Had my first dressage lesson today with a dressage purist who looked like she wanted to cancel the lesson when she saw me and my horse: Me, wearing riding leggings and a t-shirt, and beat up trail boots. My horse? A Quarter Horse. Tacked up in a Western saddle. In a Western bridle. With English reins. Even my daughter was embarrassed. But not me. My eggplant purple pants were in the same color family as my mare’s lavender polo wraps, so all was well in my world.
As we made our way into the arena, got more funny looks from the others at the barn. Ignored them, and did my thing. My mare was a frickin' superstar---moving out at a trot I didn't even know she had, rounding to the bit as I "pushed my hips to her mouth" and softening to contact. We ended drenched in sweat, her neck low and long, both of us almost euphoric. No more funny looks from the instructor or barn help...My mare and I walked out as proud as we walked in, just more "educated." I am now duly informed and am excited to put to use the new tools Judy gave me.
If you had asked me even a year ago if a dressage lesson would have ever been something I might ever take or even be prepared to take, I might have laughed it off as an absolute impossibility!
I always loved the spontaneous, sporty activities with horses: trail rides, liberty work, team penning, polo...But, in starting my first two young horses in 2015, I began to study horsemanship in true detail, with perseverance and a detective's eye for mentors whose teachings and example offered authenticity, lasting value, principles (and not just band-aids or cutesy tricks), and ideals that mirrored my own. As a result, I have found myself moving ever closer to wanting to be the best rider I can be while offering my horses the best "deal"--relaxation, balance, rhythm, suppleness, health, and longevity.
Will I be a fierce dressage competitor? Doubtless. But will my horses and I benefit from this kind of instruction? Absolutely.
But, and this is important, the timing is right. And I have taken the time to get it so. More than two years of foundation building are now bearing fruit.
Thanks to the amazing mentors that have brought me to this point, my horses are ready for me to add tools to their toolbox. There was no resistance from my mare today, not even for an instant. She was engaged, curious, seeking. I could almost cry just thinking about our ride! I could see that she felt there was a "different Ponti Kriti" on her back, and she knew I was trying to do things that would benefit her—she was “WITH” me and willing to try what I was asking her. Willing to figure out what my new cues were asking for.
Taking this lesson with her today made all the hard work I’ve spent doing groundwork, practicing relaxation after stress, going for walks, and training her worth it ten times over. As I walked her to the trailer, she emanated pride, confidence, satisfaction. Maia just amazes me. It is humbling to have such a horse.
I am feeling ever so grateful to Warwick Schiller, Patrick King, Peggy Cummings, Julie Goodnight , Ariana Sakaris, Sharon Wilsie, Mary Miller Jordan, and many more for teaching me ever so much and putting me smack dab on the best path for this fascinating journey. And to Barb in Ohio, for breeding and starting Maia, the magnificent mare, with such care. And to Judy, for the lesson today.
So…dressage lessons for an older housewife-cum-retired polo player? Bring them on!