Since I've been effectively grounded due to a leg injury, I've been thinking about my goals with my pony and wondering what direction I'm going. It's early yet, but there's a part of me that is wondering if I will be physically able to ride dressage. See, here's the back story on me and riding...
When I was about 23 I was riding six to seven days a week. I would ride anything I could get my hands on. I was riding three day eventing, not because I was a brave, fearless rider but because my trainer felt I had natural talent. I had a half Arab cross that was a handy jumper, but a bit strong. One day we were training outside on the small cross country course. We were galloping over a log jump with a drop. I was scared, my horse was too fast and I was leaning too far forward. This was before eventing vests were popular. I was wearing a helmet and boots but that's about it. We tumbled end over end over end. I broke all the little top bones in both my feet (metatarcils...may have spelled that wrong), cracked a bunch of ribs and hyper extended a bunch of muscles in my lower back. I also ripped my hip flexor tendons on both sides. I was out of work for two months and in physical therapy for a year. Though the major things healed up, I was told that due to damage to the hip flexors I would not be able to ride again effectively. I sold my horse soon after that.
I decided the next best thing would be to ride Western where I would not as deep a seat. I bought a cute little Western Pleasure bred mare and futzed around with her for a few years. I missed riding english. I sold her to a 4-H'er and went without a horse for about ten years. Then I had a baby. I missed horses and ended up buying another Western Pleasure horse. Due to crazy life circumstances and a distinct personality clash (the horse was supposed to be bomb proof and was scared of his own shadow), I ended up selling him to another 4-Her. He is now happily cleaning up on the 4-H circuit. I also realized that Western Pleasure just wasn't my thing, especially how it's done these days. Between the spur training, the dangerously long, loopy reins and the training that most folks use to get them there (tying the head around etc.) I just wasn't interested in going there.
Fast forward a few years and I'm taking dressage lessons once a week. My hips seem to be handling it just fine so I jump head first into buying a horse (welcome to the Princess Pony!). My riding goes from one day a week to six days a week. Still no major problems. But I haven't really been 'riding' six days a week. I get on and work through my fear or work through the pony spooking or not going forward, but it's been pretty rare to actually ride hard in a lesson. Until recently. We're getting past all the little foibles and starting to work hard. Sure enough, now I'm injured. I haven't written dressage off yet. It could have been a combination of too deep a seat and not enough stretching.
However, it did make me think about what it is I want to do with this pony. And I don't know. I like dressage for it's technical aspects and how it feels when you get it right. It's a bit of a high when you feel their back come up underneath them, when their back feet step deeply underneath and the two of you float on a singular thought, on a shared breath. This is what I want. But if my body can't handle the deep seat of dressage, maybe I just want a good horse. Maybe I could do little local shows where we ride Western and English. We could trail ride. We could try archery on horseback (ummm, yeah, I found this yesterday and WANT WANT WANT to try it. I'm ignoring the fact that I'm still nervous just riding and haven't shot a bow and arrow since I was 13 and had to do it in gym class.).
Do you have big goals for your horse? I'm not talking about daily, weekly or even year goals...I mean, do you have an overarching GOAL for you and your horse? Does your barn support multiple disciplines? This is another thing for me...my barn is an eventing barn. Period. You can just ride the dressage portion (which I am right now) but NOBODY rides Western or goes to other shows that are not dressage or eventing. Do I need to know what I want to do with my pony (besides the obvious equipment question...)?