For me, dressage can actually be far more scary than hunting. (My OTTB makes sure of that.) It doesn’t feel great when your horse has a complete and utter tantrum when you insist he respect the outside rein, or when you get about 3ft of lateral steps when trying to leg yield across the arena. Even if you can gallop a 3ft coop or navigate a ditch that would make most DQs pee their pristine white breeches, dressage can make you doubt you have any riding ability at all.
So when I came across Lucy McKeown’s Stressage Stories blog, I knew had found a kindred spirit. She is a young UK-based rider and writer who covers her dressage adventures and the psychology behind success. We’re doing a little exchange where we ask and answer the same 3 questions:
Describe how dressage makes you feel in 3 words
Dedicated, inspired and elegant
What are your favorite parts of your sport?
Firstly the satisfaction of nailing a certain movement. Knowing that you have set the horse up ready to be able to dance and move effortlessly underneath you
Which leads me to my next favorite… the feeling that my horse starts to relax and trust me. The correct communication just feels like magic (even though we all know it actually comes from a lot of hard work!)
Are there any common misconceptions in dressage that you want to clear up?
A common misconception of dressage is that it is elitist and only for those with loads of money and the fanciest horses. However dressage is french for the word training and so this training can benefit any horse and rider no matter who they are.
There is also the misconception that it isn’t fun and friendly. I have noticed quite the opposite. So many people know the struggles of the sport and want to encourage you.
Have you or do you ever suffer with nerves and if so, what are your top tips?
I do get nervous a lot. Especially for big competitions. My top tips would be to view nerves as excitement (your body does the same things in response), plan loads (and plan some more… Then accept that there will be some things beyond your control, so make sure your plan is focused on what you can do and what solutions you can bring to the table.