I've thought long and hard about what I took away from this clinic. Being Christian's "puppet" - having him ride my horse through my body, always gives me a greater feel for what I am supposed to be doing when I am on my own. Outside of the mechanics of riding though, I took away some other ideas about being a student.
Christian and I have had a chance to get to know one another over the past two years. I know now that when he pokes or teases me, it's just his way of lightening the mood and making dressage fun. And it's not just me he teases; Christian is simply a funny guy who has a very jovial outlook on life in general. He's quick to laugh, especially at his own expense, and enjoys the work he does.
Christian has also had a chance to get to know what makes me tick and how I think and process information. He has seen that I take this discipline seriously and that I am truly willing to put in the work to get the job done. I think, I might be wrong, but I doubt it, that we have finally reached a point where we have created a teacher-student relationship that has a sense of commitment.
I am no longer a one-timer. I know Christian sees a lot of that type of clinic attendee - someone who wants to give a clinic a try, but probably won't be back. I've done that myself a number of times. A clinic was offered, I showed up, but for whatever reason was never able to reconnect with that instructor again. There is nothing wrong with that. I hope to do it again in June at the CDS Adult Amateur Clinic.
Being in a "committed" student-teacher relationship changes the instruction. I felt like Christian re-evaluated his purpose in my dressage journey. He started looking farther down the road than just at what was happening today. For this clinic, he took some extra moments and gave me some advice on how Sydney's tail should hang - it needed to be cut. He also corrected my use of polo wraps, explaining that my wraps weren't doing what I had intended.
It felt like he was buying into my dressage future. For the first two years that I fooled around with schooling and showing, I struggled with finding a trainer who was willing to help me achieve my goals. I finally found what I was searching for in JL. She wants me to be successful and is helping me go where I want to go. I think Christian has joined my little team, even though it may be from a distance.
If I had to name only one thing that I took away from this clinic, it would be that I am not a horrible rider. I am actually a good rider who has a lot going for her. I have a good seat, good balance, and a decent feel for not getting in my horse's way. Christian helped me see this.
Having someone of Christian's experience show such admiration for what I've accomplished with Sydney has given me such an incredible confidence boost. Having Christian's admiration helped me see myself in a whole new light. All along I've struggled with feelings of inadequacy: am I good enough, should I even bother, do I just look like an idiot?
According to Christian, yes, I am good enough, yes, I should bother, and no, I am nowhere close to being an idiot. And I know he wasn't patronizing me. He genuinely respects me as a rider. That was the best take away of all. Having Christian's respect gave me a huge sense of validation.
I feel like I finally made the team.
More to come ...