It’s hard to help non-horse people understand the soul sharing/the bond that you have with your horse and all that you learn from them.
I first rode when I was nine for about a year. I took a 10 year break because I wanted to jump and mom said no, so I quit. What was I thinking? At 19 I had my own car and my own money so back to the horses I ran. Now I could learn to jump. And I did, along with competing in a few local shows. I did not have a good trainer, all he did was yell at me and make me feel bad. I took to riding at 6:30 a.m. to avoid him so I could be happy with my horse. After a year I moved to Hawaii for college and tried to keep riding but without a car and my own horse it was not easy so I stopped.
Fast forward thirty years….I am divorced, overweight, and unhappy. While walking one day with a friend (that had horses) I mentioned how once I lost 100 pounds I would go back to riding. What she said stopped me in my tracks and changed my life forever; “You know Lynn, men ride horses too and some weigh more than you!” For some reason I had never thought of this, I was only picturing the perfect female athlete that I saw in the magazines.
I began searching for a barn that would take an overweight, 30 years out of the saddle, older female. I made phone calls and sent emails……no one would respond to me. I mentioned this to a friend at church and she said I should contact the barn where her daughter rides. I sent an email and hoped for a response. I heard back within 24 hours! I was assured that there was a horse just for me, Gus. That was April 2010 that I walked into N Joy Arabians and met my trainer Joyce Thomas.
In the beginning I told Joyce that I wanted to get back to jumping again and after a few lessons, so she could gauge where my skills were, I began over some raised poles during lessons. Yet, I didn’t feel like that was the direction I really wanted to go. I didn’t feel the excitement I did in my younger years. I remembered hearing about Dressage once and as I learned more about it I told Joyce that was the direction I wanted to go. And so began my foundational training.
I still have a lot to learn at the foundational level (see my post: Trying Something New) and that is okay. Dressage takes years to learn and I have the time and the patience.
Dressage is not just a riding discipline, it is a way of learning to communicate with your horse with very subtle muscle movements and the energy of your thoughts. Dressage teaches you balance, kindness, patience, forgiveness, the importance of being present, leadership, empowerment, confidence, and much more. Dressage teaches you about life!
I am grateful to be riding again, to have a kind and thoughtful trainer (who I think can read my mind!), and a good horse that I am leasing who is very patient with me as we learn Dressage together. I am also grateful to my supportive and encouraging barn family. Oh, and a great side benefit of riding (and eating healthier): I lost a lot of weight!
Life is good!
Here is a great post on The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Dressage Riders. After that you will want to read her post Empowering Women Through The Study Of Dressage.