The year winding to its close in a flurry of parties and family and (at least here in Vermont) snow often inspires nostalgic glances back while perhaps ambitious resolutions are cast forward. It is a time when those of us who ride or work with horses on a regular basis may evaluate goals met (or not), consider the steps gained with a particular project and where they’ll lead in the months ahead, or perhaps ponder the role that horses play in our lives now, and the one we’d wish for them in the future.
In her book COLLECTIVE REMARKS, FEI and USEF dressage judge Anne Gribbons shares how competing on horseback eventually came to hold less importance, as the satisfaction of figuring out each individual horse while adding to her own “pool of knowledge” gained significance. At TSB, we aim to support those who spend their lives striving to learn more about horses, to appreciate different approaches from different disciplines and schools of philosophy, and to consider new ideas while respecting the tried-and-true of classical equestrianism. As we add to our own “pool of knowledge,” we hope we have a chance to add to yours, too.
All orders from the TSB online bookstore placed before noon on Thursday, December 18, ship FREE in the US in time for Christmas.
“Full Circle” from COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons
When I was a kid and started riding, competition was the farthest thing from my mind. All I wanted was to be around horses, to breathe in their wonderful sweet smell—to me more exhilarating than any other fragrance on earth—and to touch their velvety coat, to look into their sad and all-knowing eyes. Riding them was a privilege and a joy beyond anything else I could desire. In short, I was just like any other horse-crazy kid in the world. Years later, my whole life became involved with horses, and with serious training arrived the need for competition; the fire it lit in my blood was a whole new aspect of riding. Jumping and eventing keeps you on your toes, but even dressage can be exciting when there is a good class and you have a long-term goal in mind.
Today, after many years of competing and after obtaining some of those goals, I must admit that I look at showing differently. The few minutes in the ring still makes my blood run faster (although the reasons may vary from joy to alarm), but the rest of the scene can appear as just “more of the same.” The planning, packing, traveling, loading, fussing, waiting, re-packing, and traveling again is a lot of work, and when I think of all the weekends in my life that were absorbed by horse shows, I sometimes wonder about my sanity….
After all this time, I have almost returned to base. Although, thankfully, more experienced, I am back in the mode where I am totally satisfied staying at home with my horses. The training, which has always been the true motivation for diligently showing up at the barn every day, is the constant that never becomes monotonous, uninteresting, or exactly the same two days in a row. It would be impossible to stay inspired while training horses but for the fact that every single horse has something new to offer, which gives you reason to add to your pool of knowledge and meet the challenge of dealing with that specific individual.
My triumphs today are not measured in ribbons and scores, but in the satisfaction of having a day when a horse who had a problem suddenly catches on and performs a movement with ease, or a particular sequence of exercises feel just like you know they should: no tension, no resistance, and no effort, just horse and rider gliding together. The ultimate satisfaction is to look at a horse you have known from the time he was broken and watch him grow more beautiful every year because of the building of his muscles and strength. The finished, happy, and sound Grand Prix horse is a work of art, and all the time it took to bring him there is well worth it. Things of quality take time, and your trained horse does not have to go to the Olympics to give you an enormous amount of pride and joy in your accomplishments together.
COLLECTIVE REMARKS is available now from the TSB online bookstore.