My friends and I went to see a dressage trainer yesterday. I don’t remember his name, and it really doesn’t matter. This guy was someone that my friends liked a lot, and wanted to see teach, hoping to ride with him one day themselves. Curious as I am, I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at the guy and see how he was training the horses and the riders at an event like that. It’s free to look, right?
Also, I have never found a dressage trainer, or show jumping trainer for that matter, I could agree with, so I was kind of hoping that this guy would be different. No doubt, I can still learn a lot, and some day in the future I might be able to afford lessons with him, right? Saleem needs to grow up anyway, there is a lot I can teach Saleem on my own, but once he gets to the point where Apollon was when he died, the passage, piaffe, stuff like that, point, I do need help.
My friends and I arrived at the training event to see him teach a pony I know from a farm close to my stable. This pony is a HUGE talent, the girl that rides him is a real talent as well, but they do have a few issues. The pony is very tense, he tightens his neck line and lowers his back. He spooks a lot too. The girl handles him the best way she has learned, and she has managed to get very far with him despite their issues.
And yes, I call it issues, not real problems. Of course, the pony is not supposed to be tense, but from where I am standing, looking at this pony, I see a nice little horse, that works hard and does everything he possibly can for his rider. I see a pony with a saddle problem, causing him to lower his back. I see a pony that has been “held” at the reins and has learned to tighten his neckline. I see a pony that, when he spooks, does so because once in a while, he just NEEDS to avoid the tight rein and the saddle.
In my eyes he is a very honest horse.
As we walked into the hall, the first thing I heard this trainer say was, “when he spooks, just kick him so hard in the ribs that he won’t remember his own name. He is just naughty.” Then he realized that the girl’s father was recording them on video and he turned and said, “don’t post this online.”
I almost left instantly. Any kind of respect I might have hoped to have for this guy, just died right there. No matter how good he is, how skilled, how brilliant at dressage, I cannot accept that kind of statements.
First off, NO horse is EVER just naughty. Any trainer that would use that old, worn out excuse to punish the horse, knows nothing of horses. Sorry, but everything inside me is screaming to hear that.
Second, IF he really did believe that the pony was “just naughty,” then stand by it. Why would it matter if it was posted online, unless he knew it was wrong of him to say something like that to a little girl?
So no, once again, I have not found anyone who I would like to trust to help me train my horses, but you know what, I have been on my own all my life. I guess that even if I never find anyone, we are better off than by settling for someone like that.
One must wonder though, are there no decent trainers anywhere? Do those who train their horses fairly never get to the top? Are we just bound to stand at the sidelines watching the others ride, while we are still desperately trying to figure out why our horses spooks once in a while?
I can honestly say, I want to compete, but not at any prize. Apollon spooked a lot too. Any trainer that would have told me to “just kick him so hard he couldn’t remember his name,” would have got me killed. Apollon would have snapped. He ALWAYS had a reason when he spooked, and telling him off was NEVER the answer. I have yet to meet a horse where it is.
Still, surprisingly, a lot of horses put up with that kind of treatment. Those who don’t, end up labeled “trouble,” and that’s where they end up with someone like me, the Natural Horsemanship trainers, who actually bothers to ask the horse “why.”
One would wish that there were more professional trainers in the world of horses, who bothered to ask that question, instead of just suppressing the symptoms and forcing the desired result in any way they see fit.
I do know myself well enough by now though, to know that I am DONE. I have met too many people like that in my life. I have no time for them, no patience with them, no desire to ever have my name mentioned in connection with them. If 18 years as a horse owner, 15 years as a Natural Horsemanship trainer, has taught me anything it is this: You have to stay true to yourself and never compromise on behalf of your horse.
To make things better, FEI are now thinking about allowing a total ban of cameras in the warm up areas at shows, in order to protect the reputation of the world of horses.
What? Excuse me, WHAT? Say that again?
Well, that is one way to solve the Roll Kur problem. Just make sure no one sees it and catches it on tape, and posts it online. You have got to be kidding me.
I mean, sure, it would give the world of dressage a much better reputation, if no one knew what went on, but how about FEI grew a pair and banned Roll Kur for good instead? How about allowing cameras everywhere and banning anyone who got caught violently abusing their horse?
No, I will never be part of that world. I will never be able to understand or accept that kind of thinking. And even though I try, I will never be able to stop bitching about it either. Someone needs to say it once in a while. It might as well be me.