Sunday, November 04, 2007

After the Clinic

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I am still pleased with Tucker and, though still stinging a bit from the insulting comments, pretty much have it all in perspective.

I remember taking Russell R., my first horse, to a lesson with an International trainer who had a reputation for helping people get their horses to extend the trot. During the lesson, said trainer rather quickly decided Russell had little talent, but he still worked with us. However, at one moment of exasperation, he said, "Well, this horse could never do a proper half pass."

I kind of shrugged nonchalantly, and said, "I'll show you." Well Russell had amazing half passes at both trot and canter with wonderful crossover. And it was absolutely easy for him to do them.

Trainer's jaw dropped as I demonstrated some super half passes across the arena.

Just because "They say so," it doesn't make it so.

Of all the horses I've had--except perhaps for Si, the four year old I lost to colic surgery--Tucker really is the most suited for dressage. He has three solid gaits, good balance, a quick brain, and a willingness to learn. On the negative side, his trot is not expansive, and he will have trouble with the extension. On the plus side, the collected work will be easy for him as will the lateral work. He does need to learn how to carry himself better off his hind end and elevate his forehand, but my lessons with Gabriel have already proven he is capable of that. I just need to learn how to ride/teach him on my own. He will never be a top level competitor, but he is capable of being solid through I high as I've ridden, so I know, and, I certainly hope I can train him to Grand Prix, again, not to win, but to be able to do all the movements.

I do not have the money to spend on a big, expensive incredibly moving dressage horse, so I train whatever horse I own to his full potential. I honestly and perhaps, naively, think that is what dressage is all about. I show more to test myself than to win, but I do take issue with judging and scoring that reflects the quality of the horse as opposed to the quality of the training.

I have been insulted by teachers before, so I can certainly survive this latest experience. That is one of the reasons I loved Lockie Richards. You could come into one of his lessons with a short legged fat Shetland pony and he would always find something good about the horse and, in the lesson always find a way to make the horse even better. He was a true and talented teacher and the world is much emptier for his loss. Edgar Hotz, who was a really tough judge, was also a good teacher whose goal was to make whatever horse came into one of his lessons better.

As a high school teacher myself, I try to judge each student according to his/her abilities, and while I may well set my standards high, I will always reward the student to tries to reach the goal and I try to make at least an essential part of the goal something every student in my class can reach.

I am hoping Gabriel will be here Tuesday for lessons, as I could use some good training right about now.

In the meantime, I rode Chance for a bit in the ring, then took him out for a longish trail ride tonight. We saw at least 3 white tailed deer (the dreaded fangtails) out on the edge of the woods and all my Chancypants did was stop and stare, and then go on about his business. He did try to spook at a tree stump, but once he saw what it was, he marched on by without much fuss.

He is funny as each time I school him in the ring, the "out gate" to the woods has a magnetic effect on his body. At this rate he may never really learn to go on the bit, as the hacks are so much more fun for us both. On the other hand, I really would like to have some more steering control when we are out on our adventures. Guess I am going to have to settle down and do some serious long lining with him as when he was in more steady work in the spring, it was really making a difference in his under saddle efforts.

Tuck had the day off but certainly insisted on attention. His new trick is to try to bite me, demanding at least some kind of acknowledgement.

I "asked" Toby if he wanted to go out for a hack, but he took off when he saw the bridle. So, I gave both him and my bad knees a break.

I'll ride that terrrible mover of mine, Tucker, tomorrow. School is off for the week, so I have lots of daylight. Here's hoping I can get him to do some of those things he simply shouldn't be able to do....*G*


  1. Glad to hear you getting it in perspective. It was the trainer, not your horse! Any fool can buy a big moving warmblood and get big movement (I should know - in terms of creating good movement Jazz is MUCH easier to ride than any other horse I've had) It takes real skill to get a horse without naturally huge forward paces moving well. I love your attitude to your horses, keep it up :-)


  2. I am late, but CONGRATULATIONS to Tucker and YOU for your work ethic. I am really impressed by teh Ulcergard effect ...

    I am afraid Axel Steiner represenst the NEW trend of Dressage . *I* (on others forum too) call it " moedern dressage or competition dressage".
    In my heart, I am a dressagiste, but I cannot face the "competition Dressage".
    I have the right horse with a bit extravagant gaits, but I do not want to ride with 100slb, and I do NOT want to rolkhur.

    In Germany there is a counter-movement with Philippe Karl, Anja Beran ect ...
    It is called calssical dressage or baroque Dressage.

    Anyho, they insist that ANY horse can do upper movements... ANY horse, with more or less brio, and more or less difficulty but ANY horse can do it.

    Have you Jean-Claude Racinet or Etienne Beudant?
    Etienne Beudant's TB Robersart could NOT trot, so he taught him to piaffe thn to passage then to trot ;-D
    Okay but not everybody is Beudant ^-^

    But If I were you I would have a look into classical dressage. There are studenst of J-C Racinet in the state. His approach might interest you.

    In conclusion, I am convinced that Tucker can and will learn upper level movements.
    Mr Steiner is a Dressage snob and an incompetent teacher ...

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