Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

To show or not to show, that is the question!

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 10, 2009

Dancer's Father

Dancer's Father, Warkant

The world of horses is vast with many different ways for a horse owner to enjoy his animal.  I ride in the English style; more specifically, I practice the art of dressage.  In French, dressage means “training.”  In common terms, it is often referred to as “ballet on horseback.”  For me, dressage is about creating the ultimate partnership between myself and my horse.  It is mysterious and subtle, yet the results can be dramatic.  It is extremely difficult and forges a well-developed equine athlete.  But, according to my husband (a non-horse person), watching dressage is like watching grass grow.  This is probably especially true at lower levels where a rider might spend most of an hour-long riding lesson riding in a small circle around the instructor.

I am content to practice this discipline in the comfort of my home stable.  I do not feel the need to validate my progress by taking Dancer to a horse show and competing against other horses and riders.   In fact, I feel quite the opposite emotion – showing is quite nerve-wracking to me.  So, I have steered well clear of the topic by developing a list of reasons why I don’t show:

1.) It is expensive.

2.) I would have to buy special clothing (for me and for my horse).

3.) It is a lot of extra work – cleaning tack, bathing the horse, braiding its mane.

4.) You have to give up a whole Saturday to do it, and I have other things to do on Saturdays.

5.) I don’t want to cause my horse unnecessary stress.

6.) I am scared of it.

The stable where I keep Dancer is a very active show barn.  There is a group going somewhere almost every weekend.  Usually, these are jumping competitions, and as I do not jump, I haven’t felt much pressure to come along.  But, recently, the barn owner approached me and convinced me to go to a dressage only show with them.  Yikes!  How did that happen?  She systematically broke down my barriers one by one:

1.) It isn’t very expensive, as it is a local dressage schooling show. 

2.) I don’t have to buy special clothing, because it is a schooling show.

3.) It is some extra work, but my horse needs baths anyway and my tack should be clean all the time, right?

4.) It is local, so we won’t have to drive far to get there.  Going to this show will not consume more than the normal amount of time I have currently been spending at the barn on a Saturday.

5.) My horse has proven that traveling in the trailer to strange places does not stress her out.  In fact, she is so relaxed when we take her to Auburn to have her eyes checked, that she falls asleep during the exam.  No drugs required!

So, now we are just left with #6.  I am still scared of it.  There is nothing anyone can say that can really take that away. What do I think will happen?  Well…I am not sure.  I don’t really care about winning or losing.  And, in fact, I would welcome the chance to have some critical feedback.  I would like to know the areas where Dancer and I could use improvement.  I know we are suffering without the benefit of instruction here in Alabama.  The good thing about dressage competitions is that each rider performs individually, riding a test with pre-assigned movements.  The judge assigns a score from 1-10 for each of the movements.  He or she can also make comments on your score sheet.  That can be very helpful, but it also puts you out there. 

I don’t really want to hear anything negative about my horse.  I guess in that way, I am a protective mother hen.  Conversely, it would be even worse to hear: “this horse is too nice for you – let someone who knows what she is doing ride this animal.  You don’t belong here.”  I guess that would be the worst that could happen.


One Response to “To show or not to show, that is the question!”

  1. Lori said


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