I put my big girl breeches back on and hit the training hard. I mean, really hard. We stopped all practice of competition movements and focused on the true basics. I temporarily retired the double bridle, riding strictly in the snaffle. I forgot how important the outside rein was to all successes; the snaffle reminded me. We worked 5 to 6 days a week – my goal being to keep Leah round and truly through her back, respecting my outside rein and leg. I lost count with how many transitions within the gaits we rode, and I think we just now understand the concept of bending left.
My training became less about the Intermediate I movements and more about understanding the biomechanics of how to ask for them. Riding the tricks is easy, but all too often I witness riders who don’t fully comprehend the correct way to execute them… They just want the end result. This was the turning point in my riding that I had been anticipating. For the first time in my five years with Leah, I had tapped into her true potential, riding every single damn stride and using every single damn muscle in my body to make it happen.
The thing I love most about Leah? If you don’t ask her correctly, home-girl is not going to give you anything. You have to own every step, which only makes our achievements way more rewarding.
So, with a new freestyle in tow and a new foundation set in the saddle, we loaded up and headed off to our first show of the summer just last weekend. Showing at Haras Dos Cavaleiros is such a treat. The facility is breathtaking; world-class arenas and footing, incredibly friendly staff, good stalling, a restaurant, hotel, and spa all onsite. The best part of the place, though? Definitely the ringside bar and their top-shelf margaritas… No shame in my game.
Competitions for me are no longer about placing (unless regionals, of course), so I went into the weekend with score improvement as the top priority. As I mentioned in my Instagram post, I didn’t feel as if our freestyle score was fair, but you are paying for someone’s opinion in this sport. Sunday, the I-I felt amazing and our score was reflective of just that.
What a concept, huh? Actually riding in the show ring and not just being a passenger? I wish I could say that I didn’t have this problem, but I do… I’d like to think a lot of riders share this similarity. However, this past weekend was my first step into breaking that habit. Now, the goal is to keep that mojo flowing as we look ahead to our exciting fall season. We also have the opportunity to clinic with Allison Brock – Rio Olympic Bronze Medalist – this coming weekend! Expect a full recap of that on the blog come next week.
You might’ve noticed the innuendo tucked into the title of this particular blog post. Not only am I roped back into blogging, but also ever since January; I’ve been roped into a whole new world. Sharing your life with someone who holds the same appreciation for your passion is probably the coolest thing. Like, words can’t even describe it. I might not fully understand team roping, just like I’m sure Barrett doesn’t fully understand dressage (I’m not sure I even fully understand dressage TBH), but the fact that we can come together over horses makes my heart so warm. Dressage meets team roping, and I’m in love with every aspect of our lives together.
Having said all of this, I promise I will not let an extended amount of time pass without blogging. I love connecting with my followers, which was the original premise of which I built the blog around. It’s too much of an importance for me to let it go to waste.
I solemnly swear I won’t let it happen again…!