Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Beatles, Beach Boys, and Bob Marley: What we can learn

The other night Bob and I watched a Beatles Tribute. The Tribute traced the history of the members and how the band formed. Back then, things were so different. Things were so unorchestrated compared to now. I thought about this. And, naturally, I started thinking about dressage.

What do the Beatles -- and for that matter, the Beach Boys, and Bob Marley and the Wailers -- have in common?  Unique,  wonderful music. The impact they had on the world. The times they influenced.  I think about about these things...
  • There was no American Idol back then to find the most marketable star; stars were not handpicked by experts. 
  •  Their sound was uniquely theirs--not formulaic, not edited/modified to appeal to  a demographic.
  • These artists had no pedigree -- and minimal training.
  • Here is what wows me the most. They happened to live in the same neighborhood, or go to the same high school. The Beach Boys were brothers. Their music just happened.
 Do you think that the *three most talented musicians in the world all went to the same high school, and THAT is why we have the Beatles?

No. There was a synergy that went beyond training and technical skill.

Most of us were not born into perfect situations -- we work from where we are, with what we have. Most of us acquired our horses by luck or chance -- from CANTER or from the friend of a friend, or through a local ad. We did not fly to Europe for our dream partner. There is no American Idol for dressage horses!  Our riding is not managed -- we don't have the advantage of being in training, and there are no top pros scrutinizing our every move while we're in the saddle.

Maybe years of targeted breeding aren't a prerequisite to having a good dressage horse. Maybe it doesn't take a panel of experts to ride your horse.  Maybe you can work with what you have in front of you, that just came together by chance, and still be amazing!

*Ringo came later.

Disclaimer: This was not a big back-patting exercise for me -- not by a long shot. I have a bred-for-dressage warmblood and am presently investing a lot in training me and my horse. I'm thinking more of my past (Harvey!) and of the riders in my local community who are ROCKING it with the horses they have and not that much support from the pros.


  1. All my horses (two so far) were acquired because I rescued them. I am currently riding another horse who was basically abandoned by his owner and has lots of baggage that he needs to leave behind. Happily for me, he has dressage potential. Happily for him, I am, one by one, discovering and fixing problems with his health and tack. We came together by chance and work with what we have.

  2. I'm going to link to this post in MY blog, because it is GREAT. Most of my horses (two Paints, a Morgan and now a Mustang) have been "alternate" breeds that I've had fun with, learned from, and with whom I've even had some local and even national success. Yes, we can be AMAZING! And since this is reality for most of us, you have helped us embrace it.

  3. Great post, and this applies very much (perhaps more so) to Australia as well. We don't really have 'trainers' in the way you do in the US, and pretty much anyone in Australia can afford to own a horse. There's no need for stables here and most horses are kept in a paddock. You don't even need rugs. We also have some incredibly well bred horses here, but there's really no development program, no intense training, no learning to ride on the lunge under quality instructors. Most of us potter around at home on our off the track TBs, ponies or home-bred WBs, attend clinics and if we're lucky we might have a decent instructor to travel to. We attend pony club as kids, or learn to ride as an adult, and if we persist we might even be quite successful. It's still possible in Australia to be a top level rider without the "pedigree" or some big dollars behind you, although those days seem to be slipping away.

  4. Wow, what a great post! For me this sport is fun because I CAN take the horse I have but it is easy to feel discouraged after reading about people who seem to think the only way to make any progress is to have the fancy, purpose bred horse.

    Thank you for the reminder :-)

  5. This is awesome. I LOVE this!


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