Monday, October 21, 2013

Teenthink: We're all guilty

Overheard at a hunter barn

Teen rider: I would have rocked it if it was an equitation class. 

Trainer: It *was* an equitation class. 

Teen rider: Oh, I thought it was... What's the other option?

We laugh at the teen's foggy notions of her sport -- but at least she has hormones as an excuse. There is an equivalent mental fog in many adult dressage riders. As upper-level dressage rider and Dressage Chronicles author Karen McGoldrick points out in a Facebook post:

 "It amazes me how little most students actually study...this is a discipline and not just a sport. No need to reinvent dressage when it is laid out in front of you in texts that have the wisdom of the ages behind them."

 This is where I hang my head in shame. I want to be an upper level rider someday but when a trainer instructions me to ride "renvers on the long side" or asks me about the training scale, I  reach back into the recesses of my brain and come up with -- fog. My chances of producing the right answer is 60/40 at best. 


  1. I remember being told to "half halt", i don't remember ever having someone explain how. My learner boyfriend got very frustrated by having "Inside leg on" shouted at him, he hadn't left his leg at home, it was still attached at his hip... Conversely i've encountered girls helping at stables who do not understand how to put on a flash bridle, who argue that the girth must only ever be fitted to the first and second billets. Trainers need to explain the hows and the whys better, but we need to study too if we are to maximise our experience.
    I interpret McGoldrick as meaning that you shouldn't try to re invent the wheel or fix what isn't broken. You should instead seek to understand how and why these things work. Many people think that just because they don't comprehend the system it is broken.

  2. If talking classical dressage I would go even further and call it a lifestyle and entire way of thinking. All the serious dressage trainers I know build this kind of study and learning into their lessons. Instead of riding for the test in the next competition, one is riding to improve the horse (and rider's) way of going. It's a whole different thing.

  3. The terminology in Dressage...I can't. I just can't. LOL. I can walk, trot, canter, lope, hand gallop, switch diags and a handful of other things, but that's about it!

  4. Yes, know the terms, know the basics, but so much more of riding is about "feel." All the technicalities and jargon do you no good if you cannot feel when it's correct or your horse has " gotten it."

    I've known many riders and trainers stuck in "the one way of doing it," who never develop the ability to cope with the many little issues along the way when they encounter a difficult horse or an exercise that just doesn't work out according to the rules.

    Know your stuff, know the theory, but also know how to feel when you ride and be ready willing and able to try different methods and techniques when all the book learning doesn't solve the problem.

  5. I am an Adult Am and I do study but I still woudln't get the answers correct. Mainly because I don't use the terms frequently enough and I am over 50. Only so much info can stay in this brain.

  6. When I'm taking a lesson and my instructor says, "Good correction" after I've done ... SOMETHING ... because the horse was "doing something," I very often have NO IDEA what he was doing or what I just did, only that it was "the right answer."

    In my lessons we have the renvers, the travers, and the 'who cares." :o)

    I have LOTS of books on riding--not just dressage but also on h/j because when I got into horses back in the 1970s, that's what I wanted to pursue. I did English, hunter hack, and hunters before there were all the variations--baby green, short stirrup, HUS, etc. Had an instructor tell me you can't learn to ride by READING, but you CAN learn ABOUT riding by reading and you can also experience "feel" if you're really INTO the writer's style and you're trying to remember what he/she is saying so you can replicate it in the saddle (without the article in your hand).


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