Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dressage beginnings

In our half-hour sessions, I've realized its the perfect time to start incorporating some dressage work and getting Q to go "on the bit". Cowboy taught her how to "give a soft feel" which is essentially the cowboy term for what you dressage people call "on the bit". She's got an incredible foundation on her training from cowboy man (his methods incorporating training similar to that of Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman), all the better for me to build up from! With just a little encouragement I can get Q to "give a soft feel" and be "on the bit". The current problem is keeping her focused for any length of time when working at the barn. She'll collect beautifully and then she notices her friends in the field and is all, HEY! THERE ARE MY FRIENDS! DO YOU SEE MY FRIENDS? DO YOU SEE THEM?! THEY'RE OVER THERE! Annnd then we begin again. I think its progress though.

We'd been riding on the nice flat road, hence the hi-vis vest

Some folks I know will argue that "a cowboy-trained horse can do anything", but in reality the proper training base on a horse will allow that horse to do anything. I know people from the western and English disciplines love to pick at each other about who is "best" and what is "better" and "proper" and "functional" and any number of other things. But from my observations of well-trained cow horses and well-trained horses in English disciplines, much of what the horse ultimately does is the same. Different terms are used. Different tack is used. But when it comes down to it, both training methods will turn out a horse who can travel in a very collected fashion and can utilize their body and its movements in efficient, sometimes "fancy", ways. And frankly, English disciplines (moreso, certain trainers pushing for too much too fast on a "hot" horse that is so wound up from standing in a barn and not having a life as a horse that it can't think straight) have trended toward applying excessive "contact" on the horse's mouth in recent years to the point where I feel (and I know Saiph has shared this view) the integrity of what a horse and rider can accomplish together has been a bit tarnished. The "old style" of dressage accomplished just as much (or more) without plowing away on a horse's mouth. I have personally witnessed cow horses (I say this instead of QH because not all working horses are QH just as not all endurance horses are Arabs) collecting and doing beautiful movements without the kind of "contact" many English disciplined riders would use.

But I'll step down from my tiny soapbox and give you more video screenshots from Monday evening (ones above from last Thursday). Monday Q was feeling QUITE feisty about life. She executed a lot of lateral movement at the trot and even tossed in some super collected canter in her efforts to gravitate toward her friends. Oh, and its worth mentioning that throughout the entire sequence in photos below there were chainsaws, a screaming child, a puppy, Kenai, and gun shots happening. I may post the video eventually. I'm currently too lazy to wait for that to upload.

You want lateral movement like this?! Fiesty, fiesty mare!

It will be interesting to see where some formal lessons get us in a few months. Guidance from fellow bloggers on how to proceed with this whole mess is helpful, too. Guess we'll see what I can do with her + what lessons can do for us. My riding attire will never be formal though, haha.

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