The Root of All Evil

(“The act itself tells you that you did it right.”)

All problems are fundamental problems. I think Erik Herbermann said that. Or maybe it was Philip Roth. In any event as I look back on all these months while the blog has been on vacation, I recognize that, Washington aside, not much has changed. In the dressage world. It still comes down to “How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”

I am so pleased when potential students come to me having discovered that there’s much more to dressage than doing the “tricks.” At first they may be exciting, but eventually light dawns that a half pass performed while sitting on the wrong seatbone, making a false bend by pulling on the inside rein, and riding with your inside leg out in space neither impresses the judge nor ends up being very emotionally fulfilling.

Those esoteric words that judges throw around – elasticity, cadence, engagement, and all the others – when you can make them elemental to the way your horse performs, riding will be the most fun.

To draw an analogy from other sports, when the ball comes off your racquet perfectly, if you hit your driver straight and far and pure, or if from the high board you enter the water with barely a splash, the act itself tells you that you did it right.

In our dressage world you will be rewarded in the show ring, but even more so by the feeling your horse gives you when everything happens the way it’s supposed to!

Often it doesn’t come from endless repetitions of the finished product. Rather, by analyzing what’s missing in your horse’s understanding or reaction to the basic aids and by dealing with them first you are able to proceed logically and, let’s hope, harmoniously! Much of the time a flaw in a complicated movement originates in a missing or broken brick in the horse’s foundation.  Address the fundamental issues, and everything else will fall into place.