That Little Extra Work...




On Monday, I met a good friend of mine who has despite trying hard (she has to, as she wants to keep up with Hafl's and my story!) no clue about horses. Even more, she has no clue about dressage. She went to see some horse shows with me already - and no matter how it went, she thinks we were perfect.

She asked me how we two are doing and I replied that we are doing fine and what the plans are for our season - moving up the levels, Pinky. And she asked me:

Why is that so special with a Haflinger? After I told her that in the upper levels, you see less and less of them.

Good question, indeed. How to explain to a non-horsey person that you are doing all that you can to carry your little fatty pony up the levels?

Well, imagine that there is a marathon. On the one side you have all those athletes, I do not want to mention any nationality but looking at world top runners you would know what I mean. And then there is me, a short legged little overweight and not well trained (because just learning to run). How big are the chances that I win? I guess not that big.

In dressage, it is a little bit like that, the maverick ponies and crosses that are successful in upper (or even higher levels) are rare. Even here in Austria, where there is tons of Haflingers at shows, there is only a handful who make it beyond a certain stage. Sure, having a body shaped like Hafl's and legs as short as his it is not easy to compete well bred Warmbloods - they have been bred for work like this for ages. Long legs, swinging backs and lots of space for a bending rip cage make some things easier. But that doesn't mean that we cannot do it. It takes more time, it takes more stamina - but, we can succeed. In riding the test as accurate as possible. In earning points in the exercises where gaits don't matter (i.e. a nice square halt).

I had to realize when thinking about my goals this year, that is not anymore about the ribbons. With us moving up into the next levels  the  well bred top athletes become majority and Thelwell look alikes are less and less common. Apart from that, we can still work on earning our points for the next license. We do not have to win to get the necessary 62%+.

For me, surviving a marathon would feel like winning - as I would definitely never ever be able to beat those world top runners. But I could still enjoy the journey, the progress and the improvements made within.

And though we might not be the majority, there is at least some who are trying hard to make the best out of their maybe not so perfect dressage ponies - there is a Facebook group for Off Breed Dressage Horses and a Pony Owning Adult Supporting Group - take a look here:




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