"Is this the way?"
If you are anything like me...
You have asked yourself, "Is this the way it has to be?!" more than once in your journey to learn dressage. I have, too… I have been through the ups and downs (literally AND figuratively).
It can feel like there are insurmountable obstacles all along the way. And by nature, dressage IS one of those things in which you never stop learning.
There is always more to learn.
In fact, the moment you think you have learned it all is the moment you have stopped learning, because… (and I am speaking personally here… I have been involved professionally in dressage my entire adult life)… and I can tell you with 100% assertion:
There is no end to the learning.
The Good and the Bad
But this process of never-ending learning can be a GOOD thing or it can be a BAD thing. It is really all in how you approach it.
Mindset is huge.
it also has a bit to do with the people who happen to cross your path along the way and help you along. Good help along the way, someone who has been there before and who can compassionately guide you along the journey, is a HUGE help.
It might be that you are in an area with no access to a competent (and kind) dressage trainer.
Or it might be that you are in an area thick with dressage, but yet no one you would even remotely want to ride with.
Or it might even be that you have and work with a trainer you LOVE, but…. you are an insatiable learner and you just want to learn MORE to support your lessons, but... where to find that?
I understand. It is hard to find someone who speaks your language.
- can relate to learning on your level
- can break it all down into understandable language and exercises
- can give you the tools so that you can do the training yourself
cares about the horse and his opinion of the work within the work, rather than just the results
- treats you compassionately, understanding the path you are on and how much learning this means to you
- regards you and your input with respect, who cares about what you think about the work, and how it feels to YOU.
You are actually not alone
And a part of you knows there has GOT to be a better way. Well… there is. 🙂
I am Shana Ritter. I am a dressage trainer who takes an alternative approach to working with horses and riders. I serve riders like YOU who want to learn in a supportive, validating, and fulfilling way.
I am the wife and best friend of Thomas Ritter. We live in Germany with our 2 children, aged 2 and 7. We co-own, co-operate, and co-create our crazy life-business venture we call Ritter Dressage. It has, and continues to be, a real journey!
I am a USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist and I have competed successfully through Intermediare I. I have been riding horses for 33 years, and exclusively dressage for the last 21 of those years. I am owned by my three horses and two cats. I have other interests outside of dressage including yoga, meditation, holistic health and wellness, empowered birth, art, music, and attachment parenting.
Horse as Partner
I grew increasingly dissatisfied with a system which objectifies horses and treats them merely as outlets for the rider’s ego gratification. They are not computers which you upload software onto. They are not vehicles whose purpose in life is to do our bidding.
They are living, breathing, sensitive beings who experience and are impacted by this life they are living. They may very much enjoy working with us, but we owe it to them to relate to them as fellow sentient beings who DESERVE our consideration and respect.
Over the years, I have leaned more and more towards regarding the horses I work with as a partner. I may be guiding the way but I very much take into account their impressions and feedback, and I use that to inform me on the path and process to pursue. I care about what the horse feels and thinks. I care about the quality of the life he is living and the quality of the experiences he has.
If I am happy with the work but the horse is not, then I have failed. His opinion of the quality of the work is JUST AS IMPORTANT as my own. When I am able to view the experience and the work from the horse’s point of view, I am able to put my time and energy into explaining to the horse, which prevents misunderstanding, contempt, and apathy.
When the horse feels he has a valid and respected role in the training, he feels validated and surrenders himself with trust to the process. He ENGAGES with full appreciation.
You get what you give.
When you put your full heart into your work and relationship with your horse, you get his full heart in return.
Dressage as Path
I have learned (oh and I continue to learn!) many life lessons on this path. It goes so far beyond that of just the movements, exercises, and levels.
The pursuit of dressage is like many of the martial arts which operate as a pathway for the student to open up to wisdom.
This doesn’t mean that every accomplished rider has become wise, but they were given the OPPORTUNITY along the way to do so. What a person chooses and makes of her opportunities are up to her. When they accept the invitation, they open themselves up to the deep life-permeating lessons and wisdom within the path. I have chosen to embrace the opportunities I have been given to learn, even when it has been very very hard, to unravel the layers of false truths and distill it down to my own raw, wise, and vulnerable authenticity.
Of course, I cannot and would not force another person onto that path, but I welcome and SUPPORT anyone who wishes to also accept the opportunities to learn the hard lessons which open themselves up to us along the journey.
In 2017, we are opening up enrollment in the first of our online courses.
This will provide you with a unique opportunity to work with me (and Thomas) regardless of where in the world you live.
Our New Books
Head over to our store to order any of our books, ebooks, or DVDs.
Thomas and I have just finished a book about training the Flying Changes. It is scheduled for release in early 2017. It will be available in both paper and Kindle formats.