The Naming

The Naming

Not just anyone can name you. Often times our first name is given by our parents. It seems only right that our mother and father who have brought us into the world should have the first right to place their seal and connect their authority through the use of name. Often the second people to rename us are the peers within our group. There is often a hint of teasing and jostling for position connected to these renamings within our American youth culture. In many native cultures renaming is connected to a coming of age ceremony, through which one learns or acknowledges their personal role within the society. It is usually connected to their personal giftings by the Great Spirit or the recognized deity within that culture. In the Bible there are stories of renaming that are usually connected to a change of situation, personality or character. When women marry often there is a change in name associated with the change in position in life.

My renaming was attempted by many. There were the kids who tried to tack their labels on me. Some stuck with pricks sharp enough to motivate change. This led to a struggle that wounded the fragile sense of image that I clung to, until the day the Lord began my renaming. I say, began because my renaming was a process that continues on today. First He un-named me. He tore away at all the labels and mis-conceptions that the enemy of our souls had tried, through various means, to adhere to my soul, destroying who God had created me to be. As He stripped back the layers of lies, He began to expose the truth, who I was in Him.
There were a few mentors that the Lord has brought into my life, to speak truth into my soul. This truth speaking drove back the lies and began to break through the hard exterior I had wrapped around my soul, protecting it from the barbs. Strange, how the self-protective methods we use, often keep us from what we need or really desire. One such mentor was Curtis Wright. One day up in Yosemite, among the grandeur of the tower pines, sequoias and maples, Curtis called me by name. Funny, how you can recognize your name, though you had never been called out by it before. From that day on, I have aspired to live up to that name. It is how this blog got its name, Dances with Horses.

Yet, ultimately my most important name is simple. It is found in a possessive pronoun. It would be unidentifiable admist the others who could claim it. Yet, when He calls me by this name all else fads away. Nothing else matters when I truly allow the truth of who I am to settle in to the crevices of my heart. Who am I? Simply, "His."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dressage, gadgets and other confusions...

I have to vent a bit.  So, I was recounting some frustration I have had in the search for a dressage instructor or an eye on the ground so I can continue my riding development on my way to achieving my dreams.  So it brought to mind some other very disturbing memories.  Then I was doing a web search and found a dressage forum that was discussing the use of standing and running martingles.

Now, I expect this type of nonsense and usually I can roll with the punches, but really?  On a dressage forum?  Something has gone hay wire.  It is common place to use draw reins, modified draw reins (run through the caveson and not through the bit), martingles and all sorts of un-classical methods and techniques and call it dressage.  From Rollkur to excessive force these are not dressage!

I must strongly protest.  There are top name professionals within the industry using their name and fame to sell and recommend gadgets to the industry's amateurs.  I must strongly protest!  Any form of force or coercion runs directly contrary to the very nature and philosophy of dressage at it's very core.  The fact that there are top names who win at the shows on the international levels who use these methods does nothing to recommend the blood, sweat and tears that make up real classical dressage.  Rather the industries supposed top names are demonstrating a recommendation that the average amateur can almost not help accepting.  It is a recommendation to take a quick fix, to take the easy route.  It is a slide down a very slippery slope that ends with demanding from the horse a level of discipline that we do not demand from ourselves.

There needs to be a call made among the professionals of the sport to step up and live true to the principles of the art or to stop calling it dressage.  Lets stop playing.  Otherwise we justify the comments made.  I overheard a western pleasure trainer tell one of his students that her western pleasure horse was a second level dressage horse.  Based upon some of the stuff seen in the dressage square, perhaps it is justified.  Come on, step up.  This horse had never been correctly connected from behind and probably had never been ridden forward a day in its life.  Second level?  Second level requires a degree of collection and impulsion and suspension that would forever ruin the way a western pleasure horse is "supposed" to move.

