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.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled program …
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.
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.
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.
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.
“Good luck with keeping the place up and finding any time to do anything with your horses!” Those were the parting words of the previous tenant of the first little barn that we rented. We’d been boarding our horses at the same stable for ten years. When a little barn became available, and the boarding stable owners said we could use the facilities for all if we kept one horse there, it seemed the perfect way to save costs with our growing herd. Fortunately, the former tenant was proven wrong, as we kept that barn going for a few years while I also competed, had students and horses in training, and went to university full time. But I have to admit that her words have been on my mind far more in recent years.
From a young age, I was fascinated by why some teachers were easy to learn from, while others made things seem even more confusing. I was particularly fascinated with riding instructors, and exactly why I preferred some to others. I have been teaching, in one capacity or another, for nearly forty years. I have hired and mentored other teachers. Through all of that, I have formed some pretty strong opinions about teaching – what works, what doesn’t, and how context matters. But there is one conclusion I came to long ago – teaching is a talent, rather than a learned skill.