Thursday 11 October 2012

You say outside.. I say inside... you say canter...I say travers...canter, travers, canter, bout you get the hell off...

Well, it was a rainy long weekend here in Canada... and you know what that means.  I have had time to go on a few bulletin boards and do a bit of stalking.  I don't do this as often as I should, and as a result I miss great opportunities to share. 

For example, one post that was already pretty dead when I got there was about white gloves - wear them / don't wear them, blah blah blah, and most of all, what a pain they are because they always get filthy.

Had I been earlier to the party, I could have shared my "white glove/smooth ass" protocol:

- buy only white gloves of synthetic material with the little plastic nibby things on the palm and fingers
- after your gloves get dirty (read: after one show, possibly after one class or one warm up, or just after leading your horse to the warm up), wear the gloves while you take your next shower
- use plenty of nice body wash, and scrub your butt and other scaly areas with the little plastic nibby things while you shower
- rinse foamy black horse filth and skin particles generated during exfoliation off of your butt
- rinse and wring gloves out when you are done and hang on line.

Voila - you have clean gloves and a smooth ass, and your secret is safe with me.  Win-win. I have yet to try wearing my filthy white breeches in the shower and scrubbing THEM with the white gloves, but that option on the theme would probably work too.  Which idea is better?  Well, your breeches would be clean, however your butt would not be as well exfoliated.  As with many other things in dressage, it really comes down to deciding on your priorities, and following through with a plan.  I can't make this decision for you.

Ahhh, I am feeling smoother already.
Anyway, the post that caught my eye today was the one on canter aids for dressage horses, and whether or not a horse that has been taught to canter from an outside leg aid is a good bet as a dressage prospect.

WTF?  Really?

If this is really and truly your biggest concern regarding whether or not you should buy any given dressage horse, I certainly hope your budget is in the comfortable six-figured range that will allow you to become picky about totally irrelevant things.  In the grand scheme of things this "problem" is right up there with pimple on ass or mane not silky enough (as many posters have pointed out).  If you can ride your way out of a wet paper bag, you can fix this "issue" in about a week.

However, as stupid as I feel this question may be, the discussion did get me thinking about something that dressage people say that drives me a bit insane.  It also gives me a chance to do some reverse hunter-bashing, since I have been a bit harsh on these posing prissies the last few posts...(oops, I am doing it again, aren't I.  Sorry, it is a compulsive habit) and as Anonymous 6 October 2012 10:23 pointed out, GM (that is "Gee the Man" George Morris people!) can do smokin' hot tempis when mounted on a totally trained horse.  (To Anonymous 6 October 2012 10:23 I say... wow, how about that NHL lockout!  When do you think we will see them back on the ice?)

Dressage people of the world, if you ever find yourself uttering the phrase:

Ha ha, I let my hunter friend ride Schnecke yesterday, and she couldn't even get him to move, let alone canter!  Stupid hunter people.  They can't ride at all.  We are so much better than them.  

Consider this...maybe you are better than them.  Maybe you aren't.  But if a five year old cannot get on your horse and make it go forward and DO STUFF, there is the possibility that a big part of the problem is that your horse is just not all that well schooled.  Perhaps what you have been doing is not creating a finely tuned dressage horse, but instead painstakingly crafting a surly douchehorse that no one enjoys riding but you. (Just throwing it out there).

The stuff that they do may be eye-burningly bad.  But regardless...your horse should go forward when leg is on, yield to contact, swing butt to-and-fro when lateral aids are applied (even poorly and if that is in no way the intention of the rider), and move sideways and forward in some sort of leg-yeildy/half-passy direction if asked to do so.  And yes - if outside leg is back, and inside leg is on - horse should make some attempt to canter, probably in an aggressively haunches-in position - but canter nonetheless.

There are some things your horse may not be able to do with a beginner rider on board - clean flying changes are one of them, since if your horse is falling on the forehand with a rider on its neck, it will be nearly impossible for him to get his haunches down and under to jump through properly (this may also be observed at the end of a line of 4's if adult am dressage rider finds herself in the same place on horse's neck due to her inability to keep her ass in the saddle for five consecutive changes.  So I have heard).

But with a little instruction, lots of the "tricks" should be easy, if not totally pretty. After all, I have seen Mr. Motard - who really can't ride at all - execute beautiful mediums on a retired GP oldster, doing nothing other than sitting back, hanging on for the ride, and screaming "w-w-w-h-h-h-e-e-e-r-r-r-e-e-e i-i-i-s m-y-y-y b-a-a-g-g-g s-u-p-p-p-o-s-e-d-d t-o-o-o b-b-e-e-e I-I-I a-m-m c-r-r-u-s-s-h-h-h-i-i-n-n-g m-m-y-y-y n-u-t-t-t-s".  (I was unable to answer the question).

(With no instruction at all, the horse will eventually give up and start giving the finger, which is why buying a schoolmaster and not keeping them in training is a stupid idea, as has been pointed out by many as well.  Which is no different in hunter, is it?  Anyone ever heard the one about the poor beginner who bought the point-n-shoot that will no longer jump a stick and is now winning the hack division?)

I desperately did not want Ms. V to become the surly douchehorse that no one wants to ride.  But I knew that the odds were against me, as clinic season was beginning here in Ontario, and there were lots of opportunities to pull up an uncomfortable lawnchair, wrap myself in the smelly trunk blanket, and watch and learn.  Good clinics this time, put on by decent barns, with a few excellent riders.  Along with many, many adult ams who were busily creating exactly this type of beast.

