What is the goal of training?

Roxie doing her best ‘Passage’

If you hang around the classical Dressage crowd for any length of time, you will hear someone say something to this effect: “Horses already know how to do the movements, in the field; training only consists of teaching them to do them with a rider added.”  It might also be slightly modified to include “on cue” or “on request”.  But is it really that simple?  And, if they are able to do the movements, what is it they need to learn, besides the cues, to do it with a rider?  Here is my take.

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It’s All About You!

Your horse still trundles along, heavy footed and maybe also heavy in your hand.  Or, your horse is constantly in danger of putting you on the fast track to front tooth implants, with his head always in your face.  Perhaps your horse travels in a decent frame, but steering or transitions are problems.  It can be such a challenge to get your horse to cooperate!  You’re trying your best, but nothing is working.  What is the secret to improving these situations?  The solution likely lies within you.

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Sculpting the Equine Body, Pt 2

Mom and her Coffee

In a recent post, I discussed the general notion of how you can change the horse’s body, for better or worse, based upon the nature of the work.  The inspiration for that post came from Coffee.  Recently, my mother had been commenting on how much more handsome Coffee is than when he came here.  I put it down to her total infatuation with her boy; but, after taking some current photos, and digging out some photos from his first year, I have to admit that she is absolutely right!  There have been changes to his physique that I’ve noticed – and some that have apparently sneaked up on me.  For this post I will share some of those photos, and discuss some of the specific changes and their causes.

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A Day With Christoph Ackermann

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program …

A section from the flyer for the clinic

I promised that my next post would be more information on sculpting the equine body, but I confess that time has not been in abundance this week, so that is still in draft.  However, having just spent a lovely day listening to Christoph Ackermann teach, I wanted to share some quotes and key points.  Perfect timing to buy me a reprieve on the other post.

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Sculpting the Equine Body, Pt 1

From “The Rider Forms the Horse”. Horse and rider unknown.

One of the aspects of classically based Dressage training is the way in which it changes the horse’s physique.  It is true that any equine activity that involves a level of conditioning will tone muscles, and should make the horse more attractive.  I say “should” because there are definitely activities that condition a horse but can actually make them less attractive (more on that later).  However, I have yet to find an activity that has as positive an aesthetic affect on the horse’s physique as classically based, correct Dressage training.  There are bio-mechanical reasons for these changes – and it’s an excellent barometer for how good the riding and training actually are.

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Fly Mask Fashion

Coffee in his ‘roll up’ fly sheet look.

I have a creative little herd.  They like to rearrange and reconstruct things just for fun.  Often that includes the ‘clothing’ they wear.  This tendency is not limited to just one – no, it has become a trend within the group.  So, just for fun, while I work to finish some other posts, I thought I would share some of their best fashion statements.

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Coffee, Confidence Builder

In riding, as in life, we require confidence in order to succeed.  Most of us have encountered those horses that have helped us in that journey.  Perhaps it was the horse who knew his job so well that you could leave him to it while you sorted out the mechanics of what you were doing.  For me, that horse was Wicki.  Or, perhaps it was the first training project, who survived all of your mistakes, and still somehow came out okay on the other side.  For me, that was Ben.  I have encountered many horses, in my journey, who have added to my confidence as a rider and trainer.  But, sometimes confidence wanes or is lost, and we need that horse who has the ability to help us find it again.  For my mother and me, Coffee has been that special horse.

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