So refreshing to see
I stopped counting the number of negative threads I have read about dressage over the past year. I do lots of surfing at work, so we are talking many different forums. Anyway, I had almost lost my interest in dressage after seeing story after story about controversial training methods, horses being ridden drugged since they were dead lame or sore, harsh bits, bad hands, lots of stiff front to back riding with horses so heavy on their forehands the ground would shake beneath them.
Last week, an old riding friend brought her PSG warmblood to our barn to board. I got to watch her ride him yesterday. It was absolutely beautiful. He floated at the trot, had a beautiful spring to his canter, effortless flying changes, half passes to drool over, and not once was she in his face or loud in her aids. This horse was moving in his true gaits which was so refreshing to see. He has renewed my interest in dressage and given me hope that there are indeed very good high level instructors and riders out there. Hopefully the tide will turn completely back toward the type of riding I witnessed yesterday.
I tend to get bogged down on the Internet with all these articles and threads that are all negative towards the sport. There are horrifying stories, descriptions, pictures, etc. and admittedly I've been turned off to dressage because it just seems hopeless.
BUT! In "real life" I have seen upper level trainers do amazing things with their horses, nothing seems forced, it's awesome to watch.
So I just try to stay away from the negativity and focus on what the reality is locally. It's not as bad as the media makes it seem... Sometimes.
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People harp on the bad. There are bad riders/trainers/people in every aspect of horseback riding; you can't get away from them. I've worked at a dressage barn that had 4th through GP horses--they were all healthy and happy. Awesome trainer. Mostly wonderful people.
Dressage done correctly is beneficial to both horse and rider, and I've heard many trainers in various disciplines state that dressage improves any sport horse. Good flatwork tends to equal good everything else. It also teaches the rider to really understand how a horse moves, works, and perceives things.
Competitive dressage might not be for everyone, but my belief is that dressage basics certainly are :)
I think everyone is so quick to publish and gossip about the 'bad' of dressage but no one really talks about all the good and how beautiful dressage can be.
I think something like a dressage appreciation thread would be awesome - so that we can remember that it is a beautiful discipline even if some people ruin it.
I think that most of the negative dressage threads are just bad gossip and peanut gallery opinions, personally.
I have friends who are doing quite well internationally, and whom have trained extensively in Europe and get to see the day to day training of international quality dressage horses. Including at barns of people like Anky, and her students. It is still focused on the horse and his/her welfare, regardless of what popular media would have people believe.
I think an open mind is the solution to the "bad" dressage threads. But negative nellies will always pick out the few bad things regardless... We should really be supporting one another, IMO and this is why North Americans do not advance in dressage!! There is too much concern with putting others down, instead of thinking maybe there might be some ideas we can use, or encouraging each other and collaborating.
But, oh well. There's nothing I can do to change the behavior of others.. so I will just have my little opinion and keep chipping away at my own dressage.
Even at such a novice level, there is such a lack of support for one another.
It is true that there are bad trainers and riders everywhere..it is all over the equestrian world no matter which portion of the sport we are talking about and there always will be because these types of people only see the animal as a way to make money instead of looking at the horse as a partner with feelings, dignity and grace. Even the ugliest of horses out there, treated well, will give back that love. Treat any of them poorly and they become depressed, or even worse, dangerous.
I adore the upper level musical freestyle exhibitions and will say that most of the time it beings me to tears. Not sure if all the rides I have seen the rider and horse were in perfect harmony but the excellent rides I have seen you could see the partnership. A horse can be trained and do what they are trained to do out of fear, but, it is the horse who enjoys their job and does their work out of mutual respect to please their rider that is the one that wins regardless of their placings.
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