Friday, October 30, 2015

Yo! It's me, Mugs

Hi guys. It's been a while. Don't feel too neglected, I haven't been writing at all. Not even thank you notes and I owe a few.
My return is going to be marked by change. I still think of things I'd like to write about, but I don't, because I don't think in my old old format.
For the past year, I've been moving.
Moving forward, thank goodness, but at a snails pace.
 I realized, that in order to keep writing, I have to write about my current life, the one filled with a husband who has been ravaged by a stroke, and learning, observing and training dogs. I have to write about my new reality, Parkinson's Disease, the Vaudeville slapstick routine it has made of my existence and of course, the horses, but it's so very different now.
It's taken me a bit to accept this.

     Yep. This is my new house. We have almost 10 acres. My barn and fence are in progress. I will finally have my horses, my dogs and my husband in the same place. If you look close, you can see my studio.

Life is good.
Talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Collection - What we do.

Excerpt from the FEI definition of collection:

The position of the head and neck of a Horse at the collected paces is naturally dependent on the stage of training and, to some degree, on its conformation. It is distinguished by the neck being raised without restraint, forming a harmonious curve from the withers to the poll, which is the highest point, with the nose slightly in front of the vertical. At the moment the Athlete applies his aids to obtain a momentary and passing collecting effect, the head may become more or less vertical. The arch of the neck is directly related to the degree of collection.

I pulled this from the FEI's definition of collection. I have absolutely no issue with it. None.

Let me start with conformation.

The little paint is a quality reining bred yearling. The chestnut (gray?) is a quality yearling Danish Warmblood. Look at the slope of the shoulder, the haunches and the tie-in point on each neck.

Look at the flat croup and the neck tie in and the shoulder on the gray. This build gives him the ability to provide the up and down movement desired in dressage. 
The lower head set in a quarter horse comes from his build. The heavily muscled, long, sloping croup allows him to step under himself and round his back, creating balance and lightness with his "long and low" way of going.

I am not going to get into a discussion about peanut rolling pleasure horses or the crazy low heads of reiners. Both were fads, both are slooooowwwwly leaving the show ring.

I do know that the lowered head on he reiners scored high for degree of difficulty, but I think it's no longer the ideal.

The pleasure horses? I don't know. It's just show crap.

This is a Ranch Pleasure competitor. It is not crap. It may be the salvation of the western pleasure horse.

I can only explain how I train my horses. It's how I was taught to create a round frame, which lengthened the horse's stride, lightened the front end and increased our ease of maneuvers. Lightness through the shoulders, drive and power from the hindquarters...that's our goal.

The low head set comes from drawing up the horse's barrel with pressure from our legs. Try sucking in your stomach and rounding your back, check out what your neck does.

Lightness comes from bending, transitions, half-passes, side-passes, turns on the forehand, serpentines, shoulders in, haunches in....

When each maneuver is correct (no matter what level), the steps deepen, the back rises, the shoulders lighten and the poll lowers...and we encourage it.
The legs go deep, the back curves, the head drops...legs are off...bit is not even there.

Can't spin on  heavy front end.

Excerpt from the FEI definition of collection:
The aim of the collection of the horse is:
i) To further develop and increase the balance and equilibrium of the horse, which has been more or less displaced by the additional weight of the rider.
ii) To develop and increase the horse’s ability to lower and engage his quarters for the benefit of the lightness and mobility of his forehand.
iii) To add to the "ease and carriage" of the horse and to make him more pleasurable to ride.

Some people want this

Some people want this

You want lift?

We get in the dirt

Collection is all about getting what we want while helping horses create a way of going that keeps them in balance. Both disciplines use the same techniques to develop our horses, with a few variations thrown in to compliment the conformation of our horse.

I am sick of talking about collection.
I could have done all kinds of charts and diagrams, but I didn't feel like it.
This is the simplest, clearest way I could address it.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Collection begins in the back and ends at the front. It's all in the feet.

The end.

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