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Dressage Talk Is 1! We Look Back At This Year's Best Quotes

A year ago today Dressage Talk went live. When I first launched the blog I wasn't sure if anyone would care, or have an interest in the same stories that I do. I also wondered if anyone would be willing enough to give an interview to a fledgling blog. But to my surprise the dressage community is more generous and connected than I ever realized. Olympian Allison Brock was the first professional to give me an interview before the website was even up. When I received her email back eagerly agreeing to participate I thought she must have read my proposal wrong, confusing Dressage Talk with another, much larger, and already active publication. The surprises continued as I began posting articles and sharing stories that ended up being read by more than just myself, but instead thousands of other dressage riders across the globe ranging from Canada, to South Africa, Spain, and Australia. What I discovered is that no matter where we are, or what level we're riding at, and whether we're on a stunning imported warmblood or a fiery OTTB, as dressage riders and horse lovers we are more similar than we realize. More often than not we are experiencing the same thrills with every painstaking training breakthrough, the same struggles (a Dutch Warmblood can tell you take a hike just as well as a mule), and the same focus as we work towards our aspirations, whether it be consistent one-tempis or bringing an old partner back to soundness.

From Top Left: Alyssa Pitts, Lauren Chumley, Lauren Sprieser From Bottom Left: Jeremy Steinberg, Bridget Hay, Jessica Wisdom, Katy Barglow

Looking back, I'd like to share some of the greatest quotes from the past year that resonated most deeply with readers. These are snippets of stories that clicked with people, inspiring a connection, or perhaps providing encouragement when it was needed most. Sometimes it's the shortest conversations, or most honest, straightforward, feedback (see, Lauren Sprieser!) that keeps us going, and when we start to give up on ourselves or our horses, comes back to whisper in our ears a simple reminder - "You are not alone".

- Erin

"I know with every competition that I enter I have to tell myself 'There's a very good chance that I'm going to get last and that doesn't matter'. Really all I'm shooting for is the best score we can get... Alyssa (Pitts), would always remind me to keep trying, and to 'work with the horse you have'." - Kimberly Mitchell, A Draft-Cross Goes From Craigslist To Grand Prix

"Get your horse back with you, that's the most important thing. If you're riding confidently and the horse trips and he does as well as he can then great, and if someone else scores better I think, 'well more power to them'. You still achieved your goal by being correct and kind to your horse, and he will reward you next time you go out. The score in my opinion is never as important as the good riding." - Donna Richardson, How To Handle The Dressage Test Gone Awry

"I don't mind working with some of the lesser talented horses and a lot of my riders that have those lesser talented horses I see with light bulbs going off and things registering in their minds in terms of the methodology. And when they are lucky enough to have something with more talent I know they are going to be exceptional horsemen and trainers who are going to be able to produce really good results." - Jeremy Steinberg, How Average Horses Mold Great Riders

"You have to have a very experienced and competent coach and get as much help from that person as humanly possible. It doesn't matter how much you know - everybody needs a coach. Especially with young horses, feel is a little bit of a liar." - Lauren Sprieser, Growing Pains: Life With Young Horses

"I think riders can very easily lose the ability to comfortably ride out in the open at more than a walk if they lock themselves into a dressage arena. I feel so strongly that the horses need to be allowed out of the arena from time to time. - Lauren Chumley, Why Dressage Demands Versatility

"Young horses are like a blank slate. In my experience they naturally give you the right answers often, especially when you first start riding them. - Bridget Hay, On Developing Her Dream Horses From Scratch

"I swear I've seen horses pick their buyers before. I've seen horses go 'oh, this is who I want!' and then give 110%. A lot of times you see it - they sit on the horse and they keep asking the horse questions and the horse keeps answering correctly, that's when they know that is their horse." - Heidi Degele, Finding Your 'Happy Place' With The Right Horse

"That's what makes me sad is that so many of these horses that are misunderstood have a ton of heart, but for whatever reason, they couldn't do what they were being asked to do, and they got frustrated." - Alyssa Pitts, Why The "Problem Horse" Usually Isn't The Problem

"I believed in myself and my horse a thousand percent. So many people get bogged down feeling like their horse isn't good enough or they aren't good enough. Riding Grand Prix doesn't take a lot of natural talent, it just takes time and work. And a lot of luck." - The Common Thread Among Grand Prix Riders

"The main reason that I'm 150% behind mares is that they will give you 150% in return once they trust you. I think they will work harder for you, because once they learn to trust you they develop a bond with you that's completely unlike any other bond with any other rider. You become their person." - Rebecca Rigdon-Blake, Geldings No Longer "Preferred": Mares Join The Spotlight

"I have never a met a horse that was successful at training level one year, then successful at first level the next year, then at second level, and so on. There's no such thing as a linear path. If it's a linear path then it's not going to the top." - Lauren Sprieser, On Managing Expectations: Part 2

"It was a really good lesson for me to learn that sometimes to go forward with training you have to go back and fill in the holes." - Katy Barlow, Nowhere To Go But Pro: Biochemist Finds Calling In Training

"Be prepared to work really hard and don't give up. Everyone has moments of doubt. It's hard, and it's a tough industry, and people are really terrible sometimes. You're going to work long hours, you might get hurt, sometimes it really stinks, and you give up a lot to do it. And I'm sure there are trainers that don't give up as much as I do, but that's my nature, I am immersed in this. This is not my job, this is my life. And I wouldn't do it any other way." - Jessica Wisdom, "Quit" Is A Four Letter Word

"I think all of us are basically just horse people that got funneled into a specific sport. I love horses first - and donkeys get lumped into that. When you break it down to the start, and what drew you to horses in the first place, I think most people will just say they love horses - and I'm certainly one of those people." - Allison Brock, Allison Brock Calls On The Dressage Community To Support Working Equines

"My sister calls it the 'Butt Test'. You just put your butt on the horse's back and there's either a connection or there's not. Some people in the horse world don't understand that concept. They'll look at some horse and think OK he can jump this high or do this level dressage and that may very well be true, but in my opinion if there's not a bond between a rider and the horse you'll always be limited." - Terri Rocovich, Dressage's Dark Horse: How A Former Eventer And Her Longshot Gelding Found Grand Prix Success


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