Warney’s Christmas Rant… Can’t have your cake and eat it too

This year has been one of extreme highs, and very low lows…in other words dressage 😉 I finally made it into international competition after 6 years living along in Portugal (aka other side of the world), and then got a tendon injury from my spinning superstar and have had to take a rather lengthy time off.

halt
This year has been one of extreme highs, and very low lows…in other words dressage 🙂 I finally made it into international competition after 6 years living alone in Portugal (aka other side of the world), and then got a tendon injury from my spinning superstar and have had to take a rather lengthy time off.

Recently I have begun using myself as the example to help explain what is right and wrong, something I will continue to employ in my writing because it is a way to help people understand, but more than this it is a way to solve the common retort “well you are just jealous, or you are just saying that because you have never been out there doing it”.
The lesson that I will take away from this year is that riding is purely and simply a discipline of the mind. Riders need a thick skin not because they might fall on their bum, but because of all the mental aspects of our sport, from pressure, to fear, to humility; from injured horses, to injured riders, to unfair comments, and unjust praise. I wrote an article for Eurodressage, you can read it here, and this was even before I had really started in International competition..Art Vs War.
When my dream of competing internationally finally came true I arrived home after my first competition and skyped my web trainer mum, saying “you really wouldn’t do this unless you loved it!” It’s not easy, and riding a horse in that atmosphere, well I respect all riders for just being out there doing it.
However, as a rider I do get very confused. I have had a few people contact me lately saying that at judges clinics they are told that a horse with an exaggerated foreleg which did not match the hind leg and which had a modest over track in extended trot deserved a 7. But if you read the FEI rules they state that  “The movement of the fore and hind legs should reach equally forward in the moment of extension.”
The saying “can’t have your cake and eat it too” comes to mind. Hopefully I did a better job with this quote that “guts for gardens” although I did get a good laugh when people pointed out it was “guts for garters” because I had always pictured my grandma chopping me up into pieces and using me as fertiliser to grow vegetables in the back yard ;).

Truth is, in this sport, you have to stick to your principles. Problem is when all the principles become a big haze or fling ding, and you stop knowing right from wrong.

I was told at a competition that my horse is a Ferrari, and I will never be able to ride a Ferrari, and that he needs a rider who will have him “exploding”. I crept off out the back so that the person couldn’t see my tears, and went home to read the FEI objectives.  No-where does it mention that the horse should be exploding. In fact harmony, lightness, and correct training, are the terms mentioned up front.
As a rider, I can also tell you, that riding a fling ding flash test, is much easier than riding a test with true engagement, and even steps from the front and the back. True, it is NOT at all easy to ride internationally, but this is not an excuse to not keep trying to get it right, and to reward when riders do get it right.
I’m honoured that people read my blog, and my classical training articles on Eurodressage, and I am even more excited that there are so many purists out there, who truly want to learn and appreciate, the art of Classical Dressage.