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.

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Regionals and Food for Thought

        It is too long for a Face Book post! However, I do want to say thank you to everyone who has continued to believe in us, support us and contribute to our journey so far. To be able to show Blonde is an incredible opportunity and I am so grateful for everyday I ride her.

        Thank you to Whitney Bailey who is making this available to me. 

        Thank you Katrin Bettenworth for putting us together and for your continued support and encouragement.   

          Thank you to our awesome team, both here in New Hampshire and in Florida. 

                         Dr. Jonathan Allen, Dr. Kendall Milkey, Dr. Brett Gaby, Alfonso Osorio, Bill McMahon, Jamie Cohen, Dan Federico and Tigger Montague.

          Thank you! Victoria Ringquist for all of your hard work taking care of the guys! I so appreciate all your efforts and we could not be doing any of this without you.

          And then there are my beautiful friends and my family, who keep inspiring me to keep going after these amazing dreams I have. It is not only to be showing in the Grand Prix, but for me it is to be doing it in a relaxed and happy way. I am so excited that Blonde is a willing to go on this adventure with me. To build a connection so trusting and then be able to take it out to competition is really for me a Dream come true. There have been times where Blonde and I were not on the same page and it seemed what I wanted, (and sometimes people tell me!) What I want is not possible.  My husband, my beautiful friends and my family, have been there encouraging and believing in me and I could not have gotten this far without you. You know who you are and I love you!    

         This journey is not just about Blonde and me, it is about all the riders out there, young and old, who start riding because they want to connect with a horse on the highest level. We can do that at home, but to do it out at a show and to let people with dreams such as mine see that it is really possible, this is special to me. 

         At the Regionals this year I saw some of my colleagues and friends really living out this dream.  And I am so happy for you!! 

          On the other side I also saw some riders who allowed the pressure of the competition take a wrong turn. To compete on a day when things are not working as they had hoped and to try to force the outcome, this is a lesson we all need to learn. Hard to watch. I hope the lesson has been learned, however, I also want to say that I know what it feels like and I have been there too. If you have a team around you ask them to help you, try to step back and look at the big picture. The sun will come up tomorrow, new opportunities will arise, there is always another horse show. I know it does not always feel that way, but honestly, there is always another horse show. When your horse is not prepared to partner with you on show day, lower expectations, ask little, reward often, and get back on the same page. The trust you build will come back exponentially in the future.

               I love this sport! I want everyone to have as much fun as I do being part of it! It breaks my heart to see pressure and stress take away the joy and fulfillment that riding really can bring. There are a lot of posts right now about this very subject. We all need to be compassionate, every single person taking a stand in the conversation has felt the pressure of competition and at certain times failed in controlling their emotions. No one should be standing on a pedestal saying how it should be. Instead, we need to teach better, prepare our riders better mentally and emotionally and support our colleagues in times of stress and overwhelm. In the interest of the horses, we need to come together, not discriminate and judge. 

                Thank you for reading this whole long post!

                          I hope it gives feed for thought and encourages some action toward creating more of a community,

                       I love you!



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