The term dressage is French, as most people know, it means training but it is also a practice. To limit the term to only “training the horse” is to flatten what otherwise is a very rich experience. The effect of training a horse in dressage is not just something that happens to the horse but something that happens to us as well. Every horse that you train leaves one profoundly changed.
The process and methods used in dressage in the equestrian literature are both detailed and complex but there is really nothing written about how we are affected. We create this sea of complexity that tends to obscure the subjective effects. Dressage when well executed with kindness and awareness takes an unusual degree of bravery and a willingness to face our feelings.
Perhaps the difficulty we see in dressage and in the dressage world arises from a refusal to face our own feelings or to allow our deepest feelings for the horse to surface. When we can look with an open heart at who we are and the horse, the complexities of dressage fall away and we see both in ourselves and the horse the beauty of our tender hearts.
Let our dressage today reflect a simple song. Sing slowly to our horses and forgive them if they do not immediately join in. One simple action which quietly moves is the start of our musical dressage. Find gentle and kind reprises in the work. This is more than a metaphor and a good instructor and trainer knows how to sing and to share their voice. Find this music for this is the dressage that the horse waits for and that satisfies the deep longing to belong to each other. It is that simple, but in a sea of complexity it gets lost or is hard to find; never give up.