Friday, June 11, 2010

Is Riding Still Fun? Are You Practicing FUNdamentals?

My favorite riding icon half passes across the YouTube screen and I dream of riding like that. I've poured over DVDs, riding theory books, studied my favorite mentors, and I'm trying SO HARD to improve. Things aren't going well though.

I sometimes find myself wanting to point out that the majority of riders, while calling it classical dressage, are mostly going through motions---with limited success and plenty of frustration for themselves and their equine friend. Most riders would be better served spending their riding hours working on their own riding posture and allowing the "dressage" to take care of itself. Riders are too often seen doing pretzel contortions on their horses, and trying to micro-manage a list of do's and don'ts;they are making their horses crazy. Show me twenty-one riders trying to define or demonstrate decent self- carriage and I'll show you one rider who gets it. Sometimes I want to post "just go out and get on your horse and have a good time!" If your horse is happy you just might be doing something right---even by accident.

Correct rider posture and breath (is your horse breathing--relaxed, snorting, blowing, making happy sounds? are YOU breathing too?) are the basis for freedom of optimum movement.

As human critters we desire learning and perfections. The twist comes when we dissect and micromanage through our over-intellectualizations---and we cannot seem to resist these. We then swing from one extreme to another in our quest to understand and perform to our expectations.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the simplicity of horsemanship. The FUNdamentals should always maintain an element of FUN, otherwise the results will be lackluster. FUNdamentals and FUNctionality.

I am always reminded of Ivy, and wanting to ask "are you having as much fun as Ivy and her gelding? If not, why not?" (View her most recent journeys at: )

Despite the strengths of the hallowed classical dressage exercises, sometimes riders sabotage the very thing they aim towards by narrowing their focus too much.

Mix up your horse time, your training time. Make a gymkhana course and trot from one point to another in a brisk cadence with a good halt. Look up, go to the next cone with clean departs and halts. Instead of drilling and trying SO HARD, try putting those hallowed principles into a more interesting format.

You get the drift.

Julie W.

More fun with horses?