And one thing that became quite evident is that although much is said about the evils of "crank" - and it does make for great photo opps for the rabidly anti-deep-n-round crew - really, a good blue-tongue inducing crank takes a degree of strength, athleticism and determination that many of us adult am ladies don't possess. It is just not observed that frequently in our circles.  A gentle nagging spur-whip-spur-whip is much more our speed, isn't it....


  1. I should not have read this entry at work. When I am laughing to the point of tears, the boss realizes I am NOT writing a flattering story for the third ceramic tile and STAINMASTER carpet dealer with a page in the upcoming Home Show program.

    Floors are just not that funny, and floor dealers aren't that amusing, either.

    Anyway, I agree with you about the endless debate(s) over trivialities. Much more amusing than floor stores ;o)

  2. You hit this one out of the park! My sides hurt from laughing so hard. Now I know how to clean my gloves and butt and I've always wondered what guys do with their package when they ride.

  3. I agree that horses should be trained in a manner that the great unwashed masses can at least get w/t/c from them and strive to do so. But when a terrified clothespin shows up to try a dressage trained horse, you generally have some terrifying moments when the horse is cantering on a 45 degree angle halfway up the kickboards because they have no idea how to use the outside rein....what the hell do you do then? I refuse ti 'dummy down' my horses so that hunter princesses can ride them, but i'm kind of a bitch that way.

  4. Oh. My. God. I am SO happy you said that about scaley butts. I was getting worried it was only me! SOO many of my non horsey girl friends talk about how they love how their butts and boobs are just soooooo smooth and soft.

    Mine's not. mine's like bumpy. and dry.
    good advice too, thanks.

  5. I am always worried when i get to know really high level dressage riders that their horses are just unridable by anyone less capable than them.
    SO i was nervous to get on my coach's horse.

    Now I know how horses are supposed to feel when they're relaxed with impulsion and don't need any leg pressure/kicks/clamping to move. A properly trained high level dressage horse, if they have the personality for it, should be able to give pony rides to a kid, i think.
    Unless the kid's a jerk

  6. "Perhaps what you have been doing is not creating a finely tuned dressage horse, but instead painstakingly crafting a surly douchehorse that no one enjoys riding but you."

    You, ma'am, win the internets! :D "Douchehorse" is now firmly etched in my vocabulary.

  7. "surly douchehorse"

    Oh, Curmudgeon, you are the BEST!

    Please blog more, there is a long winter to get through.

  8. Wait.. I think I own a "douchehorse"!!!
    OMG I had my Motard(ish) husband laughing while reading this to him.
    My "douchehorse" is a saddlebred cross, I have only had 3 people on her, one of those took a lesson on her.
    I offered to let a friend ride her, and he said "No WAY! she's psychotic!"
    I love her though,
    And this entry ROCKED> I was splitting my sides reading this!

  9. Time for me to insert a (tiny) brag: I, Hunters-only-my-whole-life-person, climbed aboard my friend's brand new dressage-trained horse, whom she had not been able to get one step of canter out of (and who she planned to use for a little foxhunting, a little trailriding and not much else). Somehow I managed to push the right buttons and VOILA - a marvelous rocking horse canter. I'd never felt anything like it! I was pretty proud of myself. So I guess her guy was not a total douchehorse. :-)

    Fast forward eleven years. Fancy dressage-trained beastie is now strictly a trail mount, and responds nicely to pretty much any old half-assed attempt at asking him to canter. He's a good boy. I'm glad somebody back in Germany took the time to train him properly, and I'm glad YOU apparently took the time needed to train Ms. V not to be a right royal PITA!

  10. And then there are those of us who bought our horses knowing they were douchehorses. :)

    My horse apparently had strong opinions about the people who tried him out, enough that his owner insisted I couldn't buy him unless I had at least a two week trial first to ensure we got along. For whatever reason he picked me, I was looking for a horse I never planned on re-selling, and he loved my trainer as well. He is at his best behavior with my mom which is why she is no longer allowed to ride him - as he will canter off leg or seat, if she shifts weight because she feels unstead he will likely take off in a canter thinking he's being good, and I'd rather not risk her being taken unawares and hurt. There's only one other person who has ridden him since I bought him with whom he hasn't either flat out taken off, taken off bucking, or just been absurdly nutty.

    He is a complete douchehorse to most people. But I adore him and he's progressing and improving in his work as if I had a clue and weren't a former hunter rider who has yet to break the bad habits. And he cost me about 1/2 or less what he should have given his level of training and competition record because of the fact he's a douchehorse. The only exception is for people like my mom who are terrified - he's great for scared riders and very, very careful with them.

    I predict my new youngster will be the opposite - where my gelding is extremely particular the new filly appears to want to do the right thing every time, for everyone. It will be nice to have a horse I can put people on and let them get the idea of what a dressage horse is supposed to be like!

  11. Your description of Mr. Motard's riding reminded me of my son's first lessons as a 16 year old. He was too polite (or embarassed) to say anything to the instructor, but she noticed him having trouble walking after the lesson and switched to her husband's saddle for future lessons.

  12. Wonderful post! Poor Mr Motard - one of those military saddles for the future???