*This week's Trinity Dressage Schooling Idea*
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
I was just reading the Jeremy Steinberg article in thehorsemagazine.com (Link). It's a frank, personal discussion on dressage and where he thinks it's headed, and where he thinks it's not (or perhaps shouldn't be anymore). Very thought provoking stuff, and I encourage you to read it. It puts a fine point on the pen that I often use to write down my list of 'articles of self-doubt' and where I think I might fail my clients, my horses, myself: That self-doubt is what keeps me accountable to me, and no one else, and makes sure that my standard is the highest one in the room, because it sees even the ugliness, perhaps just from simple mistakes, that can lurk beneath the glossy blue ribbon surface of success. It is the part of me that wants to fix that ugly, not use it to recreate the success. The ugly then becomes a form of guilt, and that keeps me trying harder, or at lease searching for the answer.
I gave two very direct lessons recently to a student. They weren't necessarily pretty, and they were full of 'aha' moments and plenty more "no, that's not right." But the underlying idea was that a small success for the rider would NOT come at the expense of the horse, or the training, or the day's goal. If it's not working I give a thoughtful rider permission to try things outside my directions, but also reserve the right to put a halt to the whole thing if the underlying sentiment is wrong. Don't misunderstand me, there are always times we have to be firm with a horse; there are even times we have to make sure they don't hurt us. Sometimes, we just have to 'get it done' in order to avoid the dominoes from tumbling further, but the part that separates 'art' from 'dressage horse production' is what lies beneath.
This brings me to the most important success of yesterday: The understanding that it is far more important for us, as riders, to be good students than to be good riders. As good students, we are proud to learn the standard, memorize it, repeat it and give credit to where it evolved from. We understand the beginning, the end, and can visualize the future. Sometimes we stumble upon something, but we back it up with why, how, and to what end. We back up our discovery with fact.
On the other hand, the goal for students is to become a good rider (with varying definitions of the theme). For some, it comes through winning, some through pleasing the peanut gallery, some through being able to stand out in a sea of black and white in the warm up ring, and some through just knowing that it is easier to ride their horse this week than it was three months' worth of lessons ago.
The great divide between being a student is that one is constant and shows committment, and a logical approach to a big picture. The other is just relative to whoever is watching. And that idea is this week's MOST IMPORTANT THING.