Here is the story in the short version, sort of. Pony Club, complete stressor, I am trying to make positive and right changes to better the club that was on it's last leg and I am met with resistance for every single step. Sigh...frustrating. Then I am also an assistant leader in a 4-H club. A 4-H club that is %99.9999 western pleasure and the other %.000001 are back yard riders who pull their horses out once a year to run them off their legs for the week of fair. I have steered clear of all of these folks for 4 years just taking my kids so they could have fun riding with other kids. Well at the leader meeting it was brought up that they were considering adding a few dressage classes to the show bill next year. That is awesome right! That is what I thought too until I entered into the discussion over the topic and I quickly realized they do not want to really learn dressage they just want to "play" dressage. They asked me what "dressage is" and I started out with what I believe dressage is, the connection between horse and rider, training to acquire correct movement from the horse by engaging the hind end with a round back and bending at the poll. I thought it was a very quick and basic run down of 'dressage'. Once the blank stares started I quickly realized that is not the answer they were looking for. Then another leader pipes up and proclaims, "it is a pattern with letters", another says, "oh! That's what those letters are for in arenas!" Then the president says, "yeah they have to do things like lope a 20 meter circle! Well I guess it is called canter??" Then there was a collective "AH HA" moment that went across the room. "So it is like an equitation class!!!" "YES!". I quitely slump back in my seat and realize I am sorely outnumbered and am new to this group and that speaking up at that point was going to do more harm than good so I sadly kept my mouth shut and they moved on. All agreeing that those type of classes would be fun. I have to say I am not surprised by the goings on within 4-H that is to be expected. They are good people that are offering a good program but that is not their "sport" of choice so they just don't know. I am happy that my kids will get to do some dressage test for free at the fair and so I am happy they made the change. Who knows it may spark an interest in some of the kids along the way.
The most disheartening moment came when I was talking to a Pony Club Horsemasters member and was venting about what went on explaining to her the situation as I did here. And when I said that someone said, "so it's like an equitation class". Waiting for the Oh My they did not! But instead I got, "well that is essentially what it is". I audibly gasped and said, "you did not just say that, honey we really need to have a talk if that is what you think dressage is". So not only are the expected 4-h leaders clueless about dressage but faithful pony club members who i had assumed had been properly educated. It is so disheartening. I know that as long as people are teachable that they can learn and that they quite possibly will some day but do I want to be that person to fight that battle? I don't think I do. My experience is not great to begin with then to not have even one person who can stand along side me in agreance. It really does make you question your own thinking and positions when every single person around you looks at you like you have 3 heads. That is where I am with that and I come here with it because a lot of you DO understand what I mean and it helps not feeling like the outcast.
Just writing this out has helped me get some clarity on the situation and I think I have an idea about what my next step needs to be. I must first get my Pony Clubbers better educated. We need to have some sort of winter unmounted dressage classes with an expert. Someone who can break down the sport into it's most basic form and help the kids/members understand the importance and foundation of dressage. Yes I think that will be a great place to start!!! Now to find the