Lessons From Wellington

Moonrise at the Global Dressage Festival

Moonrise at the Global Dressage Festival

If it is January, you can bet 2 things are going to happen in my life.  One is that I will be attending the FEI Trainer’s Conference held at the lovely Mary Anne McPhail’s Farm located in Loxahatchee, Florida.  The second is that I will be attending at least one show at the Global Dressage Festival. 

As I have attended both of these events on a regular basis I’m generally not surprised by what I see: quality horses ridden by outstanding riders.  This year both events had a profound impact on my dressage perspective.

Last year was an Olympic year.  Whether due to that, or the fact that this was the first CDI of the year, or the economy; the sheer number of rider/horse combinations was down. But, the quality seemed to have been distilled and only the best of the best was there.

I’m used to seeing world class riders riding the Grand Prix.  What I’m not so used to is seeing the like of Jacqueline Brooks of Canada riding a 3rd or 4th level test.  It is good to remember that everyone at some time in their lives has been in the same spot that I am in.  What I realized over the 7 days I was in Florida; is how I really need to know this. 

In so many ways I’ve been on the right track.  I don’t clinic with many people.  My coach and I have been together for over a decade.  Where I have been letting myself down and thus my horse(s) is that I haven’t really followed through.  I’ve settled for too little thinking that was all they had to give.  I’ve stopped asking too soon.  I needed to be even more precise and exacting about what I want.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea.  I didn’t come home and start bashing my horses.  Quite the opposite.  I’ve been ever so much clearer in my aids.  I’m able to make a change in the balance from one step to the next.  I feel that I am now proactive instead of reactive.  I’ve seen immediate improvement in all the horses I ride and as I impart my new knowledge to my students they are having more success in their rides.

I’m already thinking about my next trip to view world class riders and horses.  I don’t want to let too much time pass before I educate myself again.  Whether it is a return trip to Wellington, or the Young Horse Championships at Lamplight I’m not sure.  I do know another trip is in the works though.

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