The Rest of the Cave Creek Story

Well, I promised last week to bring you, “the rest of the story “as Paul Harvey used to say. So here it is. In 1971 I found a book, a paperback, in a store in Denver, Colorado titled simply “Dressage”. I’d never heard of dressage, but the book had a picture of a woman riding a horse on the front, so I gathered that it had something to do with riding. It was written by Henry Wynmalen, and had photos of him and others riding on English saddles, in very collected frames. I was in search of something more in my horse training. I practically ate the book. Then we began searching for teachers of this “dressage”. To make a long story even longer, we finally found teachers whose methods were based on the old French masters concept of lightness. We turned the corner with lessons from Diana Christiansen who had studied in Portugal with now famous Nuno Oliveira. Gradually we began to catch on to the ideas of a Frenchman named François Boucher, who advocated relaxation of the jaw of the horse, and balance with soft contact on the reins. We rode Diana’s Andalusian horses, all trained to Grand Prix level, to do Piaffe, and flying lead changes at the canter. Eventually I found myself starting colts for her, and we finally bought our first Andalusian stallion from her. After a couple of decades we now have a small herd of Spanish (PRE) and Portuguese (Lusitano) horses. And, we’ve found an instructor named Manuel Trigo, who teaches lightness as a proof of balance, largely with these Iberian horses. And that brings me to why I was in Cave Creek Arizona, last week – working with Manuel on lightness and balance.

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