Confessions of an Eventer

Confessions of an Eventer

By Sarah Morgan, SEDA Scholarship Recipient

Hello. My name is Sarah, and I am an eventer. And I have a confession to make. I don’t like to go fast. I’m basically working toward learning the piaffe so I can piaffe up to and over jumps. If you hear me on a cross country course, you’re more likely to hear ‘whoa, whoa, too much’ than any other sentence. As you might imagine, this can sometimes (always) work against me for timed events and for achieving a nice, comfortable jump. 

Sometimes, to really reflect on our own areas for improvement as riders, an outside point of view is needed. Of course, my own coach telling me – consistently and in varied ways – that riding forward to a jump is really my best choice doesn’t seem to land the same way it does when a clinician makes the same comment. Enter- Daniela Moguel. Danny has become a popular clinician in the area because of her gift for teaching, her sense of humor, her ability to assess the needs and abilities of horse and pilot, and, of course, because of her own skills as a rider. 

The last two times I’ve worked with Danny, her exercises for my clinic group have focused on adjustability- the concept of moving forward to the jump with the ability to collect, even to the point of stopping, immediately afterward. The pushing forward (in rhythm) to the jump gives a stronger push from the hind and a technically better jump, and the ability to check the forward motion allows for a rebalance back onto the haunches and a stronger, more powerful jump in proper balance. Exercises range from gymnastics (riding forward through a gymnastic to get more reach and push), to jumping a high oxer and halting within two strides- then a strong push from a standstill for two strides to another oxer. The exercises end with a course tying the elements together- gymnastics, a gentle half halting and rebalance, then pushing forward to an oxer, a rebalance and collection then immediate push forward to a second jump. 

I struggled, not with the collection, but with having enough of a push forward. The difference in my speed between the halting portions and the pushing forward portions of the exercise were apparently not visible to the naked eye. The amount of micromanaging I was forcing on my saint of a horse was getting in the way of my pushing forward to the jumps. Danny spotted this immediately and had me first sing Barry Manilow while working through the exercise (one can’t do Barry Manilow justice without extreme concentration) and later tell jokes. This somehow worked. That, coupled with a few gently pointed notes (“You think you are going fast right now. You are really, really not going fast”), allowed me to see and FEEL the difference in the collection and push forward, and begin to appreciate that fast and scary aren’t the same thing. 

I’m still working on the moving forward part. I will have to continue to think of it, consciously, and sing to myself to practice non-micromanagement. But, at least I have my strategies, and I have the knowledge that I CAN do it, even if it took an outside source to push me to make it happen. 

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