Migrated Other

The Ups and the Downs

little girl hugging horse
Written by Andrea Parker

I had a funny blog post all set to share tonight, but instead I want to talk about something else – the ups and the downs of this sport.

As some of you may have seen from my most recent blog I’ve had a funny past couple of weeks in my riding. And when I say funny, I don’t mean humorous, I mean strange and challenging. Some ‘old’ issues, namely the contact and my ability to keep Nonie soft through the body have cropped back up. Over the past few weeks I trawled back through my memory bank regarding different strategies that I could (and did) try to help get things back on track.

My inability to ‘fix’ things left me feeling pretty rubbish. I was questioning my skills and abilities as a rider. I even wondered if I had ruined my horse.  At the same time I was trying to remind myself that I had successfully taught Nonie the flying changes, and had got her to medium level.

Yesterday I had a great lesson with one of our local coaches, Nancy Baretta. It wasn’t great in the sense that Nonie and I were producing exceptional work or learning new movements. It was great because we went back to basics and in the end I had a horse who was using her body and seeking out contact with me. But boy did we have to go way back to basics:

  1. If you ask your horse for something and they ignore you, you need to make your aids stronger.
  2. Always go forward.
  3. Check that you have your horse around your inside leg.
  4. If your horse is finding something difficult don’t do their job for them. Ask them, get the response, leave them alone and if/when they make a mistake/revert ask them again.

I hadn’t lost my way, I hadn’t ruined my horse. I just needed to be reminded about a few things to get us back on track.

This afternoon I felt like I was back on my old horse so to speak. We stuck to the basics and got them working well.

Why am I sharing this? Two reasons. The first is selfish in that writing about things generally helps me to more fully understand an issue and sort through my feelings about it. The second reason, is that I’ve realised recently that there are some younger people in my local area that look up to me. As these riders go through their own challenges, I don’t ever want them to think that they are alone or that their role models don’t face their own challenges – the ups and the downs are a part of this sport.


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About the author


Andrea Parker

Andrea is an Adult Amateur dressage rider who competes at medium level on her 13-year-old mare Mon Ami. Andrea shares her journey through the equestrian world on her blog The Sand Arena Ballerina and is working on an equestrian podcast called Equestrian Pulse.


  • THat is what horsemanship and life are all about. Everything goes back to basics and when you feel like you are going backwards….go back to what you know and build from there. That means the basics. The build back does not take long and it is not starting over. It is just the path to success…it is not straight! Thank you so much for sharing. It is something that many forget about the journey.

  • Absolutely Avery! I think sometimes its easy to get overwhelmed by perfecting the higher level work at the expense of the basics. And if the basics aren’t working nothing else will.