Monday, January 19, 2009

Ain't misbehavin'

A long time ago, I was a fearless teen. There really wasn't a horse I couldn't ride, gallop out or bounce off of. I loved and lived to event at one point and usually the more bolder, hotter ponies were much better than the ones who were shy and reserved.

When I started dressage, I was the same way, I liked a hotter horse. Porches as my then-coach would describe them. Thankfully the schoolmaster taught me not to nag with the aids otherwise I would still be in the stratosphere.

With the training from impetuous teen to semi-educated rider, I really began to develop tastes for particular habits and over the years I've developed pet peeves with people and their horses that could be perfectly controllable aspects attributed to training.

These are just a few:

  • I hate horses that can't lead by my shoulder that lag, lean or drag behind.
  • I don't like unforward/cold/lazy horses.
  • Horses that don't know how to stand and wait at the block.
  • Pushy horses.

So when one of these really rear their heads, I try my darnedest to get past it, and unfortunately it's often swift, somewhat methodical and sometimes lacks the southern version of tact.

Forwardness is my biggest pet peeve of all. I want the horse to be forward, without question, all the time. Irregardless of under saddle or on the ground. Its such a basic fundamental principle of dressage, but at the same time it's just as ignored as straightness.

Part of forwardness is fitness. Eighty percent of horses out there aren't really fit enough to go beyond the level they're being asked of. The other twenty percent are just not off the aids, not sharp enough.

I think other half of the problem is three fold. First part is that most riders are really afraid of asking for super forward, carrying gaits, also that horses never really learned to be forward from the get-go on the ground and I think the other half has to deal with the corrective measure, which sometimes can't be pretty from an outsider's standpoint.

When my horses aren't forward, I immediately correct them and send them on. Being in front of my leg is not a question. It has to happen, all. the. time. The general thought to corrective action in some fields (notoriously natural horsemanship) runs a long the lines of abuse.

Clear direction and correction isn't abuse. Nagging however, is.

And this is what bothers me when I sit on other horses, is while I try to remain tactful and un-nagging as possible. But its the perception of being overtly rough that bothers me.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Man I couldn't agree with you more. I am not a fan of lazy horses. I need that energy to be there when I ask for more. And frankly, a horse that is not truly forward can present a safety issue sometimes you know? Some may be ok, but it worries me that one may get sucked back and then a result in buck/rear/leap, etc. I have found that simply sending a horse on solves a wide variety of issues. But I agree, I think a lot of people are scared of the power you have to harness when you do that. Anyway, good post. :-)