If your training doesn't continue to advance and you don't see improvements then you are stuck in a rut so to speak. Horses should continually improve, even when they're old campaigners, because there is no such thing as a static condition, in other words, there's no such thing as "done". If you don't improve you will only go backwards. Not to mention that every year things get tougher out there as some others do improve and new competitors hit the scene.
Opera singers, dancers, musicians; they all practice all the time and are continually improving but often I see riders who are satisfied to just continue along happily without looking for ways to improve. No horse is perfect and left on their own, horses will start taking short cuts or the easier way to do things, not the correct way. So, in being vigilant you will find it's easy to also improve. Many times these are just small things but the small things add up and soon you'll find your overall performance is better.
Many riders just aren't conscious that training is a constant, evolving process. It's part of what makes training horses so interesting to me. I also always have an image in mind of what I want a horse to become, I think this is important.
I was riding Joanne Salisbury's gelding "Ex" the other day and realized he was giving me the ride I had always visualized. Boy was that a thrill! We got there by never staying static, never saying "this is good enough". Let me be clear here though: I'm not talking about individual rides, I'm talking about looking at the long view. Looking at the top of a steep mountain and saying "I want to go there", so that day by day you get a little closer to your goal. You and your horse will be challenged and you will become a better horseman for it! See you next week, JD.