By Sally O’Dwyer
“A horse without a rider is still a horse. A rider without a horse is only a person”
The COVID-19 quarantine brought my life to a screeching halt, giving me some much-needed time to think about what really matters. Consciously understanding what I genuinely care about has helped to align my life to do more of what I love.
Always a horse nut, I never really pondered how much I identify with all things equine. I enjoy other activities, but nothing comes close to hanging out with horses and dressage. Conjoined by our love for horses, my dressage pals “get me.” If I tell my family that I am blue because I cannot get out and ride, they say things like, “sounds like a first world problem.” It is impossible to convert non-horsey people—they cannot fathom why we would endure toil, grooming, sweat, flies, mud, extreme weather, expense, time, potential danger, and sacrifices we make.
“Of all animals kept for the recreation of mankind; the horse is alone capable of exciting a passion that shall be absolutely hopeless.” —Bret Harte
Dressage becomes a passion when you become determined, no matter what, to pursue the discipline. You are chasing the dream. The one where you are riding in perfect harmony with your horse and experiencing an exhilaration like no other. As a dressage passionista, you are a seeker of beauty, harmony, and a special connection with your horse. You are constantly discovering a whole new level of complexity. You love the journey, even though the bar is constantly being raised. It is an art, a sport, a science, and a dance with your horse.
Passion serves as a compass, providing clarity, and making decisions easier. When you do what you enjoy most, it makes every day better and your life fuller. As a passionista, you get beyond yourself, learning to overcome fear. Obstacles, challenges, adversity, and barriers are just something to get through. We grow in patience, persistence, and grit. To become great riders, we must look at ourselves truthfully and be aware of our character flaws, weaknesses, and frailties. We are grounded in the relationship with our horse, in the moment, connected through body language. The work is physical, and we are outside. We forget about the other stuff in our lives.
So, now that I have come to the realization that horses are my scene, I will be more intentional in my commitment to riding and learning dressage. While the COVID-19 quarantine might have slowed you down a bit, I hope it gives you the time to ponder your dreams, goals, and passions and that you follow them with all your heart and soul.
About me. I am a passionate, adult amateur dressage rider, living large in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. I have two horses, an Off the Track Thoroughbred, George (chestnut pictured), and Rayme, (the Warmblood I am standing next to.) I also have a couple of fabulous Welsh ponies.
I enjoy learning, competing, and reaching for the stars. I write because I believe we dressage riders need to lift each other up with gigantic buckets of support and love. I hope my blogs help and encourage others to Go For It!