Friday, November 2, 2007

Jumping Rider vs. Riding a Jumper

I found this great article on The Chronicle of the Horse's website. Linda Allen is an international show jumping course designer with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and 1992 World Cup on her resume. She wrote, "Being A Jumping Rider Means More Than Just Riding A Jumper," for the February 23, 2007, issue. The Chronicle requires you to sign in so I can't give you a direct link but if you go to the website and click on "Between Rounds" you will find the article. She writes:

"The more I teach around the country and the world, the more obvious it becomes that there's a world of difference between being able to ride a jumper and being a jumping rider.

Let me describe what I mean: It might not take too long for someone to teach me how to drive a race car around the Indianapolis 500 track; but would this mean I could then race that car in even a moderately difficult race? No, I don't think so!

To not be a menace to myself, the car, and the other drivers, it would take years of practice and experience until I was truly one with the car. Results--and safety--depend on far more than just knowing how to steer, brake and change gears. Being a race-car driver means having finely tuned reflexes--the ability to feel the subtleties of when, where and how much to do things--under all the incredible pressures of a 200-mph race.

How similar this is to riding jumpers! Relatively quickly, one can learn the aids involved to negotiate a basic course on a well-trained horse. But becoming the kind of rider who allows the full talent of the horse to shine through and produces consistent results (without panicking, freezing or over-reacting when things get "interesting") is a completely different story. Natural talent-- in the rider, the horse or both--can help a lot, but even that cannot serve as a substitute for a lot of time in the saddle."

Allen goes on to talk about the importance of a firm horsemanship foundation, as well as, the need for short and long-term goals. I got a lot out of this article and I hope you do too!

Talk to you soon,

Assignment #3: Podcast

Our third assignment was to create a podcast (audio file) for our blog. For mine, I read my "Riding Abroad" post. You might see me podcast again before the semester is over. Maybe I'll interview a trainer or rider from SMC. In the meantime, you can find my first podcast here.

Thanks & talk to you soon,

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Draw Reins

On I found this really good article by FEI dressage rider Lisa Zinger: Using Draw Reins and Side Reins. She writes:
"Before I explain their use, though, let me clarify what side and draw reins are not: They're not shortcuts to force a horse's head down or force his nose to the vertical, or to "muscle him up" or "make him flex" on one side or the other. Used improperly, side reins and draw reins can cause a horse to habitually shorten his stride, stiffen or overbend to evade contact, and become heavy on the forehand; They can also make him sore in the neck and back. And with side reins in particular (not draw reins, which are easy to lengthen or drop in an emergency), a horse unaccustomed to their restrictive feel may bang himself in the mouth and panic, then run backward, rear, get a leg caught in the reins, or even flip over."
I agree with Zinger wholeheartedly. Draw reins are NOT a short cut for good, old-fashion training. They are NOT meant to be used by an inexperienced rider. They a NOT tie-downs. They are NOT meant for horses that are barely walking and trotting under saddle.

In my opinion, draw reins have their time and place but are overused and improperly used (especially in the Hunter/Jumper world) more often than not.

Talk to you soon,

Monday, October 29, 2007

Quick Update

Good Evening (insert spooky vampire laugh).

It's almost Halloween and the weather finally feels like Fall. The horses are getting their winter coats and are feeling a bit frisky with the cooler temperatures.

This past weekend SMC hosted a schooling show for all the clients. I rode a sale horse named Bill in the Low Hunter and Open Equitation division. Everything went really well and it was a huge success. (I'll try to post a picture of Bill later on this week so you can see what he looks like.)

AND, I have some really good news... Tara is back to work. I rode her today for the first time and she felt really sound. I have to admit, it felt really good to be back riding her. She's has her issues (like all horses) but for the most part she is extremely lovely to ride.

The Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament begins October 31st and goes through November 4 at the Oncenter Complex in Syracuse, NY. It is a very prestigious show that includes the ASPCA Maclay Championship and a World Cup Qualifier.

I'll post again soon (hopefully, with a Podcast)!