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So what does the phrase “Training System” really mean?
I have been home for over a week and continue to struggle with how to translate all that I absorbed in the 2.5 months into a few paragraphs...so this is my bumbling attempt at beginning the explanation of what I learned...so bear with me, please.
Throughout my riding career there have been a few guidelines that are absolutes. No deviation from the path of coaxing the very best from the horses through the process of advancing them as far as their talent and my limitations as a rider permit. Sounds easy, right?
In going to Catherine’s stable in FL I had the opportunity to fully immerse myself in the culture of training International Grand Prix horses. No shilly shallying, no fluff or bologna - just the pure goal of getting a good connection, self carriage, quick reactions and straightness in all of the work with maximum expression and harmony.
There were/are clear training steps and a sequential presentation of the exercises for both horse and rider with a firm grasp on what is correct for each and every ride. The young horses are held to an age/fitness/level standard that is appropriate to their individual needs while the upper level horses advance as their innate gifts allow them. The plan is very clear and closely monitored by Catherine and the rest of her staff. The length of my immersion was lengthened as the weather was terrible here at home and I wanted to take advantage to my access to her store of knowledge. Details from the most basic of stable management and horse care to the schedule that is put into effect at top level competitions...those things truly matter and can mean the difference between a top placing and big mistakes.
So, does that make sense?
If anyone wonders why I chose to go to Catherine - here it is in a nutshell - in all the lessons and clinics in the past 3 years, I have enjoyed and benefited immensely with her wisdom and insight in training the horses while trying to overcome my injuries. Her training system reinforces what I have learned from my mother and instinctively want to do - therefore it is a natural progression of what I want to achieve with the horses. It is very, very difficult to bring a horse to the Grand Prix level, let alone do so repeatedly at the International level...so to have access to a system where that is “normal” was an opportunity I could not pass up.