Wednesday 2 May 2012

We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there... but no need to rush.

Wow, am I ever feeling calf jacked.

No, not really.  But I didn't get a chance to use this today in conversation, and I promised I would.  Tomorrow is another day, I will try again to do it properly.

Thanks Mom

So, off I went in search of the perfect boarding / lesson horse / dressage coach set-up.

I did have a few things working in my favour that were not present when I initially started my dressage oddesy.

1.  I had a new job, in a new location.  So whereas I had been looking to the West - now I would be looking to the East.  A whole new hemisphere of nutcases was waiting out there for me to investigate.  Hmm, maybe this wasn't actually "in my favour".  But it was different, in any case.

2.  I did have my own 3 year old now - with potential.  And by potential, I mean - potential for the right, motivated coach to earn a decent amount of cash off me for many years to come, as we slogged on up the levels.  A horse that might actually be nice enough for them to show too, and not a public embarrassment as the cantankerous, opinionated, and screamingly Arabian Platypus would have been. 

3.  I was also ready to move to - wherever.  I wasn't trying to find a travelling coach willing to venture into a H/J land stable with an arena full of jumps and wig-waggy riders trying to show off their "dressage" expertise to them.

So finding motivated help should have, in theory, been easier than before. 

The real sticking point in this whole affair was of course, the "finding the lesson horse" part.  This was of critical importance to me for more than one reason.  Ms. V was just turning 3, and although I did hope to get her back under saddle fairly soon, there would be a good six months of fairly boring, short rides ahead.

Oh so important rides, Dressage Curmudgeon.  Possibly the most important rides of all.  As the Masters correctly reminded us, you cannot undo, what you do, 

And skidoo, pile of dog doo..yah, yah, I know, whatever.  Yes, really important stuff, no doubt.  However - for my sanity, I needed something else less walk/trot/halt/doze to enjoy and improve on. I wanted to be a better rider when she really got rolling, not just an older, stiffer, more coated in rust rider, who still couldn't sit the trot.

Also for her safety - I wanted something else equine for my new dressage coach (whoever that would be) to teach me on, so there would be no temptation (on her part or mine) to start pushing the two of us faster or farther than we really should have been going at any given time.

Yes, I knew from the bulletin boards that the next thing to fear, more than fear itself (except maybe monkeys with razorblades)... is RUSHING YOUR HORSE.

"RUSHING YOUR HORSE" did not only entail whether you climbed aboard too soon or not.  The issue just kept on going.  On and on.  You can be accused of "rushing" your horse at any time. There are actually people out there that think that schooling GP just as the horse is retiring is timing things juuuussst about right.  Your horse can piaffe right on up to the hole the backhoe has dug just for him, then...Kablam!

What sort of things might lead those around you to gossip behind your back (or on bulletin boards) and say that you are... RUSHING YOUR HORSE.

Well, it is quite clear that you are most likely to be accused of "RUSHING YOUR HORSE" by anyone with a horse that is older, yet further behind in their training than your horse is. They might share their opinion on the subject with you by phrasing it something like this... "Oh, you are starting half-steps with Stormy, how nice.  I am focusing on training Tortoisa correctly".  (Try not to punch them in the face.  If you can).

If your horse ever shows any sign of resistance - to anything - there is probably someone watching you from the sidelines who thinks you are ... RUSHING YOUR HORSE.  (Alternative therapies often help in these cases that seem - on the surface - to stem from resistance.  I suggest poking an accupuncture needle adorned with a flaming marshmallow in the onlooker's eye.  No see - no problem). 

Or...say there is something that your horse just naturally does well, due to genetics or conformation, aided by exceptional riding and starting, and so the trainer chooses to go ahead and play with whatever this equine physical ability happens to be now and then.  Maybe some lengthen steps in trot.  Or some piaffe in hand.  Look out!  According to the railbirds, whether they are actually present and know you, or are just kicking back and blowing time surfing youtube on a rainy may very well be ... RUSHING YOUR HORSE.

