Andrew and I went to Frankfurt two weeks ago to the big CDI show there, and watched some top riders. As always, it was an intellectual exercise to try to separate some of the things I would want to emulate with the tension and short necks I would not. My favor generally fell with the younger riders: they seemed supple and sympathetic. The older riders as a group were tighter and more forceful. I made some notes in my training journal about young vs old and wondered how could I embrace the best of both.
This week, I watched Gerd teach many of the farm riders (some lower level dressage and some jumpers and eventers) in Germany. Although I could make some very educated guesses about the German instruction, I couldn't actually understand many of words. But I could watch how people sit and observe the results.
My new inspiration is Louisa. She is a 20 something riding a first level sort of horse. She was supple and still and solid and soft all at the same time. Like sitting that way was the easiest thing in the world. Something about watching her clicked. In my rides since that clinic, I think of "Louisa" like a verb. I put it in my internal dialogue to sit more deeply, calmly, with elasticity. Claude loves it. Gerd loves it. I love it. Perhaps you will see something in my next videos, perhaps it won't show on the outside just yet.
So don't underestimate the power of watching. Make sure you fill your eye with what you want to look like. And don't think it has be be a winning dressage rider.
(And yes of course this would be the most natural place to post a video of Louisa riding, except I was so enthralled watching I failed to get any footage!)