Reno Celebration, Day Three – Or, Where do I go from here?

Finding that one luminous thing when everything else is dark …

Back in my normal lessons days at The Paddock in Los Angeles, I saw pieces of dressage lessons from fancy trainers. The riders never smiled. The horses certainly didn’t. They tied the horses’ mouths shut (but not the people’s!) and even a novice like me could see that “light contact” does not mean “haul the horse around by the gums.”

My instructor sometimes worked dressage tests into my lesson to give me a pattern to learn and follow. Because I had a purpose, and I had to look up to find the letters, I found a better balance as a rider. But I didn’t want to “do dressage” because it looked so confining and claustrophobic.

Yesterday, I audited a lesson by Walter Zettl to Linda Parelli and Remmer. All three participants smiled, concentrated, communicated, and gave it their best try. It was not effortless — but it was constructive, beautiful, flowing, teamwork effort. Remmer and Linda both worked very hard mentally, emotionally, and physically, but with each other, not against each other. It was dressage as it should be: precision without prison, control without force, progress without skipping any interim steps or forgetting to appreciate the moment.

Walter says it’s hard to translate “schwoom” into English, but he tried, and here’s how I express it (and this is my translation of his translation; I haven’t run it by him or anything). Schwoom is total mental, emotional, and physical engagement, expressed in movement. It’s wonderful! (“Voonterful!”)

And that was only one segment of the conference. Spotlights, Parelli Games, Q&As, Pat’s playing with the rescue horse — and her handler playing with her, showing what he’s learned in just a couple of days of observing, and he did GREAT — Pat’s stories, Linda’s stories, Lauren Barwick and Maille’s stories … it’s a good thing I’d begun sneezing that morning and put Seth’s little bag of tissues in my purse or I’d have had tear streaks down my face all day long.

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