The next question is... how do fake dressage schoolmasters manage to stay in business?
Because if you are a beginner to dressage - you just don't know what is normal. So, no matter what bullshit may be served up to you, if you are on a horse you have been told is an "advanced level schoolmaster" - you believe that it is correct. If you got on a low level hunter that would not jump a stick without some solid flogging, you would be pretty confident in speaking up and letting the coach know that perhaps something was amiss. But with dressage.... hmm...
I have a suggestion....if you find yourself driving home after paying $100 to be totally demoralized and confused, wondering to yourself "how could I possibly suck this much?" you might just want to consider that the horse you have been riding may actually be a poor, sour, lame old soul who should be retired and is not, in fact, a schoolmaster right now, or maybe never ever was.
1. If the horse looks over 30 - probably not a good schoolmaster
2. If the horse's feet look like they haven't been done in 3 months - ditto
3. If you can't get horse to walk - bad sign
4. If you can't get horse to trot - bad sign
5. If you can't get horse to canter- bad sign
4. If you can't get horse yield it's iron like jaw to any sort of rein pressure in any direction - not good
If instructor insists that you have made horse "rein lame" after mounting and riding forward 10 steps due to your lack of "dressage" skills (even though strangely you have managed to walk on horses many, many times without issues) - it is really not promising. I suppose there is some infinitesimally small possibility that the horse is not just "LAME lame" and you actually do suck that badly. But you know what Occam's razor says.. "draw reins are like"..no wait, wait.. I get so confused. I meant to say "the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one".
If instructor tears a branch off of a nearby bush to use as a whip, because he/she forgot to bring one, is too lazy to walk back to the barn, and there is no hope in hell that Mr. Limpy is going to move forward without one - start to worry. (You think I am making this stuff up, don't you...)
If instructor spends last 15 minutes of your lesson at the halt, explaining "the pyramid" and adjusting each minutia of your position like you are a poseable action figure - again, maybe you really are Quasi Modo on horseback and it takes that long to get you set up just right. I don't even know who you are or how inept you may happen to be yet even I highly doubt this. But what is for certain is that Mr. Limpy can pull off the schoolmaster shtick much more easily if he is not actually moving.
Lastly and most importantly - if the instructor shows any signs of being a true believer of the great Dressage Conspiracy.. run. Just jump off, let go of the reins (don't worry, Mr. Limpy isn't going anywhere) and leave. You know the drill... George W blew up the World Trade Centre, Aliens are housed at Roswell, and the only reason this particular instructor is not busily packing his/her bags for London is that the European breeding community is paying off the judges to lowball Arabians. Or whatever off breed. (or... whatever. Insert your favourite version of this theory here. I would love to hear some of them).
It has nothing to do with the fact that the instructor can't afford an International calibre horse (and there is no shame in that, who the hell can), can't afford either the time or the money to be in consistent top tier training program (again, who can), or just isn't all that skilled at the art of dressage (and 99.9% of us aren't). Nope, none of those totally normal, human challenges that we all are afflicted with, and could totally identify with if the person just said them.
Nooo...noo..NO. It is all about the crooked Classical hating evil judges. And Anky. Yah. She surely must have something to do with it. Bitch.
Conspiracy theories require that there be a “villain,” or evil empire of “them,” who is responsible for a conspiracy which is invariably targeted at poor little old “us". I don't know where you are in your dressage journey, but should you choose to become one of the poor little old "us" - hey, I have an idea!... Let's talk about Hockey! How about that Reimer, eh?