The conference call was wonderful because of our group and the interesting questions asked. It is so uplifting to be heard and appreciated! Thank you all for your contributions to the call! I am more and more aware that I am making a difference for the horse getting a better deal, and helping the cause of finding other uses of horses from the connection we share with them. They have so much to offer mankind in our evolution, well-being, and life enrichment that they bring to us. We need to take care of the horses we have produced- it is our moral responsibility, and it is important to man’s own salvation. The mind set that would take care of a horse after its practical need for labor and transportation and entertainment is a mind that will help to form peace on the planet. The Question Someone on the call asked a question about her trainer who felt that her riding was setting her horse’s training back, and she wanted to know if this is possible. I want to add more to my answer to her, and I think it will help a lot of horses, coaches, and students. I answered, “Yes it is true.” And this is what I want to add: It is a major problem in how horses get permanently ruined especially when the scenario is when an unconfident green rider buys a green horse and puts the horse in training and takes lessons on her green horse at the same time of its development.
The Answer What happens is that the training slips, and the horse must then be re-schooled by the trainer who must then ride more aggressively due to the passive riding the horse experienced from their owner. After awhile, the horse gets mad at the coach. The horse then takes it out on the owner until finally the horse will not respond positively to the lessons anymore and becomes untrainable and mean. I inherited a horse like this that was going to be put down, a horse that someone paid $100,000.00 at the age of two. He was six at the time I took him to save him, and he is now my horse Liberty Cat. When I got him, he was a confirmed bucker with severe back and neck issues that causes him not to be fixable for riding. If this scenario had not happened, he would have been a good horse for a qualified rider and trainer, and all of this could have been avoided.
A Good Approach in Starting a New Rider in Dressage In my training business in Sonoma, California, I had horses in training and students that took lessons on the horses I had in training. It all worked out to be beneficial to the horses because I was able to keep the lesson on a subject that helped the horse to advance or stay in tune with the rider. A lesson started out in 15-minute sessions, and then into 30-minute lessons later on. I had the student ride without reins and worked on the student developing an independent seat doing walk- trot transitions on a lunge line where most of the lesson was in walk and halt transitions. I used a sliding side rein for comfort to the horse so the horse could move his head up and down and keep the connection. After the student achieved an independent seat, they got reins and learned how to use them from walk- halt transitions and the timing one needs to have to be able to have the horse step into the halt, rather than being surprised or jammed by the reins.
When I ask a student to sit the trot, I ask for a few steps of trot so that the horse is either moving into trot, or moving back to walk. The trot that occurs in an upward and downward transition is easier to sit. As the student gets stronger in the seat, you then can ask for the horse to hold the trot for more steps when the horse is no longer engaged with an upward and downward transition. In between the trot work, I put in a lot of walking and lessons from the saddle in working on body language and how to influence the horse with your posture and rhythm. I put a strap on the saddle and make the student use the strap by pulling their seat into the saddle to feel the deep rhythm of the horse. It affects the body- mind to get it. This kind of schooling is relaxing to the horse just as the Uberstreichen Exercises are. This kind of schooling is also beneficial to advanced riders as well.
Less is More Much more is learned keeping the lessons short for the horse and the student. I try to stay away from the rider signaling the horse to do something that the horse will not respond easily to. This focus helps me in my decisions. When I feel the student can ride independently, I prepare the horse before the student gets on, and I make every effort to keep the horse and the student united. If there is a problem and the unity is lost at trot, we return to walk. I keep the horse and student on a 20-meter circle until I see the “magic” happen.
After the lesson, I get on the horse and retrain the connection the horse may have lost from the lesson. If the horse is worked right after the lesson, there is no residual loss in the horse’s training. If there is, the horse should not be used because it is not fair to the horse or to the student. I also teach my newbees to work horses from the ground so they can develop authority in the conversations with their horses that carry over for them when they ride.
What causes things to really work out for everyone is to never do any thing that will sell a horse or student out, and from that platform- you will create a program that will work beautifully for you. I hope this gives some students and possible teachers some food for thought and helps to create some ideas of their own that are ground breaking to the horsemanship world!
Here we are again facing another weekend and making every effort to hone our point of view to witness the new horse sightings that are all around us.
May the horse be with you and thank you for supporting our equine companions!