What is wrong with my dressage?

What is wrong with my dressage?

What is wrong with my dressage? Here is the question. We study and practice, practice and study and yet despite approval of others or a momentary sense of satisfaction, the question remains, “what is wrong with my dressage?”

Of course, some simply feel the question, not enough to give birth to the words but enough to be bothered by a feeling of emptiness after self-praise or the praise of other subsides. “What is wrong with my dressage?”

In complete denial of the question, with an eye deliberately looking the other way, we feed money into our horse “habit” by new clothes and bits, perhaps a new saddle or some gadget which is all the current rage. We take lessons from all of the right people who assure us as they cash our check that the question will go away if you just work a little longer and a little harder or take that extra lesson.

We put our horses in training, ransomed by the best, we try and not ask the question, “what is wrong with my dressage?” but instead, we direct our anger and frustration toward those people who would ask the question. Of course, we know they are the “woo-woo” type. How dare they imply that we are not kind to our horses or worse that our dressage is not correct!

So, we hide from the question or wonder in private while vehemently asserting our correctness (as if the intensity of our outrage would put the question to rest) “What is wrong with our dressage?”

This is the problem of modern dressage. Our passion for a method, instructor or school of dressage, or our aggressions or ignorance does not remove the void we feel.

Where is the cure? What is the answer? When our dressage can surrender its aggression towards the horse and can listen openly; when our dressage can put the horse first, surrendering our goals and carefully timed training schedules; when we can find compassion and kindness directed to ourselves and our horse perhaps we can fill the hole and answer the question, “what is wrong with our dressage?”

It is all pretty simple really. We all have a place we are going. Our dressage like our life is a journey we take. Our time is limited, but it is not how far we can get, but rather how deeply we can travel.

We can all read in any good book about dressage how to get to the upper levels in a few hours or less, but when we have to make the journey with the horse, it is different.

We find a horse unable to read or understand the books and unable to keep to our version or timeline. The horse then must be our guide and it is the horse that takes us deeper. Deeper into the work and deeper into our mind we are drawn. We can fight it or go with it, but in the end the horse wins, for if we are to train to upper levels then we must find a way which obtains the consent
of the horse.

Some horse are quicker than other and some humans are too, but if we seek to find the way which speaks to all horse and all humans, we must accept the idea that it takes the time it takes. No amount of aggressive behavior will help, for when we take that path there is always a price to pay (in the horse, human or both; aggression eventually destroys the very thing it seeks to achieve).

We suffer and our horse’s suffer because we want life and our dressage to be different than what it is. To break this chain we must first come to understand what is. Listening and observation are the replacement for aggression and kindness which arises from a true perception for harmony is the only path worthy of the trip.

Thus our minds must be at one with the horse and the horse reveals its own path and from this we seek to clarify our confusion and hope for wisdom to dawn. This is the path to an enlightened training which will bring an enlightened horse society and the way is always simple; consistently be generous, be kind and let your efforts put the horse first. Reflect on this for this is superior dressage and the answer to the question, “what is wrong with my dressage?”