Wednesday, December 31, 2014
A New Year is upon us. That means the Robert Dover Horsemastership week is almost here! This is such an amazing event and I am so excited to be able to ride Sjapoer in it! I was injured last year and gave up my riding spot so I am thrilled to get the opportunity to work with some great trainers on him this week. I have been lucky enough to have been part of this every year since its inception. Like anything in its infant stages the RDHMW has grown and changed so over its initial years. I have been happy and proud to have been able to see this great idea grow. What began with Dressage 4 Kids and Lendon’s ideas to help the youth in dressage has grown beyond a lot of its initial dreams. Like all dreams (and all great ideas) as it becomes more solid it also has more expectations and demands. We learn each year what to improve on and what really works well. As we all have said our challenges in life and with horses are what makes us better. It shows us what our weakness are and it helps us to grow. I love that the RDHMW supporters and organizers grow and learn alongside the actual participants whose goal is to learn. The purpose is to make us better. The purpose is to educate the youth in dressage on the broader picture of a career in the equine industry. The purpose is to promote broad growth in our sport. Through giving to us not only training on the horse but off , the RDHMW shows us so many things. While we are learning, those in positions of power or influence are also learning. We saw how England turned around its program in dressage to become such a power house. They didn’t do it with assisting a few elite and older experienced riders at the top. They built a program from the ground up, with the youth. A long term pipeline has to, in its very nature, include young people who will some day be the leaders and forces in the industry. Just as we must educate the youth in America to keep our technological advantages in industries like the sciences and advanced artificial intelligences, we have to educate our youth to give us an advantage in dressage. When we educate the youth in America about science and math we don’t hang our hopes on only 5 or 10 potential scientists we attempt to educate many. From that many come legions of potential. The odds are in our favor. Imagine the size of the potential riding population in the US as compared to England. Then imagine if we educate and support the youth in a similar fashion. What amazing latent potential lies in wait in the US! I don’t just mean for gold medals. Imagine the potential purchasers of riding pants or saddles. Imagine the jobs for vets and massage therapists. Supporting youth programs like the RDHMW, D4K and all the new USEF programs is the future. I have to say in the last four years I have been so glad to see so many in our sport seeing this and donating in any way they can. Many of them do it without any type of recognition or desire for return. It is coming out in sponsors, trainers and even non-horse people. For example, I have to take a minute to say thanks to Endel Ots for last year donating a horse for Genay Vaughn to ride. That is the spirit that is beginning to spread in our industry. I hope it grows and I hope to give it back any way I can too. I watched the movie “A Hundred Foot Journey” with my mom and grandma tonight. I think there is a great lesson in this movie for us. The two restaurant owners both start keeping this ‘classical’ or ‘traditional’ in their own world. Over time they cross that hundred feet and learn how to change and grow by allowing in new ideas and a new way. They all end up better off. Perhaps a little spice here and there can make things better. I know they have for me and the hundreds and perhaps thousands of children in these programs. I can’t wait until Saturday morning to see what new things are in store for me to learn and share with you.