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Friday, April 17, 2015

A Legend, some Armor and this a war zone????

As some of you may know, Mom trained at the USET back in the early days of dressage in the US. The renewed trainer Jack Le Goff was in residence and had an accent as well as a habit of speaking bluntly. One of the quotes that has been passed down through the years is, "You do not win zee battle without zee weapon!" as he would wave a whip. Translation - go into every ride prepared to help your horse understand your commands clearly. That is what I want to talk about in this blog and I figured it might carry some additional weight if I quoted a famous person...

What do I mean by "winning"? To begin with - I do not think that we are at war with the horses. I believe it is our job to help develop a language of touch and communication that allows the horse to react to subtle requests in a relaxed and confident manner. Winning is have quicker, more expressive and precise reactions to the most subtle of aids. Over time, the aids become more and more invisible to the untrained eye and the horse becomes more brilliant.

"Zee Weapon" - Could be a whip. It could also be a pair of spurs or a bit that produces the relation of jaw, poll and neck better than a previous choice. The answer may not be bigger, stronger, sharper...and that is something to get professional help with in the 'what if' scenarios! I like to think of the whip as a music conductor's baton - it helps generate better, more consistent rhythm of the hind legs.

"Battle" - each and every stride of every single ride is a training opportunity. I swear. From the moment your horse's toe touches the floor outside the stall, you are training him/her. Be aware of what you allow to happen and how it might affect your relationship.

Stella in ASB boots 
I also mentioned armor in the title. I am huge proponent of using protective legware for the horse. Bell boots, splint boots, polo wraps...all are in use on the horses I ride and only come off for competition. There are many schools of thought on the use and choice of which kind of protection to use and numerous studies have been done on the temperature effects of all of them. Bottom line - I want my horses to be confident that they will not feel pain when they are training. Since I am working on high level exercises as well as training young horses, knocking a fetlock is bound to happen with lateral work and transverse movements. They will learn where their feet go without interfering but it is extremely important that they have confidence while they build the dexterity and strength to do so.

Wyatt wears polos and bell boots
For what it is worth - I like boots for the young horses as they are a bit tougher and can take a bigger whack without much damage. The ASB boots are my favorite for the cost and durability.
I like polo wraps for the upper level horses - customized fit trumps the heat accumulation. If I have a ULH that interferes when lunging (for an example), that horse wears polos under the boots for lunging and the boots come off for riding. VAC makes a nice polo and they are very reasonably priced.
My personal preference for bell boots are the very soft rubber boots. They sometimes have double velcro, but as long as the coronet band and heels are protected, we're set to go.

So there you have it. Like a fairy tale we've put on some armor, dressed for battle and had the weapons at our disposal to emerge victorious!

~Happy Riding!~
Naked legs for a show!

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