One lesson I learned recently was about humility. “Horses,”Christine said “teach us to be humble”. We can work and train to try to control every little detail of our demanding sport. Dressage is a sport of details. It requires extreme discipline and thought, but there is one completely uncontrollable factor; the mind of your equine partner. One hundred times, no one thousand times they can see the same arena and then one day the shadows are different or the letter has fallen off the cone and they act like they have fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole. No matter how good we think we are or how much we train we can be on the bottom (or on the ground) without notice or in the blink of an eye. We search for grace, harmony, balance and sublime beauty in the moment but that all comes connected to a 17.2, 1600 lbs. animal with its own fears and anxieties. Never take anything for granted. Never think something can’t or won’t happen to you! But in spite of the risks and costs; try.
This takes me to why all my posts have been so short (but a lot more frequent) these last few days; the Sochi Olympics! Talk about anything happening, have you ever seen so many people at the height of their careers falling and crashing? The conditions there are so less than optimal. I know we all think, “Well at least they all are riding under the same conditions.” But what I think the spectators want to see at this level is everyone at their best. Optimal conditions in the Olympic venues allow the spectator to watch the athletes push as far asthe human body can to excel in a pure sport. We are definitely not getting optimal at this Olympics and I hope future venues take notes and don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. I guess we are all learning Christine’s lesson on humility in the last few weeks. I would like to add that lessons in humility often come associated with heartbreak. The photo of Shaun White leaving the halfpipe after his 4th place finish will haunt me. Already he is being asked if he will ever come back. In 2018 he would be 31. That is thought to be way too old in his sport. He must be thinking, and the fans must be thinking if his competitive days are over? How devastating will that be some day for all of us? It seems far away at 18; particularly in the sport which boasts a 72 year old Olympian. However, even if it isn’t age that ends a career, if it is injury or finances that would still be devastating. I could not even begin to imagine a life without dressage. We are really lucky in our sport. We have the potential for very long careers. We have teammates and friends who understand the horse bug and share in the disease with us.Most of all at least we will always have the horses. Shaun can’t get too much communication, affection or attention from a snowboard.