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A First Dressage Show Experience

I’ll admit it. I was a bit of an elitist.

Dressage, a French word meaning “training”, is what I did and do. Train, train, train.

Not only in dressage, but Muay Thai and strength training.

Especially with horses, we may get taught along the way, by other elitists, that it’s in the best interest of the horse to not compete. My “concern” was simply for the well-being of the horse. Now, I am not so certain that was entirely my motive. Ok, I’m convinced it wasn’t.

Competing has a way of focusing us and making certain we are training toward a goal. Your horse may not care about the specific goal, but he does seem motivated to please his rider.

For him, it may not matter much whether the circle is 12 meters or 15 meters. However, how many times are we not as precise as we should be when training? We convince ourselves that it’s in his best interest not to care.

I’m no longer convinced.

And, if it is of little consequence to the horse, why not be a bit more precise? So long as we are respectful of our requests, there is no loss to the horse. If we are a little stronger with our requests, there is still little loss, and perhaps much gain. These are, after all, first-world problems. Many of our horses lead better lives in terms of their feeding, need for water, socialization and medical attention than many people throughout the world. In fact, I would say that given a horse’s desire for socialization and food and fun, this training and focus is a good thing.

My horse seemed to relish in the show experience.

Why are endless days in a stall, or out in the field so much better? Is it not better for any cognizant being to have his mind and physical being challenged.

There are countless people who would have us believe differently.

Perhaps that’s simply because they themselves should not be challenged in any way. And, that’s fine; that’s their choice.


So, my first dressage show began. I prepped for training level and then was told (a week before) that since my horse was competing at other higher levels, that I needed to compete at a level higher than what I originally thought.

I took it in stride trying to stream what I had read in “The Art of Grace: On Moving Well Through Life”. Day One went fine taking second place. Day Two showed an increased score, and second place as well. My trainer was pleased; I was too.

It’s true, I do really just want to train. Tests are a good thing though. Measuring where we are makes us better riders, and better too, I think, for our horses.

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