While I am addressing my gripes with the industry, I must also mention the way the dressage industry's rates are through the roof.  If the trainer is worth their salt, by and large the cost to ride one hour under instruction is around $100 or more.  This is what the "classical trainer" charges.  Now, the name "classical" is dressage code for the only truly correct way to ride a horse.  All other ways of riding are inferior.  So what the "classical" instructor is saying, by default, is that only those horses with owners who have enough money "deserve" to be ridden classically.  Really?  Are we more interested in what is for the good of the horse or what is best for our pocketbook?

Now, I understand that there is a class of riders who expect to pay that kind of money, and can afford it.  But what about that teenager who comes and sits at the railing looking longingly.  Dressage trainers and instructors who do ride and train correctly have no room to look down their noses at the way other portions of the horse industry ride while charging so much as to make it unattainable to the average everyday horse enthusiast.

Last but not least is my frustration with instructors who do not fix their riders seats.  Who cares if you can help the rider fix the evasion, if you never help the rider fix the cause.  She can't follow the horse's motion, so lets have her try to make the horse move more forward and with more impulsion, that should help.  Oh she is falling off of the left side of her horse, lets have her ride in a double bridle and work on pirouettes.   Her horse isn't going forward because she is riding in a water ski type position balancing a bit on the rein, lets have her whack her horse in the belly with her leg.  That will teach him.  I wish I could say that I was talking about the local trainer down the road using these methods.  I am not.  I am talking about top international trainers.  Help!

I am not sure I could have ridden any of those horses better then their riders were doing.  In fact, this is part of my problem.  You see, every rider needs an eye on the ground.  I need an eye on the ground.  Yet, I can't find instructors that work to develop the rider.  I know which exercises to work on when my horse does x, y or z but I need someone on the ground to tell me what exercises might be helpful to fix me.  In addition there are the students I have moved away from.  Who do I send those students to?  When the majority of the industry cranks their horses round, how do I make a recommendation when I can no longer be the primary instructor?

The industry's professionals need to step up, because the amateur will never aspire to ride according to the principles of classical dressage while having to wade through the mire of all that is claiming to be dressage but not.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thoughts about Riding Instruction

  Riders are whole beings comprised of body, mind, emotions and spiritual faculties.  As human beings we cannot learn any skill to the true level of art while only learning in one of the above areas.  We must learn in the awareness of who we are. Because our faculties are interconnected what happens in the mind affects directly what happens in the physical realm.  When we are spiritually stagnant there are negative repercussions in all of the other realms.  If we are physically unhealthy and unwhole we bring that to our riding.  It affects the mental ability to think clearly, the emotional ability to stay neutral and self-controlled.  
   We were made to be complete, to be whole in our connection to our Creator.  When we are living severed from the Source of our life, we cannot live out the fulness of our purpose.  We were made to glorify God, living in abandoned adoration of the Maker and Sustainer of the universe.  Anything less than this will leave us with emptiness.  We aspire to fill the void with many things, yet are always endlessly searching.  Until we find Him, who is our Wholeness, we will drift without an anchor.
  The process of learning to ride is a process of self exploration, self revelation and an aspiration toward authentic, transparent living.  To be able to be one with our horses we must first aspire toward entering into an abiding relationship of love with our Maker.  The Maker is the Source of knowledge for loving unity between man and horse.
   We must come face to face with our weakness, our inconsistencies and our need.  It is from a position of humility that we can learn to be servants.  When we come to our horses with love and humility we can learn from our Creator and them.  From this position of humility we can become servant leaders to our horses.  
   Fear and ego are two of the enemies of unity and harmony.  Fear and pride destroy love.  Fear manifests itself in many forms.  We can be afraid physically when working with such a large and powerful creature.  Fear may cause us to seek to control and micromanage in order to feel secure.  We must learn to trust our horses.  Only in a relationship of mutual love, trust and respect can a dance of beauty become the inspiration of poetry, music and art.  We can be afraid of social stigma.  Often the temptation arises to sacrifice the integrity of the art, for fear of being misunderstood by onlookers.  What is in the horse's best interest should motivate the decisions within the training process.  What is in the best interest of the student should motivate the decisions within the lesson program.