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Most dressage riders can only dream of dancing with an Olympic-level mount – you know, those horses bred and born with conformation and gaits for the sport. Most of us are adult amateurs doing the best we can on the horses we have with the instruction we can afford in the time we can carve out from lives full of work, home, and family obligations. We ride the horse(s) we have.
 
Last year I audited a clinic by an Olympian working mostly with accomplished riders on fancy-shmancy warmbloods. I paid close attention, took notes, and then went home and rode the way that clinician drilled each of her students to ride in order to let their mount express itself most beautifully in carriage and movement. And as my humble dancing partner started giving me a lovely, swinging, springing trot I thought, "Ride the horse you want.
 
If I focus on riding uphill, my horse carries more weight on his hindquarters and lifts his front end. If I keep my body centered and connected, his body gets more balanced, If I exude positive energy, my horse will become more responsive and energetic. If I breathe deeply and slowly and quiet my mind, my horse will calm down and relax.
 
So enjoy your horse for the unique and generous partner it is, whether a talented warmblood with famous names in its pedigree or a retired team roping horse. But when riding, channel the harmonious connection and incredible gaits you dream of – ride the horse you want each and every time. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!
Michelle McMillen
Published on 2019-07-08