What do we chase in this sport? For that matter what does any athlete truly seek? Where is that line from a game or a hobby to a passion? This week watching the Olympics and watching all the proud mom stories for P & G I wondered. What makes an Olympian? I mean we understand to some degree there is a difference between professional athletes and Olympic athletes. Professional athletes are often driven by dreams of wealth and fame; but seriously Luge, Curling or dressage? These are such niche sports we can’t expect that these athletes are chasing a dream of wealth and fame. What made Robert, Lendon or any Olympian or even those who just missed making a team keep trying? What makes them sacrifice so much? My friend Genay is driven by the dream of riding ‘the perfect test.’ She puts in hours every day striving for this perfect moment. Robert said at the RDHMW he always was driven by a need to understand everything. He wanted to know why and how everything worked. I think I ride because it is “my place”. When I am in the barn in general, and in the saddle in particular I am in a magical world. Everything feels right. All my stress, all my fears and cares go away. It is like my soul gets to soar for a time. It flies to the heavens and returns full of sunlight and happiness. I love the horses because they bring me peace. I love my horse partners because I understand them, and I cannot imagine a life without them. I try to explain this to non-horsey people and it is hard.
I remember the first moment I met Sjapoer. I knew he was the horse for me because he was so aware. He wanted to know what was going on. He wanted to come over and meet me and interact with me. He knew I was there. He communicates with me and I have learned how to talk to him. This doesn’t happen with every horse. In fact, I rode dozens of horses on that trip to Holland. Only Sjapoer told me he was aware of me and wanted to communicate. It might be his intelligence, his curiosity or his spirit but it shone in his eyes. That awareness, that communication I experience to some level every day; but in some moments his spirit seems to lie in my hands. I can feel him talking in the bit. I ride to open that communication, to become as one with the spirit of the horse. I ride for that magic. I dream of the experience of showing all non-dressage people that man and animal can be as one, can be a team. Humans don’t have to dominate and use; we can learn, grow and share with them. We can find the perfect balance and harmony through communication of the softest and most connected nature. That is my perfect moment.