I’ve long believed that a person’s interest in a given subject is very largely influenced by one’s teacher. It comes as little surprise that because of my trainer’s enthusiasm for dressage, I’m now realizing that I can like it too. Up until this point, I had adopted the same view as those I had surrounded myself with: that flat work is something to get through in order to do the fun part – jumping! In fact, when first starting out in eventing, I really didn’t like the idea of dressage – it seemed too similar to saddleseat. I’d had enough of just going around in an arena. It seemed too subjective. With jumping, you either go clean or you don’t.
Now I wonder how my previous notions could have been so off. I had no idea what dressage really called for. The buzzwords were so similar to saddleseat concepts, that I didn’t comprehend their new meanings. But now I view dressage as its own unique challenge, and I’m really enjoying it. As the USEA “This is Eventing” video describes it, it’s like ballroom dancing.
In fact, I find myself really looking forward to my dressage lessons. I’ve had two this week, and I’d go for two more if I could! It could be that I now have my own dressage saddle (and it’s quite comfortable), and that I’m feeling particularly challenged by my new trainer and I want to improve. I’ve discovered that I’m allowed to like dressage. And I know I can learn to love it. To be completely honest, though, I don’t think I’ll love it until I consider myself proficient in it. I was the same way about math. ;)
If you currently don’t like dressage (especially if you’re new to the sport) – find a trainer or clinician who does. It will greatly increase your enjoyment of our sport. Dressage may only be one-third of the competition, but the scores very strongly impact the placing. Loving the challenge will be more empowering when the results are posted. You won’t feel like a victim of dressage.