"One thing that that makes a passion enjoyable is that you don't have to worry about results. You can strive for triumph, or you can potter around, tinker, explore, without worrying about efficiency or outcomes." - Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project
Dressage has never a been my passion, horses have. Somewhere along the line I lost sight of that and its been a source of frustration as late. I have become too concerned with the results in the dressage ring, and forgot the rest.
Dressage fell into my life when I got Rose. I planned on doing the hunters with her; I was a hunter/jumper after all. However, I wanted her to have a dressage foundation, as I feel flat work is so important to the development of a jumper. Then a funny thing happened. Rose was naturally good at dressage. She was built for it, bred for it, and doing anything else with her seemed silly.
I plunged myself into the world of dressage. I still remember, standing in the Glison Street Saddlery shop in Portland, Oregon, staring at blingy browbands. Anything flashier than a fancy stitched browband was so foreign to me. Could I really put swarvski crystals on my horse? It turns out I could, and I did. I quickly developed an enjoyment of dressage, dressage shows, and the adult ammy dressage community. Rose made it easy though, but I never knew just how easy dressage came to a horse with naturally lofty gates.
I sold Rose and a year later, after moving to the farm, bought Gentry.
It was natural to dust off my tack and see what fit Gentry. For the most part Roses's tack, complete with blingy Keiffer swarvsky crystals, fit Gentry. He had very little training, so once again I was starting a dressage horse. At this point, due partly to habit and party postpartum anxiety, it did not cross my mind to do anything other than dressage with him. So we carried on, and we struggled. I chalked it up to green horse stuff, but as time passed over the past three years the truth of our struggles began to dawn on me. His gates are neither lofty or expressive. He is quite simply not a natural dressage horse. I had no idea how much more difficult dressage is with a horse that is not bred for dressage. Now I do.
This does not mean dressage isn't good for Gentry, nor that I will give up riding dressage with him. I would still like to get him to second level, someday. However, that day a few weeks ago when I dusted of my precious fancy stitched, buttery soft, leather goods and decided to jump him, I had a different horse. He was animated in a good way, focused, and fun. His dressage work has made him balanced, rythmatic, adjustable, and established flying changes. He sees his own distances and neither over jumps or hits poles. If he chips, it is my fault.
After three years of dressage with Gentry, I have decided to give hunter equitation a go. He is not built to be a dressage horse, nor is he an elegant hunter type. I no longer have the kahoonas for the jumper ring or cross country. However, I can look pretty while effectively riding a horse. A horse that likes to jump. That leaves us squarely in the world of hunter equitation and dressage equitation. I am exited to have this new focus. At the same time though, there are so many other aspects of horses that I find happiness in. Trail riding, skijoring, braiding, grooming, and just plain toodling. Horses are my passion. Not dressage. That is what I need to get back too and keep sight of.