I had an interesting ride tonight in an arena that was half-mud and extremely popular. I guess the slightly warmer temperatures are encouraging people to be out at the barn more – because there were so many people out riding tonight! I actually had to purposefully tack up quite slow in order to not be in an over-crowded arena. In any case, I like riding with people around usually, so I don’t mind. However, our canters weren’t going great today and I didn’t feel like I could fully work on it because of all the people watching. I started thinking later though, I’ve only just begun riding Gordon on my own out of lessons – things aren’t going to be perfect every ride because we’re still getting used to each other. Plus our ride today was better than Sunday’s ride. We had a lot of nice moments at the trot where I was sitting and following him nicely (not being stiff), and where his trot actually had impulsion as well as being in frame, etc. I was really happy with that. Plus he was an absolute trooper and had no qualms about walking/trotting through the mud like a pro. Additionally, even if our canters weren’t beautiful – ie. sort of strung out, not on the haunches, etc. – we were at least working on our issues. Our full-school canters have been really good recently, but we couldn’t work on that today because of all of the horses/mud. This is for the best because our dressage tests ask for 20 metre circles, so I really need to get more comfortable getting a nice quality canter while turning. Today Gordon’s steering didn’t seem to be working so well haha. We kept losing our canter because he was semi-running into the walls. He can be such a difficult horse sometimes. At least our upward transitions were decent though. Most importantly though, I felt safe and we had fun! Gordon was also a huge sweetie in the stall, totally loving the cuddles. These little steps on our journey, the small rides where things seem to be plateauing, or where nothing changes, are the building blocks upon which improvement subtly happens. The small moments of cuddling and grooming Gordon are what add up to the pleasure of the unique sport that is riding, so I need to enjoy “the ride” (hardy had har) and not always be so goal-oriented. I had two fun and safe rides this week and can’t ask for much more. As long as I keep practicing and having fun at the same time the whole improving thing should happen naturally – I hope!