Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Be Youthful in Your Approach

            Upon returning from a show this weekend I had a lot to think about. Not only from the show, but also from an amazing coaching call we had earlier in the week.
This blog entry is dedicated to Olivia Suker, with Love

Lately I have been signing out:
                   Be Youthful in Your Approach
                   Know Anything is Possible
                   Connection is the Key

                 I love these three points, and interestingly, the more I think about them, and live with them in the forefront of my mind and decision making, the more value they bring.
                 I have to say it is funny how that happens.

                So let's start with;
                                                     Be Youthful in Your Approach

               Many years ago I had the occasion to be invited to watch Hubertus Schmidt in one of his first private clinics in the US. He was riding several super horses that had been trained by him in Germany and then purchased by this nice lady that allowed me, and my partner at the time, to come watch. It was a fabulous experience to say the least. My fist impression of Hubertus was how playful he was in his riding. How he approached every exercise in a relaxed and non egotistical manner really struck a cord with me. His posture seemed to blend with the horses natural movement rather than manipulate it, his joy was effervescent. When money and horses are combined there can become a pressure that infects the basic beauty and joy that the horses bring us. Yet, here I was watching a man with tremendous pressure to succeed still riding in a joyful and loving way. This experience really touched me. I have been in many training stables where the pressure and money seemed to over ride the true spirit of why we do this in the first place. It gave me great hope that I too could be successful and still compassionate and loving at the same time.
              Through the years I have had my ups and downs. Truthfully the downs have always correlated with unhealthy pressure I put on myself and that I forgot this fundamental principle.
               What does it mean to be Youthful in Your Approach?
                      To me it has grown to mean:
                                       Always open yourself to learning, approach every situation as a student
                                       Ask questions, stay present, no judgement
                                       Keep your body open and relaxed; practice, breath, try again, be like a child
                                       Remember that we are all unique in our own being, savor that, do not compare yourself to other people. Get to know yourself as a child would, independent of other people and their ideas of you.
                                       Learning comes from putting yourself in difficult situations that force you to grow; never back down from the pressure, open yourself to learning the lesson and stepping up to the plate.

                    I hope this helps bring a new positive perspective to your riding, and to the relationship you have with your horses.

                  Be Youthful in Your Approach
                  Know Anything is Possible
                  Connection is the Key

              To be continued :)



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