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  • Writer's pictureKristie Cotton

Perfect Practice makes Perfect

What exactly are you putting into practice is a question that should be asked. Horses can endure situations that are progressively hindering their mental and physical state of being. A horses presence alone can bring a spiritual awakening to any soul that has become numb to life. We must always remember the beauty of horses, especially in our training and riding methods. We must always remember why We were so drawn to horses to begin with.

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I love Dressage, I love studying it, and practicing it to promote a sound mind and physique. Dressage Definition- The art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance. ( Oxford Dictionaries ) The methods should be used to create a willing, well rounded athlete and partner. Practiced correctly, it contributes to all disciplines of riding.

Dressage as well as other disciplines can also create a demand for perfectionism. This demand can sometimes be good as it builds a demand and thirst to acquire more knowledge. It can also cause us to forget to ride in the moment, forgetting the Joy and happiness horses bring us. In our desire for perfectionism, We tend to become hard on ourselves as well as our horses. Is my position correct? Is my horses head and neck position correct? Is he responsive? These are great questions that show a determination to educate ourselves to become better riders, this should always be a priority. Becoming mechanical in our riding or demanding our horses to be in a frame that we believe fulfills our perfectionism can block that energy of love for the horse.

I had easily fallen into the trap of being driven by perfectionism, acceptance, and acknowledgement. I wanted to be recognized, respected , and believed. This was leading me to a high expectation of myself and my horses. My oldest daughter is a beautiful Dressage rider. She loves to compete and does very well at shows. She had high hopes this year of competing our Hannoverian at Prix St. George level. We were training and working so hard to make this happen. We have a large pasture to train in and a very small sand area. We had successfully trained and competed her Belgian cross on this

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property and won USDF horse of the year. Suddenly in my high expectations, this was not a good enough place to train at. This was leading me to wish for so much more. All this hoping and wishing for better everything began to cloud my true love and passion for riding and training in the moment. Goals and dreams are awesome, wrong motives for recognition and perfectionism are not.

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Everything came to a stop for my daughters ambitions. She unexpectedly had to undergo a third spine surgery.  This was a serious surgery in attempts to stabilize her deformed spine. There were some complications that had her fighting for her life. As I stayed by her side in the hospital, I learned some wise knowledge that I will never forget and that has brought me further in my Horsemanship skills. I love horses, they bring a child like joy and happiness to my life.   

I have endured some tough situations where my love for horses kept me sane. The presence of the horse, their dependence on our love and care for them can bring an empowerment to lost souls. My daughter has had to put a temporary hold on all her dreams. Thank God it is a temporary hold but her perseverance has taught me how important enjoying the moment is.

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We cannot forget why we became Horseman/ Women. The controlled power and energy a harmonious horse and rider can present is a beautiful sight to behold. Seek knowledge from an honest professional and listen to their advice. Our relationship with our horses should create a beautiful picture of unity, not fear and force. Your horse is depending on you to provide a healthy atmosphere of consistent care. The horse needs forage, fresh water, regular vet care, a knowledgeable farrier and training methods that improve his mental and physical well being. Perfect practice starts with right motives. You love horses, they should love and trust you. Seek to bring out the best in each one.

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“learn from each and every horse you ride. Every horse has something to teach you, and sometimes you don’t realise what that lesson is until years later!’

– Carl Hester

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