Tucker was a Gem
Even if Axel Steiner didn't like him.
Well, ,aybe he liked him a little, but he certainly was disparaging of Tucker's gaits when we started out. The horse prior had been a nice little Dutch Warmblood and Tuck DOES NOT move like a warmblood. He does have three more than adequate gaits with a nice canter when he relaxes.
He was very tense at the beginning but, aside from a few spooks, really a good boy.
Steiner made a few remarks about how much more the gallery could now appreciate the previous horse gaits and also told me Tuck would never be a Grand Prix horse. Now, mind you, I did not tell him I wanted to compete at Grand Prix, just that I wanted to train a horse to that level. Sorry, but there I cannot agree. Far less talented horses than Tucker have been trained to Grand Prix, so I don't think that's a real issue.
We spent the session getting Tucker to move forward off my leg, something which, prior to the ulcer medication was an iffy proposition. He was good as gold about responding to taps of the whip and, once he figured it out, transitions down and up to help him engage his hind end.
The trouble was, aside from encouraging me to get Tucker forward--something which I do know has been a problem--Steiner didn't really teach me anything else new, inventive or worth the exhorbitant fee I paid for the clinic. ($200+) If I hadn't known how and when to do half halts to encourage him to step under or to soften him before the lengthenings, we would not have accomplished anything. To be frank, this guy was not a good teacher. Good eye for demanding and watching for improvement in my horse's gaits, but very little use as to how to get there except to drive him on.
For his part, once Tucker decided that the doors, windows and people seated at the side of the ring were not going to eat him, he settled into a very workmanlike attitude and really worked hard for me.
Times like this, I just try to keep things in perspective. I know Tucker does not "take your breath away" when he moves, but he is certainly capable of the upper level movements. He is not carrying himself as well as he will be able to as his training progresses, but we have also just come through more than one wasted year when every effort to challenge him for more was a really, really risky endeavor.
I have always believed dressage was the way to make an average horse better and that done well, any horse can be improved. I have also believed that in the show ring, even the average horse, going at his best, deserves reward. It may not be the blue (In Britain, the red) ribbon, but some respect and compliments from the judge can go a long way.
Hard to tell any of that from Mr. Steiner. One of the auditors left after a few minutes of my ride because she was so insulted by his commentary she just didn't want to watch any more.
Too bad. As far as I am concerned, Tucker won the championship today with his attitude and work ethic.