Rider's Blog

Sometimes Looking Back is Exactly What We Need to Do

Sometimes Looking Back is Exactly What We Need to Do

 

So most successful people will tell you “when you want something in life you need to set your sights on it, really visualize your goal and make every step you take in the direction of that goal.”  That is absolutely 100% true, however with the sport of Dressage it is also important to stop occasionally and look back.  What the show season of 2017 has taught me among the obvious things such as “listen to your reader – it is really embarrassing to go off course when you have a test readerJand another good one is “the white dressage surrounds are there for a reason and you are supposed to ride within themJAll fun aside and most importantly I have learned that it is necessary to stop and look back at how far you have come.  It is so easy in Dressage to get caught up in thinking FORWARD.  After all, we are always striving to ride forward – ride forward into the connection, ride forward into the transition.  It is natural to always be thinking “what do I need to accomplish to get to the next level?”  Instead of accomplishing one movement and moving on to the next I think everyone should stop and think back to the first show of the season and be so proud of themselves for where they are now.

 

Since my lesson with Cesar Torrente, Ferro and I have attended 6 shows, performed 14 tests, including the wonderful Capital City Classic Show and ridden with Karen Pavicic.  We have had high marks, we have had low marks, we have had much praise from the judges and clinicians and definitely lots of homework to work on.  We even managed to get to a show, warm-up and perform our tests without a reader!!  I feel like I can now keep my hands quiet, keep my lower leg even quieter, stay tall in my body and deep in my seat during transitions (which was a tough one with my jumper backgroundJ)  All in all a very successful season  making wonderful memories with my best friend.

 

Many of you may not know the struggles Ferro has had over the years.  There has, for some time now, seemed to be some niggling discomfort in his body that we could not treat.  Recently, Dr. Parsons from Langley performed a neurological test on him and told me that he has some component of neurological disease.  I have made the difficult decision to lay Ferro up for a year.  Give his body a chance to rest and bring him back to work only when his body is right and he tells me he is not in any discomfort.  Ferro is one of the kindest horses I have ever met and I want every chance for him to feel good in his body.   Like everyone reading this blog, we all have special connections with our equine partners, situations or circumstances in our lives that give us that special bond, draw us a little closer and as those experiences add up day after day you find yourself looking at your equine partner thinking – he trusts me, he knows me better than I know myself, there is mutual respect between us.  Once the relationship gets to that level I feel the only right decisions are the ones that put our special equine partners first.  So, although I started this blog to bring together our wonderful horse community through Ferro’s and my travels I will now continue to blog to you all about Ferro’s journey resting and hopefully recovering.  I plan to continue improving my dressage skills with a new equine partner and I know when the right one comes along you will all be the first to know!

Now get out there and enjoy the last show of the season next weekend!!  Don’t forget to look back if only to remind yourself how far you’ve come.  Give your horse a big pat and a lot of treats for all the hard work you both have accomplished and look forward to the next level with a big smile on your face!!

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A Lesson with Cesar Torrente

A Lesson with Cesar Torrente

Cesar Torrente is an FEI 4* judge, Grand Prix rider and Corporate Lawyer by profession.  Laura Hall of LH Equestrian Management did an incredible job organizing an Educate Your Eye Symposium with this gentleman.

Cesar very quickly and accurately assessed my horse and I – we were going to be riding First Level Test 2.  From the beginning of my session, I felt a warmth and generosity from Cesar – he really wanted to help me become a better rider and I knew I was going to leave that lesson a more educated dressage rider.  I felt privileged to be learning from an international judge and competitor.  The theme of my ride revolved around impulsion and engagement of the hindquarters.  Ferro’s natural tendency is to be on the forehand, he has this incredible long neck and beautiful head that I tend to help him hold up.  Cesar had me ask Ferro for more impulsion but at the same time I had to lighten my hands forward – all this right from the beginning of my ride.  I needed to use more leg and seat and less hand. Tap him, Tap him, Tap him Cesar repeated.  Then came all the transitions – trot – walk – trot – walk – trot – walk!  As I trotted around the beautiful Fairlawn Equestrian Centre indoor ring I felt moments where I knew I had achieved what Cesar was looking for – my hands got light, I felt more suspension in Ferro’s trot and for that brief moment I felt like I could do anything J and then Cesar said with his lovely Columbian accent “OK – let’s look at the canter” I thought “EEEK!”  I now had Ferro going with what felt like more vigor and enthusiasm in his trot then I was used to.  I wondered to myself how he would react when I asked for that same response in the canter.  Would he take it as an invitation to play and perhaps leave me lying in Fairlawn’s lovely soft footing? J Would I live to write this blog that I had offered to do for Victoria-Saanich Cadora?  As I asked for the canter Cesar was already asking me to ask for more.  The same drill at the canter, more transitions – trot – canter – trot – canter – trot – canter, then forward and backward within the canter,  I have to learn to sit more and I definitely have to learn to let go of the inside rein!  Through my whole session with Cesar I really felt he was helping Ferro and I become better partners.  Cesar obviously cares about the horse and helped all us riders become more effective in order that our horses could happily perform what we were asking without unnecessary interference from us.

Other demo riders felt the same warmth and caring attitude from Cesar.  The feedback I received from other riders was so positive:

Cesar`s approach to each rider was calm, objective and studied.  His test scoring was very helpful and reflected well all of the improvements he was focusing on for each horse and rider.  I would take another clinic with him anytime

I liked how open he was with the Hunter Jumper riders.  Cesar felt all hunter jumper coaches need to work with students who want to do dressage because it really improves their jumping!

The opportunity to ride with this fun and knowledgeable judge at a reasonable cost and at a beautiful facility was fantastic.  I hope we can repeat it again.

What came across for me was Cesar`s love for horses and passion for teaching.  It seemed like he rode every step of my lesson with me which I found inspiring.  I appreciated how invested he was in each and every session that I watched to improve both horse and rider fairly and correctly using the scale of training.

As I sit here writing and reflecting on the symposium I think I can confidently say that we all hope to get more educational opportunities like this in our area.  After all, Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire – William Butler Yeats and I feel so inspired to improve myself as a dressage rider, improve my horse and get out there and practice, practice, practice.

Thank you Cesar for lighting us all on fire!

Written by,

Kelly Vassiliadis

Victoria Saanich Cadora Director

May 2017