Chill Pill or Swim Against the Current?

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 09:03
My cat took the chill pill.

I'm not the type of person that makes that many New Year's resolutions, but I have to admit there is one that keeps echoing in my head throughout the year. I need to write more editorials. Yes, I'll start doing that in 2021. Deal!

I've said this before but then the reality of life hits me. I write articles non-stop to create content for Eurodressage and often I feel deflated when there is time left to pen an editorial, even though they are supposed to be easy pieces. Once I get writing I want to say too much and they become a mountain I have to climb. I'm probably the person most annoyed with my own style and type of coverage: the lengthy pieces, the endless amount of details and history facts that I always want to cram into a text. Ugh. And then the idea to write an editorial or blog evaporates...

This morning I woke up the usual way: my cat literally knocking its paw on my bedroom window to order me to get out of bed and let him inside. A slave to my cat, I do so obediently and interrupt my sleep. Instead of tossing and turning for another 30 minute in a snooze attempt, I end up checking social media on my phone for an hour. Just browsing over today's new Facebook and Instagram content, carefully spin-doctored to look as pink and positive as possible, made me think of my resolution again.

Quo Vadis?

When I surf Facebook and Instagram, I want to say, comment, question so much but then reflect that silence is golden. Twenty-three years in the field of equestrian journalism, I have always had a very critical stance about pretty much everything. Don't take anything as automatic, always ask why, always look for facts and search for the truth, always wonder. And today my thoughts led me to say out loud: "quo vadis?"

Am I becoming out of touch with the reality of the sport or am I just a Debbie Downer? The KWPN Stallion Licensing is going on and I browse over instagram to see videos and photos of how the 2.5 year old stallions have been prepared for this moment. I see a photo of a young colt in tight draw reins, nose tied behind the vertical, moving in a spectacular trot, posted by a famous Dutch young horse breeder and trainer. There are over 250 likes and 18 comments stating "wow", "spectacular", "on fire", and "so cool." I raise my eye brows. 

I continue to swipe right and see another international Grand Prix rider sharing a clip of a piaffe training. What I see is a tense horse doing a hand stand, not a piaffe, nor half steps. It's leaning so much on the forehand, so deep in front and the only thing it does is bop its hindquarters half a meter off the ground. Where is the collection? Where is the balance? Do you they even know what a piaffe is? A hundred reactions of how amazing the horse looks. I raise my eye brows. 

Debbie Downer

The essential wake up ritual
Videos are being posted of breeding stallions to promote them for the 2021 season and sell as many coverings as possible. I see highly famous stallions, beautifully presented in professionally arranged videos. I scrutinize the training of the horse, I think "wow this one lost some elasticity in the back and quality in the clarity of the gaits" but am aware that all will be good in the end. With another I see a hindleg, "schlapp" and trailing behind. I question its strength for future Grand Prix work.

At 8 AM I share my thoughts via Facebook messenger with a colleague and instead of feeling good about the conversation, because we are exchanging thoughts driven by our passion for dressage and breeding, the chat is ended with me feeling bad about the conversation and silently accusing myself of being negative, so early in the morning.

Of course I'm well aware these horses are in a difficult phase in their training, moving from young horse level to S-level, and they need more time to grow and develop. However, I do give myself credit that I'm not that often proven wrong when I predict the Grand Prix future of a horse or see its "real" quality, instead of thinking "wow", "spectacular", "on fire", and "so cool". 

Chill Pill or Salmon

Do I need a chill pill or swim against the current like salmon? That is the thought I take with with me from my bed into the bathroom and then downstairs to coffee machine, where I make myself the mandatory cup of morning cappuccino to jump start my brain and body into action.

Good morning :)

- by Astrid Appels