It looks likes it’s going to be another blogging year. My first attempt at blogging brought many unexpected results and events. Some of the changes brought about feelings of pride and a sense of self-worth. Other changes, while still enlightening, forced reflection on aspects of dressage, or organized horse-sport in general, that I had never before contemplated. While I feel overloaded with ideas to blog about, my less naive side now worries that every story will read as either self-aggrandizing, cynical or sales pitchy. When these feelings start making me avoid the vulnerability of writing this blog my new inspiration is to go back to the relationship between the rider and the horse, a relationship without angles or agendas. Following is a letter from a student that I received about a year ago. When the distractions of competition, politics and profits get me down, letters like this one, and others from students past bring me back to that concept of what “success” in the “horse industry” means to me.
This is published with permission from the author. Thanks Jess, your unabashed sincerity humbles me.
“I hate writing, I love to have written.” Dorothy Parker
Writing this blog, originally a writing exercise imposed upon me by my roommate, an avid birder that blogs daily at thebirdhousechick.com, has brought about many unexpected benefits and pleasures to my life. While it sometimes seems like a chore to sit down and torture myself with self-doubt and criticism just to get three paragraphs completed, once it is finished I feel a sense of relief and am usually inspired for my next topic.
In addition to the cathartic experience of sharing issues that are dear to me I have met so many other bloggers, and many other riders that stumble across the writings and share their comments and insights. Some of them are professional trainers and many of them amateur riders that are passionate about their journey with riding. Without the global reach of the world-wide web I would never have met these kindred souls that share my love of dressage or horses in general. The comments and e-mail I receive as a result of my small blog have inspired me and made me feel part of a community in which I have never felt included.
It was a great surprise and admittedly a source of confusion when I received an e-mail from Frances Keller, an organizer from the historic and distinguished Dressage at Devon horse show. The correspondence was an invitation to attend Devon as an “expert commentator” for the Prix St. George class held in the famous “Dixon Oval”. My first response was that the e-mail must have been sent to me inadvertently so I replied to Ms. Keller to inquire why I had been included in the group of experts that featured top judges and top competitors from across the United States. It seems she came across my website and blog while looking for Scott Peterson, a great trainer I have listed on my resume’. After reading the site Ms. Keller invited me to be a commentator as she felt that some of the listeners may relate to my point of view as a contrast to the great judges they have scheduled to speak. I am very humbled by the invitation and hope that her instincts prove correct.
Although I am nervous about the prospect of speaking to such a large audience without the time to edit and rewrite that I am afforded by writing a blog, I am more afraid of “flinching out” on an opportunity to be included in such an esteemed panel at such a dignified event. So Thursday I board the plane to face my fears and hopefully offer a perspective that remains true to myself and resounds with others.
If any of my fellow blogging friends, or others that follow the blog are going to be in attendance at Devon please let me know so we can finally meet. I consider you all part of my journey and wouldn’t be included if it weren’t for your kind words and inspiration.
“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“.