West to East… and Back Again

WDAA-WorldShow2014Endless hours of the same brown nothingness were not what I imagined whenever I had envisioned a cross-country road trip, indoctrinated by the likes of authors like Kerouac and Steinbeck. But here we were on our sixth hour through the mind-numbing boredom of northern Texas and my sanity felt challenged. Was it worth it?

The drive home to California from the Western Dressage World Show in Tulsa—three days in total—gave me plenty of time on my backside to ponder this. Had all the effort and time and expense been worth it to drive across the county to show a student’s horse in three classes? Watching the monotony of I-40 slide past my window tempted me to say no. A barn full of training horses awaited my return, a backlog of missed lessons to give, students to catch up with. And before any of that, I had to get this horse and trailer safely home, a task beginning to feel infinite.

Yet even in this fatigued state, I did not hesitate when a colleague asked me on the phone. Yes, absolutely. Yes, it had been worth it.

As an Advisory Board member of the WDAA since 2010, I feel towards the organization like a parent: protective and proud, supportive and hopeful. Above all, I am committed. When asked to join the advisory committee in the WDAA’s infancy, I vowed this commitment not just with words but action. I intended, and still do, to nurture this new sport by any means I could offer. To date, I have served on rules committees, attended meetings around the country, written articles, taught clinics, and even published a training book.

So, when it appeared that Western Dressage enthusiasts from all over the country were going to convene together in Tulsa, I knew I had to be there. For one thing, I wanted to feel the gratification of seeing all those people participating in something whose humble beginnings I was part of. Four years ago, we were twenty or so people sitting in a conference room at the Douglas County Fairgrounds full of hope. Now we were a few hundred participants at a big national show?! Needless to say, I beamed with pride in Tulsa.

The other reason prompting me to head out to Tulsa with a horse and student this year was simply an on-going commitment to keep this great sport growing. It is too easy to stand on the sidelines of something and offer grievances or preferences or apathy, which of course is of no help at all. It is important to me that those of us who have given our word to WDAA keep our skin in the game, as the old saying goes. Just as I’ve done since 2010, I intend to keep showing up, being part, and applauding us all along the way. Not to mention, I think it will be pretty darn cool many, many years down the road to have a memento from one of these early World Shows. We are part of history. Let’s keep showing our support.

Written by Jec A. Ballou


3 Responses to “West to East… and Back Again

  • Lisa Walsh
    5 years ago

    Although I’ve been part of WDAA only a very short time, I agree with Mr. Ballou 100%. Our experience at the Tulsa show was nothing short of fabulous. Driving from Ocala, Florida, my tireless husband must have felt similarly about the scenery. Upon arrival at the showgrounds, we were greeted by friendly show managers and stalled near others from Florida. Throughout the show, other participants were eager to meet us and happy to share their experiences. The sportsmanship was outstanding. I thought the roving interviews were awesome, and many folks back home enjoyed being able to watch the live feed of all the rides.

    What I truly enjoyed the most was seeing so many different breeds participating at all levels. To me, applicability to many horses and breeds is what a good discipline is all about. The inclusiveness is what attracted me to Western Dressage.

    So, yes, I agree with Mr. Ballou’s assessment – it was definitely worth the time and expense, and we look forward to seeing him and Benito (the cutest donkey ever) next year!

    • DMD-Admin
      5 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful response… I know that Ms. Ballou will be thrilled when she reads it!

      • Lisa Walsh
        5 years ago

        Me culpa! No intention to offend!