Parlor games

My Dressage mentors were very good at creating exercises for humans that helped to illustrate the physical or mental challenges the horse goes through in their training and development.  I recall many hours in the study room, with people struggling to perform – getting some small sense of what it’s like for their horses.  I can’t testify for the others, but I always found these exercises enlightening, and I have used them with my students throughout the years.  Today I shared one in a Facebook post, and that inspired me to share a couple of them here, where I have a bit more space to explain.

Continue reading

Posted in Horsemanship, Just For Fun | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is a master?

There has been a recent debate, in a Facebook group, on what qualifies someone as a “master” in the realm of Dressage.  It has been triggered by several “Master Classes” conducted by people whose only qualification has to do with winning competitions.  Is that enough to be a true “master”?  If there are other qualifying factors, what are they?  And who makes the determination that someone qualifies to be called master?

Continue reading

Posted in Thinking Out Loud | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Where is your line?

We all have a line.  It is invisible.  You may not be aware of your line, or think much about it.  But, you know when someone has crossed that line.  Everyone’s line is in a different place.  Take the recent scandals of sexual misconduct.  Harvey Weinstein’s behavior crossed nearly everyone’s line.  Al Franken’s crossed some people’s lines, but not others.

Not everyone’s line is constructed the same, either.  For some, their line is narrow, neatly drawn, and very black.  Everything on the one side of the line is good, and everything that crosses that line is bad – full stop.  For others (myself among them), their line is rather wide and contains all of the gray areas.  On one side is good, and on the other bad – but there is considerable space within the line for those things that are less clear.  Using my example above, it is in my line’s gray space where Al Franken falls.  Distasteful behavior, yes.  Clearly not good, but not really in the class of “bad” into which Harvey Weinstein and others fit.

But, this post is not about the #metoo movement.  My question to you is – where is your line when it comes to horses and riding?

Continue reading

Posted in Classical Training and Philosophy, Horsemanship, Thinking Out Loud | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Scary smart!

You can just see the wheels turning …

The day that I purchased Coffee, his breeder and I had a chat about horses that fit her label of “scary smart”.  For her, these are horses who are always thinking, seem to be a step ahead of you, and that learn things (good or bad) at a speed that makes your head spin.  We compared notes of scary smart horses.  Ben was one of those horses – and she was warning me that Coffee was, too.  It wasn’t long before I knew she was absolutely right!

Continue reading

Posted in My Journey | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Respecting the laws of Nature

In my equestrian library are a handful of books that I return to repeatedly – either for reference or just for the pleasure of rereading.  One of these cherished books, A Horseman’s Notes by Erik Herbermann, was a suggestion by a used book seller when she did not have the book I was after.  She said this out of print gem was one of her favorites, so I bought it on faith.  It has turned out to be one of my all time favorites!

Continue reading

Posted in Classical Training and Philosophy, Horsemanship | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it affection? Or just my imagination?

The barn was dark.  It always is on winter evenings.  We keep the power to the barn off, most of the time, to lower the risk of fire.  Instead, we operate with headlamps as we make our way through evening chores.  Heads reach over each stall as I pass through, noses touching my arm, or soft breathe blown on my cheek.  The quiet greetings are welcome after a day at the office, filled with meetings and people wanting things from me.

Continue reading

Posted in My Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A blast from the past

At times when I need a reminder of how beautiful Dressage can be, I look primarily to my library.  No book cheers me more than The World of Dressage, by Neil ffrench Blake.  I stumbled upon this book at a thrift store, twenty years ago, and a better dollar was never spent!  Published in 1969, it is filled with black and white photos of top riders of the era, from all of the Olympic disciplines.  It is a beautiful tribute to a time when tack was simple and the horse was paramount.  Most fun of all is that the author freely makes comparisons and criticisms, in the name of educating the reader.  As I recently leafed through the book, I decided to share some of my favorite photos and commentary.

Continue reading

Posted in Classical Training and Philosophy, My Journey | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments