The simplest way to describe my approach is: “To Find Joy”!
As we progress through our training, instruction, and learning processes we can get mired in frustration and competitiveness, and forget the reason we may have begun our journey in the first place: To find harmony and enJOY our horse(s) while we learn and progress our training.
Dressage (a French term), most commonly translates to mean “training”. Dressage has developed over time to become a highly competitive equestrian sport, defined by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI – FÉDÉRATION EQUESTRE INTERNATIONALE) as “the highest expression of horse training”, where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”
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, the horse will respond smoothly to a skilled rider’s minimal aids. The rider will be relaxed and appear effort-free while the horse willingly performs the requested movement (harmony).
This is both attainable and worth pursuing IMHO, however, we would all be served well when we get ourselves into areas of frustration to remind ourselves that not only does dressage require the ability to learn, discipline, and dedication from the rider; it also involves a horse with individual attributes, ability, and personality to consider; and that the best way for dressage to be learned and absorbed is methodically, over time, utilizing a progressive model that will build both you and your horse up to enable you to more easily understand and perform the movements while remaining balanced, supple and in harmony – for a joyful result both in and out of the competition arena.
I also believe strongly in a hand-on-approach to handling and managing your horse. The best relationships between horse and rider are built from a clear understanding of your horse, from the inside out – and after all, how many times have we heard, “the outside of a horse is the best thing for the inside of a woman”.