TT: A Pig in His Prime

While cleaning off an old storage drive recently, I ran across some old photos taken by Liz of myself and Pig during a 2016 dressage clinic. I'd never edited the raw files, so I thought I'd dig through them. It was so fun to step back in time to Pig and I schooling 3rd/4th.

Such a handsome horse. I love him so.

It's easy to slip into the belief that I was a better rider back when I was riding more advanced dressage. These photos made me realize that is not true. In many ways, I am a better rider now. My position is more solidly "into" my horse, instead of perching atop him so much. My legs have become much more effective and still.

I also still struggle with the same issues, though. My right arm always wants to stick out away from my body. My elbows don't like bending very much. I collapse too much in the middle, and give away my strength to my horse too easily. 

I also seemed to enjoy pushing off my feet quite a bit back then, something I still struggle to stop doing. Today, however I am not quite so absurdly skinny.

I see a lot of things about how I was riding then that I would change now. And I think that's good. It's a sign I'm continuing to learn, and educate my eye. Pig's constant struggle with throughness is apparent in many of the photos. I found myself wanting to reach backwards through time to fix what I was seeing.

Note to past self. Pulling on the outside rein is probably not the answer here.

I have to credit this red horse for teaching me so much about the finicky nature of connection and coming through. He was (and continues to be) a difficult puzzle in the bridle. The fact that we got my bronze scores and a score towards my silver still amazes me. He was never easy.

Though he was quite fun much of the time.

His difficulty made it fun for me to watch others ride him. There's sometimes a sick satisfaction in watching your trainer or clinician struggle with the same things as you on your horse. I think we all have to admit that to some degree. It feels good to see that it's not "just us" that can't inspire perfection in the horse with a mere thought. The feedback from a trainer ride can be so incredibly helpful when it comes to beginning to move toward that perfection, though!

Look at Stephen and Pig go!

If I remember correctly, Pig was due for stifle injections at the time of this clinic. He wasn't super excited about being asked to sit, especially with the right hind. Stephen hopped on to see if he could work through some of that, but Pig gave him a piece of his mind a few times. They did eventually get things back together, and ended on a positive note.

As for me, we focused on my upper body and arm position. I was asked to ride around with a whip between my elbows and back. Looking at these photos, that exercise made my hands way too high. However, it did keep me from collapsing in the torso (probably my biggest issue). I remember learning a valuable lesson here about core engagement.

If you've never been made to ride with a whip between your arms and your back, can you even call yourself a true horseperson? #realquestions

Taking a look at these photos was so fun and inspiring. I love how much I've changed as a rider in the last 4 years. Plus, it's always fun to look back and remember a younger and fitter Pig. What a massively good boy that horse is, and how good he was to me. He certainly earned that nickname of "Guinea Pig" a million times over in his life. I hope his younger brother appreciates how much my riding improved because of this red horse. 

Total hero status.


  1. I love watching your story with these guys <3

  2. Literally the trickest horse to connect I have ever ridden LOL just remembering sitting on him and looking at you and going "Wut?" lol

    1. Hahaha. Omg I forgot that! He was a great horse to learn on, bc you really could NOT rely on your hands at all. At least, that's the positive spin I put on it!


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