Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Horsemanship Development

It seems like everyone has a story about their horse education.  Things that they made a conscious effort to learn and things they stumbled across.  I am going to tell you a little about mine.

I happened to grow up in Menomonie, WI which is really no big deal but I was a horse crazy kid and wanted to learn how to ride.  I had done the usual things had my own horse and trail rode for hours and days bareback and learned how to connect with my horse but I wanted more.

I stumbled on dressage because the trainer from Menomonie was a dressage trainer, Amy Gessner, now Amy Larson and no longer from Menomonie.  I took regular lessons and training from her for 10 years.  She was very skilled at talking riders through advanced series of movements and helping them progress.  There were two of us that had a little more trouble - Laurie and myself.  Now many years later I can say with certainty that Laurie's horse had saddle fit issues and my horse had significant teeth issues.  When I was younger, especially in Western WI there was little to no information on either subject.  Now I wish both Laurie and I had a chance to re-visit the excellent technical help with the current saddle fit technology and the sport horse floats that are now available in our area.

The best thing about taking lessons with Amy was the fact that her Saturdays were completely booked and many of the students would have a lesson and then watch others have their lessons.  This was pretty darn nice because you could see things worked out instead of just trying to feel your way through it on your own horse.  I still to this day find myself comparing and contrasting horses to understand what is easy for certain body types of horses and what is difficult.  It was very valuable to train with a group of like minded folks.

After that I took a 2 year stint of taking lessons from Charles DeKunfy and Richard Williams.  These men were equitation folks and really taught me to make my body still and have more body control.  This was always a personal problem I had because I am rather tall.  This was time well spent.

Then I spent about 10 years doing regular clinics with Erin Brinkman.  I will have to call her the pain specialist.  She was very good at adjusting saddles and equipment to allow the horse to be as comfortable as possible.  She is also one of the few people that has near perfect timing with her aids and positioning.  I would jump at the chance to take more clinics with her if she is in our area. 

Lientje Schueler is a regular in this neck of the woods right now.  She has great insights into shoulder and rib cage alignment and how to have better balance with your horse.  She expects the alignment to be just right (it helps so much - so I see why).  Because of the detail and alignment required, I have been especially careful with my floats because any random discomfort will cause problems with this.

It has taken me 30 years to be able to collect all of this information.  I never knew it was going to take so long or be such a deep well of knowledge.  I am thinking the more I know - the more there is to know.  I plan to keep my curiosity in place, I still get a kick out of learning something new.