In which the only way to get better is to be bad at it first

 It's nice to feel competent, isn't it?

Fiddle + me = very good at trotting
(all photos and vids in this post by P. Robinett)

The first few dressage lessons of the winter were sufficient to get our brains back in the game.  

Fiddle and I feel comfortable at the trot pretty much always. 
We can trot all day together, literally.  Fast, slow, collected, extended.
When it comes to trotting, we have Mad Skillz
 We may not be as flashy as Monica and Gangsta

He's pretty fancy for a "lesson horse"

and we will never be as elegant as Betsey and Arianna

Pretty together

but when it comes to trotting, there's just nothing like a Standardbred.

Alas, we've reached that part of the winter lesson cycle where Dory starts to challenge us.

Challenge is a good thing.  Challenge helps us improve.

We can see progress.  The bending and stretching exercises she had us doing a few weeks ago were awkward to the point of awful when we started.

Now, we're starting to get a handle on stuff like haunches-in and shoulder-in.

It's not awesome yet, but it's not as embarrassing anymore, and the moral support of group lessons (where Dory yells and yells and yells and we all cheer when somebody gets it right) is so helpful.

Fiddle actually enjoys the bending parts, and it's pretty awesome when we make progress.

But I'd be lying if I said that I want to share the next video with everyone.

I don't.

It sucks.

Specifically, I suck.

I am absolutely dreadful at riding the canter.  Posture, ack.  Legs, ack.  And odeergawd my hands.

It would be so easy, so pleasant to share the pretty trotting pictures and let everyone admire how pretty Fiddle is at the trot.

It would be so easy to avoid posting video evidence of suckiness, and avoid all chance of people making rude (but true, and therefore even more painful) comments about it.


That's not fair.

There are folks reading this who want to ride better. There are also some folks who read my book, and think that I know how to do stuff--or at least, know how to throw myself in the path of knowledge and hope that it runs me over in a constructive way.

Those folks need to know that riding better is a moving target for all of us, not just for green beans!

And that means that, to be honest with my readers, I need to be public about stuff I don't do well.

I truly believe that the only way to get better at something is to start with something that isn't good to begin with.

I don't intend to suck at this forever.  Getting better is where I'm going, but I'm certainly not there.


Dressage doesn't need to be a crying sport.

(I did cry a bit today, but not as much as last time...)

By posting evidence of suckiness here, I'm also challenging myself to get better at this.

(It would be difficult to be much worse at it, frankly.)

From here, the only way is up.


Comment box is open.  Please be kind.


  1. These vids show what a really nice tail Fiddle has. Pantene Pro-V?

  2. It took a lot of guts to post this - so many people want everyone to think that everything is perfect. It can be very disheartening for someone just learning and having some trouble, especially considering how judgmental some folks can be. Thank you for sharing.

    PS. My Ruby likes to do that little kick out that Fiddle was doing in your first canter video, so I know exactly how aggravating that can be!

  3. I totally get it, all my besties are green (or unbroke) mares. Looks like some crop motivation is in order , just so she knows you are sure you really want to her to canter in that little area. Which means that the rodeo will get worse before it gets better. But you are a good rider and she's just trying to communication her displeasure. You've got this!

  4. Aarene, thank you for sharing...this has inspired me to see if I can get some video of my own riding and evaluate -- something I haven't done for years, mostly because I don't really want to know how sloppy I've let myself get.

    Fiddle's leg yield is looking great! She has such a beautiful way of going.

  5. You are so brave! You and Fiddle will have this licked in no time. (I LOVE your horse :D)

  6. Great post! Fiddle looks fabulous yielding! And like many a horse I've known trying to canter, haha, the tincture of time and tears indeed will address it. What a powerhouse to ride, it must really feel like something when she's naughty!

  7. Hey, I saw about six good canter strides in there towards the end, for both of you! I love that you posted this. The most embarrassing ride of my last decade was when I tried out the Standardbred I adopted -- I felt like Raggedy Ann up there, flopping all over while he power walked, power trotted, and paced. I felt your pain, but saw the progress. Thanks!

  8. Standard breds are made to trot, not canter , just remember that!! (and I know because I struggled for a long time with my Morgan mare at the canter who didn't believe she could canter. I do have some ideas that might help, I would be happy to share if you would like .. I don't want to be critical or come across as critical so that is why I won't post it here. This is hard stuff to do and even harder to put it out there for everyone to see. I commend you !


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