Saturday, March 13, 2010

101 Things: Number 95 Many roads of Rome

I had the pleasure of sitting down to dinner about a week ago with a few USEF official-friends who were in town on business. Collectively sitting at the table was at least 80 years of dressage experience.

These individuals saw the foundation (and actively participated in founding) of the USDF, the L Program, were active FEI riders, still active coaches, and have brought along the best and brightest the industry has to offer. While the conversations ran many directions, it inevitably led to the state of the union of dressage stateside.

The individuals at the table have seen many forms of dressage, good, bad and every shade in between. They have seen abuse, and riding at it's finest. It was a hugely enjoyable experience listening to them.

One of them had the pleasure of seeing the major schools train on a tour of Europe. The Portuguese, Vienna, Samure, Jerez, German, Swedish and Dutch/Netherlands schools, all very different, with different individuals, styles, and different methods to achieve their goals. But all producing the same product: the Grand Prix horse.

Lately, the word 'classical' has become a blanket term in dressage. You frequently hear classically-bred, classically trained, classically-rode, classical-this or that when you frequent forums, conversations or dressage circles. Classical in America, has taken a life of it's own. It's become a selling point without a basic understanding of what it is.

Due to that lack of understanding, many tout one school of thought or method over another, sometimes ad nauseum.

As a dressage rider, disregard the labels.

Any method, wonderful, good, bad or horrible is something you can learn from. Look at it, look at what individuals it is used with, how it is used, digest it and move with it. Learn what and why it works for an individual, take it, and use it. Or don't.

All roads, no matter how long, lead to Rome. There is no main one that is ultimately correct for everyone, but, because the end is just the same, we, as riders must learn to accept and utilize .  It is this understanding that breaks down barriers and creates a richer, more diverse community of riders and teachers and only seeks to better the sport in the long run.


Golden the Pony Girl said...

if I could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation!

I like your point about taking everything; the good and the bad processing and incorporating and moving on. I think that is a wise sentiment. Dressage is a complicated sport and the dressage rider is always learning. I think when you take one method or trainer's "way", for granted with out questioning you are taking the easy way out. You have to find your own path, and decide for yourself what works. I will have some thoughts to mill over at breakfast now! thanks

Austen said...

What you wrote made me think of my favorite saying "Just Ride". You can think and over process and over analyze, but I have found that I get further if you just experiment and just ride.

Also, I am totally jealous of your conversation!