May 9, 2012

Back to Bryan

And so, back to Crips R Us Farms, and to Bryan.

Remember the tale of the three blind men and the elephant? Blind man number one feels the trunk and says ‘The elephant is like a snake!’ Blind man number two feels the legs and says ‘The elephant is like a tree!’ Blind man number three feels the tail and says ‘No! The elephant is like a rope!’ In the meantime, Mr. Elephant is rolling his eyes and thinking ‘Morons!’

Some people love feet. Some people love the chiropractor. Some people think its all muscular. Some people buy endless saddles. But a horse can only be the *sum of its parts*. Rehabbing has to include fixing the things that are ‘wrong’, i.e. skeletal and muscular and foot and tack issues, and doing what is ‘right’, as in ridden and ground work. You can’t just change the shoeing, the hoof balance, the tack, the skeleton, the muscle system. You have to address each system in turn and return it to its default setting, which in the horse is ‘sound’ and ‘benign’. But you can do all of those things and still have only limited success.

Because if you do all of these things, and then *ride the horse crookedly* you are doing that rope/peeing thing.  

It will never work. Lather, rinse, repeat. It will never work.

Another analogy. You are a runner. And you have to run piggybacking another person. That person leans and pokes you from the right every step you take. In no short order you are going to be sore and crooked and unable to run well. I won't belabor the sad vision of you being whacked and scolded for being crooked and lazy, but trust me, that's what would happen. And then your rider would call out the therapy troops, massage you and chiro you, but continue to ride you this way. Because your xrays would look ok, the vet would say you were fine. Eventually your soft tissue would break down, and that would be the end of your performance career.

It really is vital that the rider develop his own straightness and balance, which is no easy task. Only *then* will he be able to deliver an aid clearly. And then comes the most important part of all: You must ALLOW THE HORSE to EXECUTE the request.

I tell clients to listen to this very carefully. Your responsibility as a rider is to be utterly independently balanced and ambidextrous, laterally and sagitally. Only *then* can you  deliver a correct aid. And then, you must be physically capable of *allowing the horse do what you asked*. If you ask for forward and then fall on your butt or lean back or catch the reins, or anything other than total balance and straightness, you have just punished your horse for complying. If you are weighted heavier on one side than the other, or use one hand differently from the other, or lean to one side or the other, or have one thigh stronger than the other, and trust me, you *do* no matter how perfect you might feel, your horse is going to be all of the things riders complain about; crooked, resistant, backward, hollow. On and on and on.

And so with all this in mind, we started riding Bryan. We had the saddle fitter out, we got him comfortable in his tack (more about the bit later), we put him on the buckle, and we started him from scratch.

1 comment:

  1. Its so true, so vital, and so often ignored. Maybe because it is hard, but maybe because horses are so good natured and they just try to adapt to our various machinations.