“What else do you do?” Hmmmm….that’s it I guess. The ever-present jodphers and boots make my job a frequent topic in the grocery store line. Horse training as a primary occupation seems to baffle the average Krogerer. In Europe the job seems to carry a little more respect, it seems. I think it may be because the importance of the horse is more visible in a continent that has more reminders of a time when a well-trained horse and riding skills were a critical part of everyday life. This was true in America’s beginnings as well, of course, but there are few reminders of the days of war ponies and wagon trains in most modern American cities.
Dressage, unfortunately, has gone down a seemingly aesthetic path. This was not always the case and I hope dressage can remain the dignified art form that it is, while still existing as a practical blueprint for horse training for any purpose. Most people, I’m afraid, think of dressage only as it relates to competition. It’s history, as training for war horses, has been mostly replaced with images of riders in tuxedos and top hats. These formal competitions have evolved from tests whose standards were originally set by military horses. See USDF Dressage History In addition to carrying soldiers, horses were also used in warfare to pull cannons, supplies, etc.
The first person believed to have written about dressage had no idea that the top hat and tails would eventually emerge. Practicality was key in 360 BC when Xenophon wrote “On the Art of Horsemanship”. Much of what was written at that time rings true today. The trappings are different, but the horses haven’t changed. So when people ask me if horse training is all I do, I consider how civilization owes so much to this generous animal and proudly answer “yes, thats all“.