But what’s your real job?

“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“.

Interesting website with history of horsemanship

Article on Xenophon’s “On the Art of Horsemanship”

Article “Dressage, How it all Began!

9 thoughts on “But what’s your real job?

  1. The horses of the world thank you and all who care for them at a time when it is more difficult to be a horse or horse trainer! Great blog!

  2. Yes, dressage has changed from the military training to just a sport. I blame Xenophon. Well, sort of. It’s not entirely his fault. He WANTED to write a book “The art of war on horses” but it was censored by the government, so he caved under pressure and wrote “On the art of horsemanship”. This book has shaped the direction of modern dressage. Because of his momentary weakness dressage has become a non-contact sport. Oh, wait.. It’s hunter-jumper. Dressage is supposed to be a contact sport, but only the contact with the horse is allowed. If Xenophon wrote what he wanted to write we would be competing in a nice violent way, bloodying our opponent’s nose in shoulder-in and making them retreat in travers. Then, victory pirouette and halt-salute! I say it’s time for change! To Arms!

    1. Hmmm… it didn’t shape the direction very quickly as there were hundreds of years of warfare on horseback after his writings. We can only speculate on what he would have written because if it was not written that’s all it would be speculation. Have you read any passages from what he did write? The violence seems to be directed towards people not horses. That’s ok with me. If people choose to engage in warfare that is unfortunate. His writings may indicate that he intended violence towards people, but not towards the horses. Clever twist but a twist nonetheless!

    1. Besides, Oliver Twist was good at stealing, not fighting. Come to think of it.. being good with your fingers will make you great with half-halts. And that spells high level dressage. I think like it.

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