dressage dreams

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I got in bed, as noted, with Kara Kush last night, quite later than I'd anticipated because of the "burial at sea" freakout, but managed to get in a couple chapters, before closing the book, setting my cheaters upon it on my nightstand, turning out the reading lamp, and rolling over with the thought in my mind for my teacher to come to me in my dreams.

I got my mother.

Typical. Tip-ih-cull.

She was informing me that she'd entered me in a dressage competition on her racehorse. She's old. She's only got one left, and it is not exactly dressage horse material. It's doing pretty darn well on the track, and, for once, reasonably closely resembles a real racehorse, being as how I managed, against all odds, to convince my mother to breed her third deer-sized broodmare to a stallion with some size in addition to her harebrained bloodlines dosage points. She doesn't know from horseflesh. All she knows is bloodlines. Sorta like the royal family. So, after much bellowing and waving of arms on my part, she finally came up with a filly I'd call a horse.

I know, I know, I'm something of a snob about this. I don't count anything under seventeen hands as an actual horse. Ones shorter than that, but still out of range of the pony classification are only putative horses in my book. So I was greatly relieved to find Gwen, the racehorse, much taller and not such a damn mousy/boring color. She was suddenly a very dark and silvery roan. Quite pleasing to the eye, and happily in the stall allotted for her at this rarefied competition in which my mother had entered me, heedless of the fact that I have not ridden a horse at all in twenty years, or what that meant for my physical ability to put this one through paces I had no reason to believe she'd ever even heard of, let alone performed, in her life.

It was this weird mix throughout the dream of certainty that I could do it, and win it, and a state of abjection to my extreme unfitness for the task at this late stage of the game. I mean, maybe if she'd given me a few months at a gym to tune up for it. Few people realize how much strength is involved in riding a horse. They think it's like riding a moving chair. Not much of an exertion. Well, after you have gone past the initial travesty of it all, all the deeper muscles in your body take over. The big main ones stop being important in the business of staying astride a beast, but every other one gets one hell of a workout in the process of maintaining what equestrians deem a "seat".

I was an expert horsewoman... am... seriously... no kidding... trained by a couple of the best people in the history of the art/sport... and am personally responsible for putting someone quite near our Olympic Team, although I think he will probably end up too old to actually get on it before his "seat" is too arthritic to sit. I am not bragging. In fact, I'm heartily embarrassed by this former student's rise in the horse world. His dick had a lot to do with it, and he has reverted to his panicked-pilot-in-a-nosedive "seat". This, I know, makes no nevermind in today's equestrian scene. People at the very top ride like preschoolers on Shetland ponies nowadays. The point of all this dressage shit is to learn to maneuver one's mount without giving any evidence of cuing it and it is not to loop around a ring showing off the various bits of equine footwork mastered by horse and rider. It is 100% about getting that maneuverability to negotiate over hill and dale, including jumping over things. This dressage thing is sort of analogous to the figures tests in figure skating nobody ever gets to see on the televised competitions because they're so boring. Think of it as penmanship in a writing competition.

Lately, and very entertainingly, the dressage world has added music and we get dancing horses. Witness the incomparable Blu Hors Matiné. The idiot riding her is gouging her with his spurs, raking her with them. Shit rider. Fantastic horse. I'd give anything for that horse. But the cheat is: horses LOVE to dance. You crank up the music and a damn plough horse will start stepping like that.

Anyway, the dream was full of facing up to this task. It was set very near where I grew up. A lake was added in next to the stable for the show horses. Mom was driving me around. This is SO nerve wracking because she's shrunken up so much she can't see over the dashboard and her reflexes are gone. She nearly backed us into the lake at one point. We were also rummaging around for appropriate attire for this adventure. She'd had my boots widened to fit my sister. I had no breeches or coat or hat or any of the correct attire. One of the reasons I gave up showing horses at all was the impatience with the thing about attire. Another was my loathing for competition at all. I was never competing. I was ALWAYS there to perform up to the highest standards.

So, anyway, in the dream, I was vexed but committed to the project, starting to become upset that no one was posting a diagram of the expected maneuvers, as they do with the courses for hunters and jumpers, and it began to dawn on me that they expected me to know it. Pfeh. Right. I have never once bothered to show a dressage horse. I stuck to hunters and jumpers, and the dressage was always for the express purpose of improving the performance in those areas. I was going to have to punt. Despite all this anxiety and vexation over details and the nagging feeling of unfitness, there was an overarching feeling that I was going to pull it off. I was going to win it. The horse would perform perfectly. There was just this mess before the fact.

So I'm taking this "visit from my teacher" [thank you] to be telling me to regain my fitness to perform... to, as the great Zen Master Dōgen instructed, stop doing and perform.