I love a gallop just as much as the next person, ok maybe not as much as an eventer, but I do genuinely love the feeling of thundering through the waves at the beach, the salt splashing up in my face. So why then do I ride dressage? Let’s assume that it isn’t because I am a glutton for punishment. Let’s also assume that it’s not because I have a type A personality.
As a young rider I participated in all disciplines (dressage, jumping, showing gymkhanas, I even tried my hand at team penning and camp drafting a few times) on my one horse. For the most part I enjoyed them all. But it was pretty clear back then that I wasn’t like the other kids who yearned for the thrill of the jump off or the all out speed involved in the gymkhana events.
No my favourite event on gymkhana day was rider class. While I loved training cross country, my heart was never in it on competition day and show jumping could be fun when it all went to plan, but I knew that it wasn’t my jam. A few serious concussions and my father’s growing concern sealed the deal, my purpose in life was to be a dressage devotee.
I remember clearly when I made the decision to put all my focus on dressage. My horse at the time Sullivan was a super warmblood x Percheron gelding. He gave me my first taste of sitting on a powerful equine.
Some time later, I was offered the ride on my coach’s super sensitive, but exceptionally talented mare, Selesta. This is an opportunity that I will be eternally grateful for because the chance to feel advanced movements like passage saw me fall in lust with dressage.
Life. It’s about finding that thing that makes you feel alive that sets your soul on fire. And those rides on Selesta had lit a fire in my belly and set me down the centreline chasing the ultimate – Grand Prix. But it wasn’t until many years later this lust developed into a true love for the sport of dressage.
This love came from feeling the multiple incremental improvements that result in the most spectacular feeling. It’s knowing that the success you and your horse have achieved is the result of your hard work. It’s the pride that swells in your chest when you start to ride advanced movements on a horse that you have brought along from the beginning. But most of all it’s the ability to communicate and connect with your equine partner without so much as a word.
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