Different sort of training for me last week! Working with Quarter Horses in Wyoming, USA - no arena, just countryside.
There are Indoor Schools and then there is Chateau Font de Broc.
Words of wisdom from some of the world’s top dressage riders about treating horses as individuals:
Klaus Balkenhol admits to spending sleepless nights over both of his successful dressage horses, Gracioso and Goldstern. Gracioso was a shrinking violet, an introvert, while Goldstern was a hot horse and a prankster, gelded late so he still felt he had to assert his authority. Balkenhol had to find ways to gain the trust and confidence of both horses of very different personalities. He went into Gracioso’s stall many times a day to give him treats and pet him. With Goldi, he had to find ways to relax him, including Linda Tellington Jones’ relaxation techniques.
Isabell Werth writes, “when I think of Satchmo, I never cease to be amazed at how one can experience so many highs and lows with the same horse.” Among the many ups and downs with the sensitive Satchmo was that he frequently lost his nerve and had panic attacks during dressage tests. Finally a vet found he had “eye floaters,” an imperfection in his eye membrane that made it look to him as though something was suddenly flitting back and forth in front of him. A successful eye operation resulted in great improvement in his behavior.
American George Williams speaks of how a horse’s gender must be taken into account. He says of the impressive mare Rocher, who had a strong sense of fairness, “as her rider I have to be very careful when I correct her and make sure that I am always being fair, in return. Otherwise she will take offense, close down and become very strong.”
Jan Brink says “With a mare the rider must carefully formulate the aids…it is if he must fill out a contract and ask for permission before the mare will agree to work with him.”
The saddest testimony on man-made issues comes from Karen Rehbein, famous for her partnership with Donnerhall. She says she has worked with many stallions including one named Maneken, who was “always scheming up new ways to disobey in the back of his mind.” Their relationship was a good one, a combination of friendship and partnership, until she “decided out of modesty for my own ability at the time, to bring Maneken to a top trainer so that he could help me with the fine points of our piaffe and passage. This professional training only lasted three weeks, but in this short time my brilliant charmer became a broken horse. The trainer, who had barely missed riding in the Olympics, answered every little bit of cheekiness from my stallion with a merciless show of force. In my youthful lack of self-confidence I was too slow to question this ‘experienced’ trainer’s ruthless attitude.”
By the time she ended the training arrangement, it was too late, the stallion biting himself in the chest at the slightest leg aid. It took a year before they regained their understanding, but his “spark” never returned. She writes she is still riddled with guilt that she did not disregard this trainer’s ‘big name’ and immediately take her horse from him. I had a similar experience resulting in injury and permanent unsoundness in my first promising horse. I too have residual guilt, but years later, when another abusive trainer revealed himself, I ended the arrangement on the spot.
Another very valuable section is on why your horse’s anatomy plays a role in how he’s training. The length of his back, the shape of his neck, the set of his legs, his size, all impact his ability to perform and while all horses benefit from some dressage, it helps to know how far one can go.
As Isabell Werth, winner of the team gold and individual silver medal at the Beijing Olympics, says: “No two horses are the same…for each horse there is a ‘key,’ and it is our task to find it.”
Massive Congratulations to Rebecca, on making the Team for the Young Rider European Championships.
Amy and Mr Mercury won the U25's Grand Prix
Rebecca and Bon Jovi won the Young Rider's PSG
Dannie won a PSG with David and Lisa Knox's Figaro
Fi won a Prix St George this week, her first in 12 years!
Zoe enjoyed 2 wins at Advanced Medium, having just moved up to this level!
Scarlet won her first Elementary - we made her step up a level!
All of these riders enjoyed success on horses they have trained themselves - well done everyone, hard work paying off - so pleased for you all.