This year I went to the California Dressage Society/USDF state championships. I found the competition was very stiff. The were a lot of great riders with terrific horses at first level. The biggest barrier to placing was my inability to remember the tests. Of the four tests I took, I made at least one error, if not two -- that dropped my score a lot. The judges who watched my rides also suggested that an independent seat would increase my score (and make me a better rider).
At age 55, I am not completely brittle, but I not particularly flexible. My underlying fear of going to fast on anything, plus a terror of hitting the ground, shows. I grip with my thighs and balance with my hands. This is a problem I must solve if I ever hope to rise through the dressage levels.
Since I started riding as an adult (age 40), I have never had a real "feel" for sitting on a horse -- not like a rider develops as a youngster. I am also not athletic and my aids are quite crude. I yank, kick and can move with a rhythmic spasticity that sometimes alarms my trainer.
I decided to do my horse and myself a favor by taking lunge lessons in an attempt to develop more feel and hopefully more subtly as a rider.
I thought that those who are in the same situation might like to see the process. The horse in this video is a 20-year-old thoroughbred. His name is Beau. The scariest part of this lesson, I chose not to show. My trainer asked me to close my eyes with reins and then without stirrups as well. The sound level is low on this video, so crank up your volume.