We don’t have to be Perfect

Dressage is an equestrian discipline that encourages perfectionism. In dressage competition every movement is scrutinized and scored. The highest score for a movement is a 10. This is deemed “excellent” but not ‘perfect’.  That is worth remembering. 

Last week on Canada Day I had the opportunity to watch Canadian Olympian Megan Lane give “eyes on the ground” help to my coach Belinda Trussell, also a Canadian Olympian.

First up was the Uber Model horse; Touch. You may remember he was featured in a previous post. https://horseaddict.net/2020/06/20/the-olympianthe-uber-model-the-beautiful-venetian/   

As they worked with Touch Megan said something to Belinda that made a real impression on me.  “Sometimes I don’t think about ‘dressaging’ I just take a light seat and have fun.”

There were two things that struck me about this statement. First, the concept of riding with a light seat. Riders at Belinda and Megan’s level  can lighten or  strengthen their seat on the horse.  They can dial up or down. Second, the idea of having fun.  Dressage is not so easy and sometimes it is difficult to remember to have fun.  I made a mental note to remind myself of that.

Belinda was very happy with how the work was going. With a big smile she said: “That’s awesome. I felt that was the best feeling in the collected canter.” Light seat and having fun had worked well.

                                                         ***

The second horse was Feng de Lys. I wrote about this horse previously in my first blog post about Megan and Belinda helping each other. https://horseaddict.net/2020/06/05/the-olympians-are-in-the-arena/

Belinda told Megan that the change in the warmup, that Megan had suggested, had been very helpful. She said she would start with walking outside, weather permitting, and then would do forward and back transitions and not too much stretching. “It’s been really successful,” Belinda told Megan. After a few minutes Megan said: “Already he looks so much better.”

To me this reinforced the fact that horses are individuals. It is not one size fits all. One horse may need a certain style of warmup and another horse something different.

So what about trying to be perfect?

At one point Megan suggested to Belinda that she did not need to try to ride so perfectly. “I know we both try to do that,” Megan said. “So, just for now, try to ride less perfectly.”  If Belinda helped Feng less he could learn to help himself more.

From my point of view both riders are my idea of being pretty close to perfect. They make it look effortless. Their horses respond to the lightest of aids and look happy in their work. But I think they still want it to be better.

Dressage is not the only thing where we can get snagged by the goal of the “perfect”: perfect jobs, perfect relationships, perfect looks. Let’s face it (no pun intended) if there was not a search for perfect faces plastic surgeons would not be so busy and beauty products would not be such hot items.

 And by the way…. In my next lesson I am going to tell Belinda that I am learning to “not ride so perfectly”.  Ha-ha!  

I had some fun with the light in editing this photo of Belinda and Feng de Lys.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Your fine post reminds me of the saying: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Indeed, I find that “good” is just perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      I shall remember that quote. It’s a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Avery says:

    I can not even tell you how much love I have for all of this. Just ride. Just have fun. Taking away that negative pressure and tension from both. <3. Nobody is perfect. We are all individuals. Do your best and try to be better than yesterday. Starting with a fun smile, you can not go wrong. I bet the horses had just as much fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Yes! Thanks for this terrific comment Avery. I really appreciate it. 💕

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Tina Schell says:

    Life would be so much easier if perfection was not an option wouldn’t it Anne?! I think David summed it up well, if you love what you do, and enjoy the hunt for improvement, perfection will never be an issue!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. cagedunn says:

    The bliss of partnering up with a rhythmic dancer! Oh, and the fun, fun, fun of swinging and twirling and spinning in time to the joy!
    Loved the post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you Cage. I am so glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Joyful2bee says:

    From what I’ve seen on YouTube about training horses, they respond to what the rider or trainer is giving them emotionally. If the rider or trainer is uptight or tense, the horse reflects that. You obviously know horses! Great advice for life too though. Don’t take every thing so seriously.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks Joy. I think our horses do read us and it works best if we do not pressure them into our idea of perfection.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. David says:

    Perfection is the middle name for each of my three daughters. They may not compete in dressage, but they do look for that elusive perfect ride in showjumping. And, when they ride hunter, they know the judges are looking for that most elegant jump over an oxer or combination oxer. Not necessarily perfect but elegant.

    A couple of years ago, when Kent Farrington was having that monster year in showjumping, someone asked him why he was having such a good year, winning nearly every start. Kent’s reply was that he wasn’t doing anything special, but just enjoying and loving all of his rides. Whether it’s practice or in the show ring, you have to love it all, including when you’re having a bad practice session or a bad show day. Being perfect isn’t essential. Having fun, that’s a requirement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen says:

      Absolutely right David!😃

      Like

  7. Love it, when you can say things like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thanks Susie!😁

      Liked by 1 person

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