Why choose classical dressage?
This is a piece of advice I regularly give out and do try to live by. So when I realised I wanted something different from my riding and for my horse I decided to have a try at something completely new to me.
I am 35 years old and have ridden since the age of four. I was one of those ‘horse mad’ children and did everything I could to just be around horses. I worked for rides, helped other people and spent most of my weekend at the riding stables just to be with the horses. At 11 I began a full loan of a beautiful welsh cob. She was 21 when I took her on but she had plenty to teach me! By the time I was 13 I had outgrown her and my parents, mainly to stave off my obvious depression, bought me a handsome hunter whom I loved and cherished until university commitments meant I needed to give him up.
Twelve years passed before I was in the position to allow horses back into my life; I hasten to add this was due to external pressures which were eventually dissolved. I went back for lessons but desperately missed the relationship with a horse so sort a part loan. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience but it just saw to reignite the fire inside me that burnt to be with a horse of my own.
Enter stage left… Sidney, my 15hh, heavyweight, traditional cob (quite different from the hunter I had set out to find myself!). I bought him as a backed three and a half year old who was a blank canvas. I adored him from the moment I met him; he has incredible character and the cobby squeal he let out as evasion to being lunged sold him instantly to my heart. He is my equine soul mate.
We have been together nearly three years. I have taken things very slow schooling wise but have ensured he has been out and seen the world. He has been showing, to the beach, cross country, dressage and all manner of other places, ably assisted by my ever suffering husband. In February this year we began our school work in Ernest. The summer before he had suffered a bone chip and had had arthroscopy at Leahurst which was successful and after his recuperation he has been sound ever since. I cannot thank the wonderful staff at the equine hospital for all that they did. We found a wonderful instructor who really brought us on. She helped us to overcome many of our frustrations and helped us believe that a career in dressage may not be complete pie in the sky. Sadly my trainer returned to Germany and we were left to our own devices.
As time passed we were becoming more and more frustrated. Schooling was becoming a tug of war between the pair of us with me often suffering from neck and back ache after riding due to having to balance and hold all 600 kilos of my boy up through his front end. I knew something had to change so I began the search for a new trainer. I researched instructors in my area and was intrigued when I found the website of Susan Mcbane. Her philosophy on horsemanship seemed to align perfectly with my own and so I asked if she would be willing to take Sid and myself on.
She agreed and so began our journey …