Sunday, March 3, 2013

AMHA Magazine picked up my article - and is running some awesome photos!

American Morgan Horse Association picked up my Dressage Experiment article for their annual Morgan Sport Horse issue, and are running it with really awesome photos.  The issue comes out this month, and I got an advance pdf of the article.  Check it out - here's the first page of the article. Click here for he rest of the article.

Friday, March 1, 2013

My girls

My mares have been absent from my blog posts for a while. A few of you have asked me about them, so I thought I would devote a post to how they are doing.

The reason I haven’t written about them is, well, they are both doing quite well. Blog posts that say “my mares are fun to ride” really aren't that much fun to read. But this week, a student forwarded me a horse personality test, and I had fun answering the questions about my girls. The quiz nailed my girl’s distinctly different personalities so well, and in such a humorous way, that I figured it was a way to spice up a potentially dull blog.

First, Venus. The personality quiz labeled her as “The Wall Flower,” which describes her perfectly.  In the write up, it details this kind of horse as sensitive, sweet, good-girl type in need of strong leadership, but if the leadership gets too strong, the Wall Flower will back off.  This kinda explains why, in the past, she was hard for me to ride–no one would ever describe me as subtle.  I would overpower her, then she would suck back, then I would get all red-headed you-do-your-job-horse on her, and she’d suck back more.  But over time, I've learned to get the balance of leadership and support right, and she makes my heart sing, because man, can that horse move.

I have been humbled by how hard it is for me to ride my good girl. Venus is definitely not loony, spicy or naughty. Quite the opposite--she is very determined to be good. As a professional trainer, no one pays me to ride "good girls." My education was all about learning to ride the kinds of horses most people don’t want to ride. So Venus has given in the opportunity to learn to ride a consistent horse.
My good girl in public :-).

With the help of all of my instructors, friends, and poor strangers who have listened to my struggles, I have learned how to ride my girl. Ironically, for Venus to really shine, I need to back off. After spending my career either settling hot horses or inspiring sour horses, I had to learn to inspire her hind legs enough to create activity without overpowering her confidence, then sit still and enjoy the ride. Most of the time, at least at home, we get it right.

Next, Silly. Silly has, against all odds, return to work sound. I strongly considered breeding her again, but I’m having too much fun riding her.   The personality test calls her “the macho man,” and says if she was a human, she’d wear colors and ride a Harley.  I laughed out loud when I read this, because we have called her “the biker bitch” around the barn for years because of her strong confidence and clear opinions.

One place she differs from her personality profile, though, is she loves dressage (especially the tricks) and likes to teach.  Or rather, she likes telling riders when they are wrong and when they are right. She had been helping me educate riders before her injury, and has returned to that role. She is so popular as a lesson horse that I have to schedule my rides on her.

Those are some amazing ears. 
Silly educates riders with her huge, amazing ears. When a rider is riding her correctly, they flop to the side. When a rider gets the aids incorrect, she flips him back towards the rider, almost like she’s saying “are you sure about that?”  The minute the rider gets the aids correct, Silly returns to the floppy – eared relaxed mare that she is. Silly and I have been together for so long, that I can practically correct the riders mistakes by just watching Silly’s body language.  She is truly a wonderful, giving mare that is a joy to ride.

Like I said, a blog about how well my horses are going is really kind of dull. But at least I can include some  fun photos.

If you are interested in the horse personality test, here’s the web site