(“. . . less than a parallel universe or another dimension.”)
So you are back from something big—the championships or the regionals. You were more than OK—middle of the pack or better but less than you’d hoped. On the drive home or perhaps sitting by the fire in your own living room with a glass of wine, you take stock. Improvement can come two different ways.
As you review your rides, you can pick out a number of places where you lost a point or two: he stepped back in his halt; his haunches led at the start of the leg yield; he stepped out or stuck in one turn on the haunches; he switched behind for a step coming back from a canter lengthening. Clean up a few of those and your out-of-the-ribbons 67% jumps up to fifth place in a tight division. Yes, every point counts and your entire presentation is the sum of your attention to all those details.
But there is something larger going on. If you were wise, you would’ve watched some of the top scoring rides or some good tests in the level above where you competed. Most likely the differences you saw between theirs and your ride were related to balance and expression. A pleasant, harmonious test is certainly desirable but in tough competition that won’t get you to the top.
This is where you must actively create a different way of going. More springy, more cadenced, more up-hill, more expressive. What we are talking about is less than a parallel universe or even another dimension. But it IS certainly a quantum leap in your demands and the relationship you must have to accomplish them.
Chances are your horse will have to become hotter (quicker) to the leg but remain confident and relaxed, not anxious, which can only happen if he is coming through in a more sophisticated way than probably he has been. He will have to become more mindful of the conducting and governing effects of your body language and weight aids. In short, your riding may have to rise to another plane in order to bring him along to his. It’s a good thing that winter is coming!