Thursday, February 9, 2012

In which I have a lightbulb moment

Not a nerve, not a chord.  Not sure what. . . . but a recent post on a driving digest by a noted judge struck something in me. The gentleman wrote at length about the concept of "tracking up".  His judging premise du jour is tracking up above all else.  I know this to be true as he was the judge at C in my last recognized driving competition and we were heavily  penalized at every movement.  One comment in almost every box.  Not tracking up.  At the same time, the judge at E, a classically trained dressage rider well on her way to Senior status, pinged the pony for lack of impulsion (not tracking up) , but also rewarded his relaxation, rhythm and submisson. Judge at C - thumbs down,  Judge at E - thumbs up.  I haven't decided whether the practice of having multiple opinions in dressage is an encouraging or discouraging situation.  Of  course, someone is surely apt to make at least one positive comment, thus rendering the other judges' outlooks as warped, uneducated or otherwise ignorant.  Insert disclaimer here:  Judging is never easy, and I hope that if I ever get the opportunity to sit at C, I can come up with observtions and scoring that will help competitors better their partners. It took me 3 1/2 months to realize the judge at C, in a convoluted sort of way, did just that. 

Which brings me to Dressage Anonymous and the Six Step Program.  While pondering all of this, coupled with my irritation over "not tracking up" - don't tell me what you see, tell me what I need for a better score! and tempering all that with the knowledge judges must comment on what they see on the day - so unfair!  Can't I just bring a video in of my last lesson with the Queen of Darkness and let them judge that!!  I dug up an old eventing book by Jane Wallace called The Less Than Perfect Horse.  It's out of print now, but well worth re-reading.  The early chapters are all devoted to the six steps to self carriage, and NOW finally, I am beginning to have a grasp of what all that means.  It's a little like being able to speak a foreign language, but not truly understand what you are saying.  There has been something lost in the translation for sure, and finally, 20 years after I bought the book, I have stumbled across the rosetta stone to intrepret it. 

Relaxation, Rhythym, Contact, Straightness, Impulsion, Collection. 

Brynnie and I spend a lot of time stuttering up and down the first four steps.  Sometimes we get them out of order.  A lot of times step one and step four are a struggle.  More and more we get to the point each day where we can take the next step up to impulsion, teetering there precariously, trying to find our balance.  It's exciting to think that maybe, just maybe, we can plant ourselves firmly on that next rung.  Take the pledge.  Stand up and say hello, our names are Bryn and Dana and we are on the road to recovery. So while I have to thank the judge at E for confirming where I am on the training ladder, I must also acknowledge the judge at C for reminding me there is a training ladder, to understand where I am on that ladder, and to acknowledge that steps on the ladder can't be skipped.

1 comment:

  1. Dana- I love your writing style, as well as your message. Thanks!