From Endurance to Dressage
Earlier this week, I finished Stephen Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time. It wasn't an easy read, and I am not going to pretend that I understood most of it. Heck, I barely understood some of it. That's not why I read it though. I enjoy reading a broad variety of genres, and while I am not a theoretical physicist, it doesn't hurt to broaden one's horizons.
This space is of course primarily dedicated to my musings on all things equine, but occasionally, I feel compelled to write about the books that I read. For most of this particular book, I read each chapter absorbing what I could while skimming what was beyond my comprehension. When I got to chapter 9, "The Arrow of Time," it suddenly felt as though Hawking was speaking directly to me. Every word he wrote made perfect sense. I sat up and really started to listen. It was this sentence in particular that grabbed hold of me, "Why do we remember the past but not the future?"
When said by someone who may have been the smartest man to ever live, you know the answer can't be because it hasn't happened yet. In his book, Hawking says that there are three different arrows of time. The first is the thermodynamic arrow of time which points in the direction in which disorder increases. He explained it like this: anything that begins in order will eventually become disorganized. A clean house just gets messy. The second is the psychological arrow of time. This is the direction in which we feel time pass. It's the reason we remember the past but not the future. The third arrow is the cosmological arrow of time. This is the direction of time in which the universe is expanding.
Stay with me, as I do have a point that relates to dressage. Hawking takes several pages to explain that the arrows of time point the way they do because the universe as we know it appears to be progressing from an ordered state to a disordered state. He asks us though to imagine a world where things progress from disorder to order. If this were to happen, both the thermodynamic and psychological arrows of time would point in the opposite direction. Disorder would decrease with time. If that were to happen we would remember the future but not the past.
As I read that chapter, I realized that in dressage we do move from a disordered state to an ordered one. When ridden well, our horses become better organized, better balanced, more energized. Disorder decreases. As such, Hawking argues that our psychological arrow of time would be backward. He states, "they would remember events in the future, and not remember events in the past." How amazing would that be?
Imagine remembering earning a Gold Medal rather than the last time you hit the dirt when your horse spooked as a four-year-old. How about remembering your first FEI test rather than a failed Training Level test when your horse was tense and fearful of the flower boxes. How about remembering riding your Steady Eddy bareback with a halter instead of remembering getting bucked off your fresh five year old. If only we could remember our finished, accomplished horses instead of all the times they scared us, wouldn't we all have more confidence in our horses' abilities and potential?
We all know that carrying old baggage and bad memories only hurts us and prevents us from living our best lives. I think that "remembering" the future rather than the past may well serve us better than we know. I always say that I wouldn't want to know the future, but "remembering" a magnificent future wouldn't be so bad.
I can see that USDF silver medal now. What do you see?
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: