Sunday, October 27, 2013

Twisted Roads, Twisted Truths

Hudson and I took an hour-long trailer trek over hill and day yesterday to Second Chance Thoroughbred’s open house in Spencer, NY.  Our goal was to catch a ride with Ashley Haffey, of Lane Cove Dressage, who was there giving lessons based on the concept that dressage, done well, creates a lightness in a horse.
I feel a dressage tirade coming on.

Instead of that, let me recommend that those interested in learning more about the philosophy of creating lightness in a horse through kind training and natural movement should pick up a copy of Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage, a Search for a Classical Alternative by Karl Phillipe.
It was a good lesson, and a hard one.  I had to try to figure out how to use my hands in a way I never have, and to NOT use my legs in the way I always have.  Hudson had to try to figure it all out under me, and I feel sorry for her.  She is a cooperative horse, but I wasn’t being a very good teacher.

And I learned my mighty race horse has not been taught to do a canter depart in an arena.  Since I never ride her in an arena, and I’m the only person who rides her, and I never taught it to her, this can hardly be surprising.  We can go from halt to a full gallop on a trail, but ask for a normal canter depart in an arena and it’s off to the trot races.
Is there lightness in there, somewhere?

So I have two jobs ahead of me.  One is to try to apply the lessons Ashley imparted, and the other is to get a nice canter depart from my big heavy girl.  

As usual, Hudson was exceptionally well behaved, allowing me to tack her untied in the grass of a strange farm in 20-mile-an-hour winds with two young thoroughbreds running excitedly around in the pasture next to which we were standing. 

Since it was just Hudson and I on this trip, I was grateful to have a horse as confident and cooperative as Hudson. I consider myself lucky for this, every time we go out together (and most of the time in between.)

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