15. Last week I caught myself at ShopRite thinking about outside rein contact as I maneuvered my shopping cart around the corner of the canned goods aisle to the snacks and soda aisle. Even more recently, I was trying to weight my left seatbone while merging onto the Jersey Turnpike.
14. Only in Dressage could the words Uberstreichen and Schwung mean anything aside from something entirely obscene. If you do not know what Uberstreichen and Schwung are, surely you do not 'school' dressage.
13. I am addicted to a sport dictated by Europeans, dominated by Europeans, and taught by - you guessed it - Europeans. The thought that I am an insignificant American not only does not cross my mind while riding, it spurs me on to vain dreams that I may someday achieve the impossible and beat a European.
12. I do not own a warmblood. Therefore, I am invisible.
Which leads to . . .
11. I am now facing reality that I will never have enough money with which to buy an FEI Warmblood, with which I can attract the attention of a European coach who will see that my horse and I are extraordinarily talented, take me under their wing, bless me with their knowledge and then school me and my horse to be good enough to attend competitions at which I may have a chance to beat a European. . . never. I can, however, pay just about any dressage coach for weekly lessons in which they can tell me how unsuited both I and my horse are for dressage.
10. Only in dressage (and perhaps in gymnastics), and ballet, does one actually spend time thinking about how they wish they could separate their legs from their hips.
9. In spite of this I still school dressage and dream about competing in the Olympics, and get goosebumps watching American international Grand Prix riders who fly themselves and their horses to Europe to compete and be broadcast on television . . . as they get beat by Europeans.
8. Because I ride dressage, I pay lots of money to go to shows and ride my horse in a "test" in front of esteemed individuals called "judges" who give me "scores" on my performance and write down their "comments". These "scores" are then posted for everyone to see. Upon receiving said "scores" and reading said "comments", I am often reduced to a quivering puddle of tears.
7. In other disciplines, there are 'styles' of riding the seat. In dressage there is only dressage. You are either right or wrong - and fixing the wrong is almost always accompanied with wrenching the leg from its socket.
6. Dressage comes from the European word for 'Training'. There is no completion to this training, and no state of nirvana is achieved . . . NOTHING is ever perfect. You can actually read Dante's inferno and make out descriptions of first through fourth levels quite clearly. In other words, if you begin the dressage journey, you will never end. Dressage should, instead, be renamed 'purgatorical riding'. Once you think you have something mastered, you will find that it was actually an insignificant building block to the next step which you can never possibly achieved because - by the way - you were doing it all wrong.
5. The dressage saddle necessary for me to purchase to aid in improving my position and my horse's performance costs more than my car. This may or may not be a good indicator of my position and my horse's performance.
4. I could come up with way more reasons than this but I need to go out and practice my stretchy trot circles soon.
3. They accidentally misspelled FEI - What they meant to write was FEE - the Federation of Equestrian Europeans. Or, in my case, they spelled it right: Friggin' Entirely Impossible.
2. A 62% may flunk you out of 8th grade Algebra and get you grounded by your parents for a year - but will send me, a beginner dressage rider, into a long and breathless performance of 'the dance of joy' and I will brag about it to my friends, who will look at me blankly and then laugh when I start to talk about Schwung.
1. Never again will I be able to take a nice long trail ride in a state of blissful ignorance of maintaining contact, position and that ever-nagging mindnumbing idea of throughness. I miss the days of pulling on a pair of boots, and simply 'going for a ride'.
Now, don't get me wrong - some of you may own warmbloods. Some of you may take lessons from Europeans, and some of you may even ride FEI . . .
And if you are, or if you do. . .
You are off my Christmas card list.