Saturday, January 16, 2016


Horseback riding is a funny business.  I'm sure it's true in other hobbies to some extent, but the horse industry seems to have a particular flair for gurus.  Parelli, George Morris, or Mary Wanless, people find their guru and follow every word that comes from them.  It is the One True Way.

I'm just as susceptible as anyone else.  I loved my Mary Wanless clinic and took away a lot of information.  I've also done a lot of clinics with Sonke Sonksen and he did a good job of converting me to the German way of doing things (though the hunter training was stronger due to proximity).

As I've changed disciplines and geographies, the guru of choice has changed.  My current guru is Dr. Reiner Klimke.  Seriously, just watch this man ride.  I feel more zen just observing him in action.

Next weekend I'll be adding Brad Giuda to my list of clinicians. 

Recognize the horse?  I sure do.  At least Brad knows what we're working with.

The downside to this is the conflicting information.  What one guru says is the Truth, another will call a mistake.  Mary Wanless moved my leg back, but it's been pushed back forward so that I can use all three leg positions as cues.  It's not about balance, it's about being able to cue for movements.  I believe in Mary's theory, but at the same time, I know horses are offering canter because they think it's what I want with my legs back.  I can only dream of having Dr. Klimke's position and seat.  His legs are at the girth.

While looking up comparisons between working and collected trot (Trainer A started us with collected trot today, omg yay party!), I found another website with a self identified dressage master.  He had a video that really helped me with the working trot/collected trot comparison, so I started watching more videos.  I watched the developing collection series.  I think there's some theory here I like.

Crap.  How do I plug this all together?  And then link it in with what Trainer A is doing with us?  We both enjoy our continuing education work and compare notes about things we find, but it's so cluttered.  There are so many roads to Rome that it's easy to get lost.  I could end up stuck at Training Level forever while trying to find my one true path.

I guess this is the part where having educated eyes on the ground that I trust helps.  I'm free to experiment and bring new things in, but she's going to axe anything that actually sets us back.  I think mi papi needs some more time stretching when I'm riding on my own, so the theory of Will Faerber appeals to me.  Trainer A and I agreed that collection work needs to remain in lessons for the foreseeable future so I don't make easy mistakes like getting slow or staying there too long (we're currently doing short bursts, 5 - 10 seconds).  Between lessons, it's conditioning, going forward, and working him over his back to get him swinging.  I saw some exercises that I think will be useful, so I'll start playing with them.

How do we wade through the sea of theories and information out there?  I mean, rollkur has it's proponents and the competition record to support it.  I certainly don't agree with it, but if I was a true riding novice, how would I know to avoid Sjef Janssen, considering he is the coach of so many Olympians? 

The internet has led to many wonderful things, but it's also led to the empowerment of crazy butt whackaloons.  I got a video off of Giddy Up Flix today that was supposed to be identifying pain points and how to release them.  The woman doing the work started talking about how she could think of a nutrient while keeping her hand on the horse, then test for sensitivity to see if the horse wanted that nutrient. 

No, really, I'm serious.  She even stuck the label of the feed on the horse to do a test to see if the horse was digesting the feed well.  She checked to see if the acupressure point on her own hand tensed when she put the food label on the horse (all of the horses wanted the supplement she sells, surprise surprise).

How does anyone navigate the horse guru landscape?

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Klimke makes me wish I was better at dressage. That horse looks so happy to do his job for him and so proud at the end when he gets patted.
    This all makes a lot of sense. Even with GM, while a lot of what he says makes sense, I think he instills too much focus on a pretty picture. His clinics are obviously super informative, but what most people get are the sound bites that are pulled from his training sessions. As someone who's been in the industry a really long time I don't find the barrage of training theories too overwhelming, but I can see how people who are newer or inexperienced, or just haven't worked with many different trainers could have trouble sorting the good from the bad and finding what works for them.