Brilliant and profound.

Brilliant and profound.

Where is the brilliance in modern dressage? Where does it show any profundity? Is your dressage brilliant and profound? Brilliant : markedly rich or conspicuous in quality. Profound : having very great depth : extending far below the surface. Where in modern riding would these two adjectives apply? It would seem that we are surrounded by work which demonstrates neither of these attributes. In fact, even modern competitive dressage judges are almost unanimous in proving the superficiality of modern riding. If this were not so then, how then can you explain that 5 and 6’s are the most common marks on dressage tests. It seems the only way out of this was the FEI telling the judges to award higher scores at international competitions and so now mediocrity via that directive is now measured in 7 and 8’s. Isn’t tragic that instead of engaging in meaningful education to improve dressage, the way forward is to get judges to score higher? That to me would seem to be the very definition of superficiality on an institutional scale. So how can we help change this? Find the brilliance and profundity in your own work. Look deeper into what you are doing with the horse. Discover, or should it be said, uncover the brilliance which is present in every horse and in every ride. Be profound in the examination of what you do with your horse. What you will discover is that this wonderful discipline called dressage can bring to you a deeper and greater joy. This is what good equestrian instruction is about; uncover brilliance and experience that which is profound in...
Condemning the sky

Condemning the sky

From our experience in school and parents, when you were told to do certain things or perhaps when you training with an instructor in equitation, a common strategy in teaching was to make you feel guilty and bad. We were given the impression that the only way to learn is through constant correction. We manage ourselves and our horses with this idea in mind. We come from a culture of constant punishment involved in learning. We have learned to see our mistakes as bad and therefore,  we work with a constant stress of trying to be good. It is however our mistakes which lead us to find improvement not just in ourselves but it is the horse’s mistakes and resistances which lead it to find greater skill. If your horse is have difficulties, it is a bad horse and you are a bad rider, you’re told how bad your skills are and how weak or badly built you horse is, so that you will learn to train properly or find another horse. If you or the horse can’t maintain composure during a training session or in any performance situation, it became obvious you need more lessons , your horse need more training or you need a new horse. Therefore, you’d better work hard to be a good rider, pay of more training or get another horse.. We have created a culture of condemnation instead of one of kindness. This faulty logic is frequently used to educate horses, and it has affected both you and your horse in a less than desirable way. Proper education in dressage for horse or rider is education absolutely without punishment, . Many people try...
Healthy?

Healthy?

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...
The Ticket to the Ferry

The Ticket to the Ferry

What is dressage and where did it come from? Of course there is the historical story, and various technical versions from the past but there is much more. Each generation recreates their version of that story but adds to it a touch of their own culture and times. When you pay attention to the details in being with the horse or in your way of working with the horse, and in general, whenever you pay attention to in the basic realities which are always present, the horse can and will begin by its nature to speak to you. The horse then can dictate to you what to do and how to be, so you have these natural reference point happening all the time. In every ordinary situation as well as in extraordinary situations, there is always feedback from the horse and the environment as well as from your own basic connection with your existence. From this comes the wisdom of the horse to which we add our own wisdom. This can only properly occur when fear abates and a natural sanity arises. We connect to what is possible now. The greater the aggression and arrogance we have the more we shut ourselves down from finding such wisdom but still even then, there are always hints to lead you home. Good dressage follows the breadcrumbs and the open heart finds the way. To talk of such things is easy but to find this path is not always easy. Go beyond. Step into space and go beyond. The trail at its start seems so narrow but step beyond. There is a...
The Loss of the Mind

The Loss of the Mind

The principle of wisdom in dressage is to learn to be aware and take the hints that the horse provides. The ability to find proper meaning to those hints is dressage. Underneath it all the horse functions like a mirror and so what comes up in a ride is never about the horse being naughty or bad but about you demonstrating these qualities. Of course, given a choice, it is easier to deny this than to even consider the the problems of resistance which arise in dressage is the mirage you create in your own mind. The more you seek to hold on to any view the more you dull the mind. Training is not about the imposition of your will on the horse but of the suppleness of mind which brings you both together. So it is that we lose our mind but it does not seem like that. It seems like our aggressions save and carry the day. We win, yes but in winning we become more and more isolated not just from the horse but also ourselves. The kind of strategy, I would wish to report, does not work but in fact it does work. Aggression is the number one way of training and handling horses. It is so common as to be unseen. “That is just the way it is done.” Most of us, know there is something fundamentally wrong in dressage but we doubt our own perceptions because, “well, everyone is doing it.” So it is that we yearn for something else. What we do not know but whatever it must be will be...