Monday, July 20, 2015

DQ and NH

I got to watch a lesson with a rider and a horse I know, with a young DQ I'm also quite familiar with.  I learned some useful stuff, some stuff I think I can apply.  She's good, the DQ, a good rider, a good teacher.  Accomplished.  Young.  "Make the resistance harder than the work."  That was something I heard from K but I could hear it today too.  "He needs to KNOW" blah blah blah.

And it is true.  They need to know.  We need to be consistent.

But there is also this thing called desire.  And horses have it too.  A lot of it is good riding -- horses ridden well like to be ridden.  I remember particularly the grey arab mares in the 3rd quarter pool at MM, and when the two girly girls got them (I do not remember their names), the horses refused jump after jump.  I remember the day Struby let me take one from one of those girls.  I'd had her the previous week if I remember correctly and we'd jumped everything.  She was a horse you had to ride, true enough -- you couldn't point her and sit there.  Thinking back on it it was truly what Buck talks about having the rectangle and keeping the horse in the rectangle.  That little mare would try every side of that rectangle and if there was a crack anywhere, she wasn't going over that jump.  But if you moved the rectangle over that jump, she went picture perfect.  So maybe you couldn't say she had desire;  she wasn't Lucky who when he went in an arena and there were jumps, he said (and you could hear him), "Oh good."  But I don't remember her hating jumping either.

Of course, it was a thing with me then.  And I was never afraid I would get more than I could handle because I knew I could handle *anything*.  Dumb young kid.  But I also remember Out of Luck Charlie.  Oh, I loved that horse.  Everyone hated that horse.  He was known to kick in the stall, and they were tie stalls.  So when I drew him, on Sunday I went to his stall, to his head in the feed isle, with a bag of carrots and I talked to him.  "Look, I'll be riding you and I'd really like to not get kicked so I'll bring you a carrot every day and I won't surprise you and I'll be good to you and you'll be good to me.  Deal?"  He was not naturally forward so talking him into that was . . . interesting.  I got to ride him in one of the BIG group rides for Mrs. M (K) and I got chosen to lead because she knew it would push me and then also push some of the riders on the bigger, more forward horses, just in different directions.  And that was the day Mrs. M said how good I'd become.  It meant the world to me.  Anyway, he never even raised a hoof.  We got along famously.  I even got an A on him on show day but it was because I didn't place at all -- he *always* refused on show day because he'd learned he could, so I took a crop with me and when, two strides out from that first jump he sucked back, he felt that crop and went on and we had a wonderful round but the crop disqualified us but we didn't need it next time at all.

So a lot of it is riding, whether it is that grey arab or Charlie -- if you can get them to want to do for you, they will.

But there is also deeper relationship, at least possible.  And there are also the horse's responsibilities.  And those are likely things I've really only learned theoretically in the last four years even if I knew some of it intuitively before.

You know, a horse may be obedient and not spook badly at something, but that doesn't mean he trusts his rider OR that he is brave -- only that he is more dreadful of the consequences of spooking badly.  Obedient is good, but sometimes you have to listen to your horse too.

I know I'm not the first person to be trying to look at these things.  I'm certainly not the most talented or gifted person to do it.  I'm too old.  I want to be open, to try it, but I also want to be on the horse's side of this thing.  "I'm here for the horse."  Ray said that.  Likely Tom too.  I try to tell people who work, "There isn't a list of tasks that have to be done and then the job is done.  The job is to take care of the horses and you do certain tasks to do that but you might have to do more than that."  Or sometimes even less than that.  I try to tell people, "Every time you do anything with any horse, you are training that horse."  The relationship with that horse cannot be all one way, top down.

Can you go low deep and round if you give immediately?  Can they learn to step that inside hind up under and cross over from hq yields?  Can they be attentive to the rider without having to be told every step?  Can you know exactly where every foot is without riding every step?  Does dressage have to destroy a horse's hocks?  Can I ride a horse and not make them reticent to go forward (wtf)?  When is it set it up and wait and when is it "I said now"?

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