To ride dressage is to dance with your horse, equal partners in the delicate and sometimes difficult work of creating harmony and beauty.

Monday, October 29, 2018


For the first time in a long time, I got to immerse myself in dressage this weekend. I happily hung out with horse friends and enjoyed watching some superb equines, even though it made me wistful for what once was. It seems a lifetime ago when I  advanced my skills with regular clinics and/or lessons, trained and competed with an equine partner, braided mane and wore tall boots, even won awards. Even harder is not knowing if those things will ever be a part of my life again. (I may forever stay one score away from my USDF Silver Medal....)

Saturday night was the Oregon Dressage Society awards banquet and silent auction. I picked up my friend Kate and we joined other members of our local chapter (which kindly paid for our weekend's activities) – and not a whole lot of others! The food was good, the awardees were inspiring (some of them amazingly so), the silent auction provided some great shopping (I got a long-sleeved ODS t-shirt, a fleece ODS vest, a fleece ODS headband, and an ODS magnet for my trailer), and the keynote speaker, Olympian Lisa Wilcox, made me eager to attend the next day's activities.

on the way to Kate's house
So early Sunday morning I picked up Kate again and we headed through beautiful countryside to Whip & Spur Farm, once the home and training facility of Rich Fellers, another Olympian (in Show Jumping). There we got to watch as Lisa taught eight different horse/rider combinations with a consistent message of keeping a correct position and posture while making a million and one transitions – within each gait, not between them. You could tell she was taught by a 29-year veteran of the Spanish Riding School, where students sometimes spend years without reins or stirrups, perfecting their own position in order to be able to properly influence their horse's way of going.
at Whip & Spur

I took photos of all eight horses, but video of only two, so I decided to only keep and share photos of the two I filmed. Both of these horses were poetry in motion, the chestnut a five-year-old filly (ridden by a young trainer Kate won two lessons with in the silent auction), and the other a 12-year-old gelding.

Events like this always inspire me to go home and dance with my own horse – so I did! By the time I got Lance saddled the sun had set, so we walked up the hill to capture this photo before going back to the arena to dance.
 Our schooling session felt good, and Lance ended with a foamy mouth, always a good sign.
Even if we never set foot again in a show arena, we can dance!


Michelle said...

Alanna, one of the horses was a cute little Welsh pony mare!

marlane said...

Hi Michelle
I am not sure if you follow this blog
It is great for experiencing training a horse for dressage and not having to do it yourself.

Terry said...

I'm auditing a freestyle clinic this weekend. There's something about sitting in someone else's indoor and having the time to absorb what the trainer is saying. No stress being mounted! By the way, love how Lance's bridle fits - that nice, not tight, noseband. I think we use the same bit. A bean?

Michelle said...

Thanks for the link, Marlane! I do admit to enjoying DOING the training very much, but it is good to watch others and I would LOVE to have "eyes on the ground" more often..

Thanks, Terry; the noseband is loose enough that I can slip the bridle on and off without unfastening it. The bit is a Herm Sprenger in German silver and yes, it has a bean. Love the eggbut; no pinching. Don't think they make that version anymore – at least I haven't been able to find it!

Terry said...

Loose rings are way more popular right now, but Tonka had too much fun moving it around :) He keeps his mouth quieter with the egg butt. You can find this bit, but it takes some looking, and sizing isn't easy - I returned two before I found the right one.

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