Sunday, February 15, 2009

Old school

I'm taking a break from the usual updates to address something that has been rumbling in the back of my mind.

Not too long ago, I had enough dressage theory beat in to me via dressage judge and schoolmaster. A lot, if not all remains strong.

In my teenage years, I was a strong, capable, headstrong, fearless rider. I'm still strong (mind and body), I'm still capable, I just have a little bit more fear of God instilled in me and much more experience beyond a trained horse.

When I started the sport, I had my reins and my stirrups taken away and I was kept on the lunge for a solid year. Eventually I schooled up to fourth with enough collection to do PSG on said schoolmaster (with stirrups and reins), and in the end, it was well worth the time spent. I understood much more of the fundamentals than if I didn't take the time.

I found out that the basics never go out of style.

Despite being a product of the old-school German system, I'll admit that I dabbled across the boarder to the French ideals. In the end, I'm still a general product of the German school of thought and scale.

Recently there have been flair ups here and there with the blogs I visit and the whole classical versus modern dressage ideals. Discussions like this usually put the two head schools (French and German) not only at odds with each other, and usually involve lots of evoking of the old Gods, random examples, experiments in physics and the e-word: emotions.

The world is changing in my sport, it has been for the past 10 years due to the advancement of technology and access to information. Things the ODG's wouldn't really would have seen coming, or have expected, but would have strived to incorporate anyways.

With the flood of info and debunk, people are becoming confused, using, trying, incorporating new ways in the sport. They're looking for a universal answer for all horses. Some successful and some are epic fails. But still they try no less.

Technology has busted some pretty big myths recently and it's only going to get more interesting as the years wax on. I honestly look forward to a lot of this because it not only provides my geeky side cool stuff to play with, but helps me expand as a rider and trainer.

In my ten plus years as a dressage rider, and twenty plus years as "just a rider" I've found that no one school of thought is the be all end all of producing a top competitor and that very few methods that are truly "wrong" or "evil". Like raising a child, it takes a village.

It is our responsibility as riders, trainers, and people to use the tools/methods at our disposal responsibly, to recognize when certain tools are not for every horse (that every horse is not the same), but beyond our capabilities. It is our responsibility to try to incorporate different things, ideals and try to understand why certain methods work or don't work for certain people and horses. Its important to learn and ride adjustably, learn to recongize the elements of a "good outline" in different horses, but what it feels like.

But above all, we must learn to be open minded. That, for a lack of a better saying, there are many roads to Rome, and no one way is the right way. To close out without fully understanding is not only short sighted but, defeatist and does no one any good in the end.

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