From Endurance to Dressage
Fishing For the Dressage Rider
When we first moved into this house in mid-October, we were immediately in love with the lake. I hadn't really thought to use the lake for anything other than scenery though.
Once things were mostly unpacked, I started to notice that there were fisherman wandering along the shoreline. It looked like such a peaceful thing to do that I asked my husband for a fishing pole of my own.
I have discovered that bass fisherman are very much like horse girls. They love to talk about their sport with anyone who shows even the slightest interest, and they buy just as much stuff as we do.
Just like dressage riders with saddles and pads, anglers have multiple rods and reels. So far, I have a spinning rod and reel, but every fisherman I've talked to over the past few weeks assures me that I need different rods and reels for all the different fishing I am going to do. Sound familiar?
Every time I think I have enough brushes, boots, girths, bits, and saddle soaps, I of course find something else that I need. Anglers might be worse than we are. They buy bait by the bucketful. My husband and I have already made a run to Big 5 Sporting Goods and Walmart for new hooks and plastics. Three different fisherman have also given me some of their favorite hooks and baits as well.
I've spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos and perusing Large Mouth Bass fishing sites. Just like dressage, there's a lot to learn if you want to do more than just stand there holding a rod and reel. If you want to actually catch something, you have to develop some feel.
My main reason for wanting to grab a pole of my own was to find a new way to just relax and clear my mind. Little did I know how much "riding feel" I could develop by holding that rod and reel quietly on the shoreline. You see, bass fishing has a lot in common with dressage.
The lake bottom, edges, rocks, roots, plants, and surrounding walls are all called the structure. The structure is where the fish live. As you cast your line into the water, you are feeling the structure with your bait. There are a lot of different kinds of baits. Some are meant to be pulled through the water quickly, others erractically, and still others are designed to be retrieved slowly and carefully.
How you retrieve your bait will determine how successful you are at catching fish. The rod and feel let you communicate with the structure and hopefully with the fish. Knowing what lies beneath the water, whether its mud, reeds, or rocks tells you how you might best entice a fish with your bait.
As I cast and retrieve, I use the time to "listen" to what my bait is telling me as I retrieve it. I had no idea how sensitive my hands could be. I can tell when my bait is traveling through weeds or rocks or when it has become mired in the mud. Sometimes, I can even feel a fish nibble my bait.
I have had some really successful rides on Izzy recently. Along with being patient with a good attitude, I decided to try and ride him with more awareness of his mouth and tongue - much like I've done while fishing. I realized that I can ride with a much lighter feel, and when I listened really closely, as I do with my rod and reel, I can feel what his mouth and tongue are doing.
On Sunday, I was absoutely delighted with how solidly he took the bit (bait?). While he was a little heavy here and there, overall, he was the most "on the bit" he's ever been for me. He got soft and supple through his back and was happy with the connection that I was asking for.
Of course, catching a few bass doesn't make me any kind of an expert on fishing. I am having fun learning though, and I am pleasantly surprised at how much fishing is like riding. My reins in the water are now doing double duty. A more relaxed rider with more sensitive hands can only be more successful in the saddle.
I wonder if the fish are biting today!
1/16/2017 03:18:05 pm
Anything that requires skill and concentration!
1/16/2017 03:18:34 pm
I find it to be so. :0
1/11/2017 06:37:51 am
Oh, now I wanna go catch a fish. As I was reading your post I thought to myself a few times, "She's kidding right?" Communicating with the fish!? : ) Glad you're having fun with your lagoon. I always picture you in Redwood Shores on Twin Dolphin (by Oracle). I know I know...
1/16/2017 03:23:23 pm
I am actually from Humboldt County, Lytha. Cape Mendocino, that bump that sticks out on the northern of California is the easiest way to find it. I did a lot of fishing from the beach as a kid, and my dad is an avid fisherman. I never did a lot of freshwater fishing, but now that it's in my backyard, it's easy enough to do. And believe it or not, as I ride Izzy. I imagine myself playing with my fishing rod and line and strive to be as light with him as I am with the fish! :0)
This reminds me of when I started Tango... there are so many similarities with riding, and it has made me such a better rider! The balance, the communication with your partner using only your body, feeling your partner's balance, learning to work together by feel...
1/16/2017 03:24:02 pm
I am sure that dancing is way, way better for developing balance and core strength!
1/16/2017 03:24:49 pm
Thanks, SarahO. The anglers of the world were no doubt rolling their eyes. :0)
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: