What is Horse Training?

There’s a lot of talk these days about this dressage and that dressage, from Cowboy, to Western, to Doma Vaquera, to Working Equitation, as if they were all different, or that only “this one” is the “true path.” It mystifies me how we can be so exclusive and divisive. I don’t recall that they’ve come out with a new model of horse like they do cars. Horse training is about helping an animal deal with being asked to do something by a person. There’s psychology, as well as bio-mechanics involved. It’s kind of a “six blind men and the elephant”  thing: one says it feels like a rope, while the other says it’s more like a tree trunk. None of us owns horse training. And it’s a personal thing between you and your horse.

Glenn riding western on El Solitario.

When I saddle-up to go check pastures or move cows, I want my partner to be “with me.” I want ol’ Dobbin to sort of read my mind, to respond to my seat and legs and not resist my cues. I won’t have a lot of time for riding two handed, I’ve got things to do with my right hand. I want him balanced under me riding with the reins in my left hand and light to the aids, I want him to have “handle.”

This doesn’t happen in a month or even a year. And the process is not cookie-cutter. Each horse, each activity, each discipline has his own requirements. Working with horses makes us think, as well as to be physical. Each of us has to make our own dressage, and it if it feels good to us and makes sense to our horse, it’s right for us. What gets us there the easiest, however,  is to follow a trail already “blazed” over the millennia, by the horsemen of history.

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