Sunday, March 30, 2008

Week 4 of Training

Another weekend, another training update. Brego continues to do well with my wonderful dressage trainer. She is starting to refine the lateral work, and getting him to move off her leg, with only slight pressure. I tend to be very "heavy" with my aids, so my trainer has to continually undo my wok to teach him to listen for super light aids. So far, he's catching on fine.

I only have pictures for now. Hopefully, I can post some video later today.

Her comments this week are that he has two major obstacles to overcome to be truly great at dressage and a really comfortable ride: that ginormous noggin of his and his lazy motor. Now, being a lazy person myself, whose own natural walking stride is somewhere around 0.1 miles per hour, I can totally understand wanting to saunter instead of march. But marching and pushing off the hind end is where the impulsion and balance some from, so we need to reeducate both of us as to what a "working" gait is.

Brego needs to keep his hind end "active" at all times while in training in order to keep him from pulling himself around with his front legs. It's not a terrible vice, but one that keeps his gait from being pure and will always be a hurdle to overcome for more advanced moves. My trainer has mentioned this to me many times in the past, but it's now looming as a real problem as he becomes more educated. It's time to fix it, so we can move on.

The other problem is his head. It's really too large for his body. I saw a 19+hand Hanoverian yesterday and that horse, a full 8 inches taller than Brego, had a much smaller head. To plagiarize a not so great movie, Brego's head has its own gravitational field. That head is an enormous weight just pulling his forehand down. He will need to develop very strong muscles, all along his topline to be able to lift it properly for balance. And as we learned from an excellent treatise on the physical dynamics of dressage "frames", that strength will take much time to develop. As always, it's important for dressage to be for the horse, which means teaching him how to move to lessen negative effects on his own body without stressing him beyond his abilities. So Brego will take extra time, but since I plan on having him around for say, the next 20 years or so, I'm pretty patient.

Finally, several really nice blogs have come to my attention recently which I wanted to mention here. I am excited to see more horse blogs out there, and more interestingly, more "amateur riders finding their path" blogs. Sure it's exciting to read about that top level eventer's latest grips with their groom, but I am captivated by the more real-world problems of how to train your not-genetically-programmed-to-excel-at-X-sport with a limited budget and time. That dilemma, as Fugly points out, is really going to shape horse ownership in the future.

So, I will stop babbling and give a shout out to these great blogs. Please keep sharing and inspiring us all to find our path for the betterment of our horses.
Project Jasper - Love your horse, love your presentation, I would love to hear more about your job and about your background in classical dressage.
I is Roxie - I is in love with your horse. Keepin' it real from Idaho.
Boomer Chronicles - Boomer, thou art handsome and your mom has a gift for describing the Ammie Dilemma perfectly.


Matt said...

So I Married and Axe Murderer was a GREAT movie.

My name is Roxie said...

Hooray! I is famous! Thank u for mentionin that i is bloggin'. I has a crush on Brego an i want to be his lady friend. :-)

Anonymous said...

I just noticed your post today, so thank-you for the mention.
I really don't have much background in classical dressage other than I was with a classical trainer for 5 years riding various school horses. In other words I was brought along very slowly and with many longe lessons! Unfortunately she moved to S. Cal. I'm still a hack. I haven't been riding in 2 years now but I may start up again soon.
Your horse is very handsome. He reminds me a lot of Jasper, although he is a registered spotted draft (I know, he has no spots) - he has some percheron in him. You are an inspiration that drafts CAN do dressage! I look forward to one day kicking some wb butt.
I can't wait to hear how you progress!


BTW, Jasper's head is in another time zone, so you're not alone!