Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dressage or Dancing in the Rain

Today I worked my first dressage event. I assume most people have at least seen dressage once, think The Lipizzaner Stallions. 
I first remember reading "Airs Above The Ground" a book about the famous stallions. And of course over the years I have briefly viewed horse shows.
Today was not the glamourous TV installation of equestrians on immaculate horses.

It was raining. Steadily. It was cold. There were 5 arenas. All outdoors. The horses were wet, the riders were wet, some in rain gear, some not. I was there to help in any way I could. Which meant running score sheets to the judges. Moving the PVC pipes that formed arena fences. All in ankle deep water/mud/muck. The arena "floor" is small gravel and sand. It was like walking in 3 inches of  a slushy.

Between the activities I watched horses and listened to the "horse people" talk. They commented on strides, neck arches, conformation. I listened to a new language and tried to match their words to the horses movements.

There were lots of standard thoroughbred looking horses in an array of colors. They all were light on their hooves, graceful and elegant as they went through their choreography. There were a few that were not amused by the wind and rain. One particular small horse, (or maybe pony?) was really ticked off. He fought the bit. He backed up. He jumped around sideways, backwards and any direction he could. His rider fought with him for control. Another person took him by the bridle and started him off in the right direction and then he would change his gait with the rider trying to control him. He was a feisty one! I knew he was being naughty but I admired his spirit and determination. For a little guy he was a spitfire!

Toward the end of the day, I fell head over heels with 2 particular horses.

One was a black Frisian: a big muscular horse with feathers on his feet. He was indeed a Black Beauty. Controlled and graceful, he did not seem to notice the pelting rain or the mud kicked up by his large hooves. I could easily imagine him carrying a Knight into battle. I could have watched him for hours. He and the rider seemed to be of one mind and body. 


The last horse of the day was an Andalusian. He too was magnificent. A dark gray with a striking white face. His tail and mane had been braided then loosed so they hung in long undulating waves. He danced across the arena, impossibly light for such a large horse. He was all grace and beauty where the Frisian was all power and dignity. 

I was agog at the beauty of these two. They took my breath away. I wanted so badly to pet them, (ok I admit what I really wanted was to ride them!)  The Andalusian was neighing and talking as he crossed to the far arena. Mr. Personality! 

I regretted not having my camera as I can find no google image that truly captures the beauty of these two.

They made the steady rain, the frozen wet gloves on my hands, the bone chilling breeze bearable ~ No,  actually they made the day worthwhile and unforgettable. I am entering a new world and falling in love with it more and more each time I visit.

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