Have you seen the pictures of the Grand Prix riders in the Falsterbo warm up ring wrestling their horses? These are Grand Prix riders, the top of our sport, the riders that know how to passage and piaffe and who should be some the best our sport has to offer. They should be the elite, the ones "in the know." The Masters, the Professionals.....
I, on the other hand, am a student, not a teacher, or trainer or master. And I know that I don't know shit about horses or dressage. But knowing that I don't know, and truly recognizing that might just be the most important thing that I DO know. Because I am open, a sponge soaking in horse and dressage knowledge from any source I can find. I study the true teachers; Podhajsky, Lundqvist, Klimke, Savoie, Morris and the like. I watch western trainers like Brannaman, and learn how to listen and hear my partner. I watch videos from the Olympics in the 60s and 70s looking for softer and more relaxed movements.
I peruse Dressage Facebook pages, and read the advice to issues Pippi and I don't have (right now), and file it away for "some day." For what I reject today, I may use tomorrow. And I reject a lot! A LOT! And then a new issue comes up, and I flip through my mental rolodex and come upon some tidbit or advice, or recall someone I saw and either try it or reject it again. Often I try, and then reject only to perhaps revisit it again. And I ask everyone I know for anything they can tell me. And when they speak I listen, quietly, and sort through what I just heard and decide if this knowledge is for now or later.
I study the USEF rulebook by reading the The Snaffle Squads "one rule per day" at noon every day. Those rules are the perimeters and there is a lot to learn in them. I want to know what the rules actually say, and I want to know the goal of each step.
So when thinking about those riders in the warm up ring I have to wonder if they forgot a lot, or just think that they know. Did they get to such a high level technically that they no longer hear their horses? Did their knowledge drown out their hearts? Do they hear the concerns of the masses, that may not be able to piaffe, or do they just "know" that they know better. They are the best after all, so why should they still have to learn? Just because they know how to make a horse pirouette, do they know how to ask a horse to pirouette? A gaggle of riders, at the highest level, warming up together, do they show off to one another and feed off each other, and let their ambitions get the better of them? Are they honest with themselves, or do they know better than the rest of us "what it takes" for the horse to work at that level?
I am just happy that I don't know shit. It makes me question everything, search for answers and it makes me curious. The greatest barrier to learning and growing as a rider is thinking that I already know. I mean.... even I know that!