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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It only looks easy

Something monumental has happened.

For the first time EVER, Tess's blog has made more $ in adsense this month than this blog.

Come on people!!!!  Are you going to let boots and saddles play second fiddle to Tess?  NO!!!!!  Of course not!!!!!!  With almost 1000 posts, 10,000 views, and more than 3 years worth of history Boots and Saddles is OBVIOUSLY the superior blog.

So in that spirit, it's time to post something here instead of reflecting on Tess's probable future as my lord (notice the lower case spelling) and master.

Karen's blog post reminded me of a post I've been meaning to write for quite some time.

"It only looks easy"

As a teenager/young adult I would look at dressage tests and shrug my shoulders.  I didn't see the point.  20 meter circle?  check.  Walk/trot transition?  check.  What made this stuff so hard?  Once I actually started showing as an adult I understood.  Beyond the mechanics of dressage, which ain't so easy, showing dressage is extraordinarily difficult.  Why?  Because you are being asked to do something right NOW, at THIS place, at this TIME.  Sure, you can get some nice 20 meter circles at home -->  But can you get ONE really nice one on the first try after down-transitioning on the long side from a canter?

It's wise to contemplate the implications of this before spouting off from the rail that you are obviously ready to show at "x" level because your circles/transitions/movement looks at least that good at home.

While I consider the sport of agility to be the "endurance" sport of the dog-world (brains over beauty, function over tradition), the actual act of showing agility has more in common with dressage than endurance.  You and your animal partner are asked to perform specific maneuvers, at a specific time, in a ring in front of a judge. 

That's a whole lot different from being a huge group of people and evaluating whether you can get away with something when the judge isn't looking, or deciding to do something management wise to "pretty up" the horse right before presenting to the vets/judges.

So please, don't disparage someones contacts or poles at a competition and pronounce yours superior if you've never been in that ring, performing under the pressure of the judges watchful eye.  In some ways a dressage+endurance background is the perfect combination as I prepare for an agility competition.  Endurance made me inventive and creative;  and dressage showed me to be cautious about proclaiming myself ready for competition based on comparing my dog's home performance with that of the dogs competing in the ring.  It ain't as easy as it looks.

As a side note: Endurance may be the only sport I know of that you can expect to do BETTER at the "show" than at home (assuming that you've trained the pace you are riding yada yada).  Done a couple of seasons of 50's at a moderate pace and horse looks fine and bouncy at the end?  You could probably do a 100 even if the thought makes you sick to your stomach with nerves and excitement and you don't know how you'll ever get through it.  Just rode 25 miles and can't imagine riding 50?  You're probably closer than you think.

PS - yes I know that this post was dog related.  But the word endurance was mentioned!!!!!!  and its applicable to the horse world!!!!  OK - I may be reaching, but seriously!!!!!  This blog needed some love.....

1 comment:

  1. It's always interesting to watch how differently folks tend view other people's mistakes and successes, versus their own. So often the other guy's good moments are flukes and their bad moments are systemic problems, while one's own successes are well-deserved and the glitches are situationally-based or just plain old-fashioned bad luck. And that's even before you get to the part where competing (by oneself, with a horse, with a dog, whatever) is its own set of skills that you need to have mastered on top of the riding (or handling) part -- as if the riding (or whatever) wasn't challenge enough!


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