The Big Picture

amywink September 30th, 2011

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Look at all the pretty circles. This is the GPS map of my lesson last week. The lesson felt as lovely as it looks and I was so pleased to see how good it looked from the satellite. Though I can see several issues on my individual laps (which I am not posting), the entire map shows a quite lovely drive. Sometimes it’s best to look at the big picture.

I got back to driving this month, the weekend the horses came home from their evacuation, and we are slowly preparing for our first Horse Driving Trial, at Haven Hill in November. It’s been 2 years since I’ve been over there and Will and I have come along way from our training days!

This is also part of my “5 year plan” to compete in an HDT or CDE. I have now been driving 4 years, and Will for 3, if my calculation are correct. I had actually devised the goal, oddly enough, as an example for a writing class I was teaching at Southwestern University in 2005. I’d sort of forgotten about that goal, leaving it written down on an assignment sheet will do that to a personal goal! But as I sent in my entry form this year, I thought about that 5 year goal and the long arc we’d taken to get to the actual fulfilling of it. And that big picture came into view again. As Martha Beck wrote somewhere, it’s important to have both the eagle view and the mouse view.

Right now, I am also looking through the mouse view. I am working on memorizing the Training Level Dressage Test 2, which I am concerned I’ll forget in the middle. The first time I drove a dressage pattern, I felt so good about half my circle that I totally forgot the other half…..thank heavens it was only a CDE clinic. This time, I want to make sure I have it down so I can enjoy the dance.

To that end, I have gotten a bit obsessive about learning the pattern. I created my own dressage field on paper, using a spreadsheet I could print, then I spent some time “driving” the test on paper during my lunch hour at the office (yes, students, your professor really is obsessed with carriage driving!). As soon as I got the basics down, I decided to practice “on the field” instead of just on paper so last Friday, I spent some time walking the arena. I “performed” the test twice, talking my way through the gait changes. I got all the actual elements right in my memory….but I can not walk a 40m circle to save my life:

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Can you believe those… those….. footballs?? Yeesh.

Thankfully, I *drove* the test this past weekend and I can drive a much better circle than I can walk.

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And yes, yes, I understand the prevailing theory of not driving the dressage test so your horse doesn’t memorize it and anticipate the movements wrongly, but I needed to try it, and well, *walking* it was clearly not going to do it! Interestingly, ridden dressage websites recommend riding your pattern once a week. So, what’s the difference between driven and ridden memorization, I wonder. I will break it apart in several different sections as we get closer to the actual competition.

So, the weekend approacheth, and it will be back to driving. Last week, I finished my lesson a little after 9 and had enough time to drive Will before it became blazingly hot, at 11:00. The weather people promise us that the 100+ temps are “finally broken” but we shall see. They’ve also given us the festive news that we may be in a 20-40 year drought cycle. So when did that clock start???

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