This is the strangest one.  If you saw a young child with exceptional reading skills enjoying a pithy tome, you wouldn't slap the book out of their hands and say "NO!  GET BACK TO DICK AND JANE!  NO TOLSTOY FOR YOU!"  You would be amazed, yet depressed at the same time as you thought of your own child who can't even crap in a toilet yet, let alone relax and enjoy a good read while doing so. would push your green envy aside, and still encourage the precocious little freak of nature to keep on enjoying what will eventually lead him or her to become a more rounded, better person. 

Wow, this is really boring.
But when it comes to horses.. at any given time, you can see videos or pics of the most remarkable animals ever foal jacked (thanks read for comprehension woman!),  horses that barely seem to be products of equine genetics present on the planet earth, doing incredible, beautiful, and to them, natural things - followed by comments from people who themselves are riding downhill QH's (or whatever - insert your favourite non-purpose bred for dressage equine here), slamming the owners of the heavenly horses for "rushing" them, for their own evil pleasure and profits, using trick riding, rollkur, blah blah. Whatever.

Regardless of how stupid this seems now... I did worry about it at the time.  Ha ha, it is funny really, isn't it.  Please! Stop horse, stop!  You are moving up the levels just tooo quickly!  Everything seems soooo easy, it must be wrong!  Stop floating around in this effortless passage!  Waahh!

If only life were really like that, eh?



  1. Just so you know, there are actually people who call themselves teachers who will slap the Tolstoy out of a kids hands. My kindergartner loves to talk and uses lots of big words, which led to her teacher asking us if we could help her 'restrict her vocabulary while at school because her peers don't understand her.' I could've really used the flaming marshmallow stick at that moment.

    1. I think I need to patent the sticks for multiple uses. If I need someone to do field trials on teachers, I will let you know.

  2. I have definitely seen horses who were rushed. In QH-land. You know, where horses are started at 18 months or younger, have their legs run off in a round pen (no longe line, no training value - goal = exhaustion) then ridden in a gag-wire-curb draw reins and lame by 2 years old. The normal "rushed" horse as so accused by dressage riders is competently trained. If it's a horse who is sour, it is because of incompetence, not rushing!

  3. The "rushing" I worry about most is over riding a young horse before its body is physically ready. It does take muscles and conditioning to perform at the upper levels and both of those take time. Sure, it's OK to practice some of the exercises if a horse's natural talent does them with ease, but certainly not to drill them to perfection. Dressage does take time and the trainer needs to be sensitive to the horse's physical strength and soundness at all times.

  4. Pithy and perceptive. Fun post.

  5. I think you meant "foal-jacked", not? (Although, pulling a foal from the birth canal in a calf-like fashion is a very bad idea.)

    I have not frequented the bulletin boards in several years. Your assessment of myriad ways the DQs take themselves oh-so-seriously on-line is spot on and makes me giggle.

    1. Heeeey... you are right. I will fix that - thanks.

  6. Ooooo!! I've gotten the 'RUSHING' comment before.... from a certain forum lol! My other favorite is 'OVERFACING'. For example... trying to convince my mare to make a full circle around the arena despite the scary liverpool jump on one side (she would stop and then back up at one point... everytime). I can hear the comments from the forum right now... OMG don't push your mare into situations like that. Don't overface your mare or yourself. Neither of you are competent/ready for that kind of challenge because its... .. SCARY!!! *rolls eyes*. FWIW after two balks I had her trotting circles around the damned thing like it didn't even exist. hmmpfffff.

  7. I'm such a bad person, I have asked my 5 yr old welsh cob to do a few half steps...will i burn in dressage hell? Since he does them in the paddock just for shits and giggles,I figured it was OK tp do them under saddle. My bad I guess

    1. When he shows arthritic changes in his hocks at the age of 28, we will know who to blame.

  8. Yep...LOL...Most people can't tell the difference between rushing and over-doing. It's not rushing anything if you have a horse that is naturally inclined to do what you are asking them to do. That's the whole point of breeding for/buying a horse that shows potential in the area you are interested in. Over-doing anything they are not physically ready for is another matter entirely.