Dressage as it is commonly practiced is fundamentally unhealthy. What makes dressage unhealthy is that there is a constant search for something better instead of an appreciation of what is present right now.

For a moment consider yourself in a relationship with another person who is in the position of being your supervisor. They are never satisfied with your performance and sit in constant judgement of every action you make.

How would you react to such a person? Would your supervisor complain that you were resistant to their constant prodding? Would they say you were resisting their constant suggestions? Would you like being supervised by such a person?

Consider the horse’s situation then. It must seem impossible to live with constant prodding for a correctness you neither care about nor understand. What is in it for the horse in modern dressage?

Instead we learn to dance together and between each dance is a period of rest. When the either partner is out of time with the music, there is a patient pause of stop a waiting until there is sync with the music. The dance is short and it is a tune you love.

No matter how poorly you dance, you are praised and encouraged to go on, and so you practice. Such wonderful practice, regular and kind, always considerate of your physical capabilities.

How can you not improve ? How can you not have fun? Every dance you get better and every dance you partner improves.

Pick your dressage from this; supervised insane correction or wonderful dance practice. It seems to me like a no brainer. The first is unhealthy for everyone and the second is just a joy.

Perhaps the neurotic hypervigilance of the first has some value in discharging the stress and speed of your life but, do you really want to subject your horse to this? Perhaps a punching bag or a work out at the gym is a better choice than putting your horse through that but pretending that one is doing the dance all the while enforcing a neurotic correctness is just not right.

Find the joy, find the dance, find the good dressage which lives in your heart and leave the neurotic one behind. Show the horse your joy and not your frustrations through kindness. Ponder this and be compassionate to the horse.