Wouldn't you know it - I found the usernames of both of them, in the same post. Talking about - of course - a classical dressage clinic they were attending. The clinician was, you guessed it, a famous wool hat wearing older dude.
The clinic was being hosted by the trainer who told me the Platypus would be a fabulous big ticket dressage pony, who has since reinvented himself as a classical reiiki dressage master (I bet he has the hat too).
At the clinic, one of them - although she was a training level rider - advanced enough in one hour to be able to do first level exercises. Huh, another miracle. (cue the angels! cue the angels!)
I kid you not. It was like a wessage (and by that I mean...weirdo dressage) trifecta! I guess technically there were four people involved, but I don't know if there is a cool the word for that. Some sort of a menage? You get the gist. Weird attracts and enjoys the company of weird.
This strange convergence aside, I ultimately decided that neither one was worthy of an entire day's story, but I think we can still learn from my mistakes here.
I must say that unfortunately, dressage part board people are even more bizarre than the hunter ones - at least all they really want a someone to teach their OTTB to jump a 3' course without committing hara kiri. The dressage ones want someone to believe that what they are doing is actually "dressage", which is often not the case. Horse that can't jump + rider that won't (or any permutation of the two) does not make a dressage horse, no matter how many buzzwords about "using the hind" or "stepping under" or "through" the person may drop. At least if you are buying , you only need to smile and put up with this shit from the owner for a short window of time. If you are part-boarding, snuggle up! You will be together for a while.
Based on my experiences with them, and others, I would like to suggest some recommendations on how not to choose - or even to go to try out - a "dressage horse to part-board".
1. If the person really, really, REALLY loves the horse - run. You would think this would be a good thing. It's not. Because these people are not just barn blind, they have had their eyes and all neural pathways relating to vision gouged out with hoof picks or something.
There is no such thing as a bad manner, vice, hitchy lame bone jarring gait, or (insert your other favourite undesirable traits here) anywhere, anyhow with these horses. If you happen to notice something behavioural that you obviously mistakenly think you would like to attribute to the horse (example - finding yourself helplessly pinned against the wall wailing OWW OWW STOP CRUSHING ME AND MOVE OVER! MOVE! GET OFF MY FOOT...) you are wrong, bless your soul. You just need more time to understand horses. The way they do.
2. If the biggest selling feature of the part-board deal is any flavour of majical sprinkle, you are in for a rocky ride. Run in fear from any creatively named crossbreeds. For example, the Azteca, Commercial, Georgian Grande, or Gypsy Vanner...anything that says "this horse would be a $2000 draft cross without the fancy name brand label, for which I gladly paid an additional $8000, who wouldn't". I am absolutely not saying that these horses can't be nice dressage horses, but if it is front and central in the ad... be afraid. Well, unless maybe you have a show sheen and comb fetish (I am not judging you if you do).
|Look! A levade! Told you he was talented.|
3. If the horse must only be ridden using the gentlest and most natural techniques, get ready to kiss your shoulder sockets goodbye. It will only be a matter of time until your arms are ripped out of them as the horse bears down on the bendy rubber snaffle or bitless bridle that you are forced to use. On the plus side, your glutes and thighs will be rock hard and shapely, as you tone your legs trying to get the horse to GO without the help of a whip or spurs. I guess if your significant other is an ass man with a passion for J-Lo, it might be a good bet, but otherwise... no.
4. If the horse has never been shown, but the rider is schooling "advanced levels" of dressage, all by themselves (well, besides the classical clinics of course) - that's a big huge red light. Again... not saying it can't happen (I don't intend to show again as long as I live, so I should be understanding on this front and cut them some slack), but generally speaking - trust me, they are going to suck. And if you try to take any corrective action to bring the horse closer to something resembling non-sucking rideability- no matter how gentle or lifesaving it may be (a kick, a pull, an abrupt transition, a harsh word - something/anything other than that irritating little brrrrr noise that people who try to pretend they are European make) - you will be deemed to be a sad, monkey razorblade, competitive rollkur freak.
The funniest thing about both of the women in question is that although they LOVED their PERFECT dressage horses at the time, horses with endless potential - they have both since moved on to other horses for whatever reasons - and guess what, these horses are EQUALLY as perfect. Lord knows what happened to their other gems, I don't remember seeing them at the Olympics, but maybe I was getting some chips or a beer during their rides. And ... surprise, surprise - one has started a horse rescue..but also (anyone? anyone care to guess??) has a stallion, and now calls herself a breeder as well.
Honestly, it would be funny if it wasn't all so darned predictable.