Janet Foy: "Dressage is a Marriage Ruining Sport"

Sun, 03/08/2020 - 12:20
Q & A
Janet Foy at the 2019 CDI Wellington :: Photo © Astrid Appels

American 5* judge Janet Foy will be officiating at the CDI Sydney on 29 April - 1 May 2020.

In an interview with the Sydney CDI press staff, Janet shares her long standing relationship with the Sydney CDI; her judging focus for combinations at the Sydney CDI 3* 2020; disarmingly frank lessons on her experience in achieving life balance; recommendations on furthering dressage judging and education; and, some light hearted quirky fun ’Foy’ facts that make her such a colourful high achiever in our sport.

Sydney CDI

What will you be looking for from our combinations at the various levels during the Sydney CDI?

Harmony: meaning correct training following the training scale, correct execution of the movements, but all performed in an athletic and elastic way with a good team effort!

Achieving Balance

A movement has commenced towards mindfulness and balance within all aspects of Australian dressage community life. How have you managed to obtain personal balance between dressage and the rest of your life, and why do you think it is important?

I didn’t for many years; this is a marriage ruining sport. To be successful you must work all day every day with horse shows or judging or doing clinics on the weekend.

And you need money to buy good horses, as no one wants to take lessons from someone who is not successful. It’s a tough sport. Now that I don’t ride or own a barn anymore my life is much more balanced. However, coming into Tokyo I am traveling a lot to Europe to judge large shows; 2020 is not a restful year!

Is mindfulness a commonly practised training concept for USA equestrian high performance sports and/or the general horse community?

Mindfulness is not really and a movement in the United States, but our team members work with a sports psychologist.

What is often lost in our intense dressage focus is that many of our high achievers are multidimensional, reaching success in a number of fields outside the arena. What do you think is your most satisfying achievement outside dressage?

Being a good friend. I am proud of my success in the ballroom. I also enjoy reading, gardening and I also love cooking and attended the Cordon Bleu while living in England.

Dressage & Judging Education

Your best-selling books ‘Dressage for the Not-so-Perfect Horse’ and ‘Dressage Q&A with Janet Foy’, tackle the plight of understanding dressage for the everyday rider and horse, through to explaining technically detailed nuances at the sports highest level. What question have you found the most challenging to answer?

Trying to explain to a new rider that is it an excellent idea to buy a ‘Professor’ horse to learn on, but NOT such a good idea to think you can just start showing at that level.

What do you think is the key to better communication in advancing dressage knowledge for the equestrian community?

Too many instructors in the US can put out a shingle and be a teacher. That is not the case in Europe. Developing a strong instructor certification is very important.

Where can our audience go to source further dressage information from you?

Through my books or the articles I have written for Dressage Today. The USDF site has my levels videos. I don’t maintain a website now. Do you think participation in a basic level of judging education would be of benefit to all members of the equestrian community, even if they do not intend on a judging pathway?

Yes, in the US we have the ‘L Program’ which is open to auditors and aimed at ‘teaching judges to evaluate the correct training of dressage horses’ We encourage trainers and competitors to attend the sessions. It really helps to know what the judge is looking for!

Fun Foy Facts:

• Who was your first pony/horse? A black quarter horse named Snakes. I was the ‘Girl of the West’ for the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo in 1971.

• What is your most embarrassing dressage moment? Having my husband reading the wrong test while I kept riding and the spectators and the judge were laughing themselves silly.

• Did you come from a horsey home? Not my parents, but my Austrian Grandfather loved all animals and took my sister and I to riding lessons every Saturday.

• What is something funny about you that not many people would know about? I love pink and anything shiny.

• Have you convinced your husband that horses are not really that expensive yet? Well, I only had one horse when I married Michael, and sold her after 2 years. He is a retired orthodontist and enjoys my horse friends but we would never have been married if I still had my stable.

text by Tracey Mahony - Sydney CDI press release, edited by Eurodressage

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