August 12, 2021

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Thanks for all your love on the WW post! When Google Photos brought up those '5 years ago...' photos, it made me stop in my tracks. That season, 2016, was my first full season of Dressage after I failed Connor out of eventing, the first time I ever chased year-end awards, and we were doing First Level. 

Beginning of 2017

Five years later, we've only advanced one level further in the show ring, but we're miles ahead in terms of our fundamentals, which is no accident. Those of you who've been following this blog for a long time know that the summer of 2017 saw many emotional breakdowns on my part. I would stop at Lowe's on the way home from the barn and cry in the clearance plant section at the back of the garden center, lol.

End of 2017

I knew in 2017 that I wasn't doing this Dressage thing right, but I didn't precisely know what was wrong. After I took a flyer on 2-1 at a schooling show in July of 2017 (omg I thought it was three years I've been doing 2nd, but it's technically four!), I barely showed in 2018 and 2019, and then 2020 happened and made it almost a three year break, which was very intentional, (aside from COVID) - I wanted to fix the holes in our fundamentals before showing again.


Somewhere in there (May of 2019) I rode in my first Mary Wanless clinic (and my second), which led to riding with CGP, which led to sending Connor off for full training, and I started Pilates, which has been as influential my riding as any time in the saddle has been.

And thank goodness I found Mary Wanless, lol. Look at that torso.

We aren't ever going to be the pair that rockets through the levels one per season. I'm going to continue to overthink every fiber of my body in the saddle, he's going to continue to be "a complicated ride" as CGP thankfully validated for me. But feeling and seeing progress like that is all I've ever wanted out of my Dressage journey, so I'm okay taking the slow route while people whizz past me on all sides.



  1. After doing the "one level per season" all the way to PSG on my first Morgan many years ago, Stella and I are proceeding at a snail's pace in comparison. And I'm fine with that! The relationship we're building and the thrill at each baby step is my mental health Rx for my personal life, and that is better than blue ribbons right now.

  2. You were STILL amazing in 2017!! Just sayin lol

  3. I don't think moving up the dressage levels is that much different than moving up in fence height. And I really feel it's the better option to hang out at your level (or jump height) until you and your mount are confident in what you're doing. So nothing wrong with taking your time. There's no rush.

  4. The lessons that you are learning by doing it slow and correctly are going to carry you so much farther in actually *riding correctly* down the road rather than zipping along just because you technically can. With my current horse, on the days that he's confident and forward and on occasion smoothing over my mistakes I sometimes think about how I would probably be jumping in the 1.0m division at this point if I had a slightly more saintly horse that always jumped... but maybe I really shouldn't be since clearly there are some gaps in my ability still. The difficult to ride horses sure do teach us a lot!

    Also I agree with Karen, I think your 2017 still looks impressive!