Thursday, February 20, 2014

Classical riding on your to...

One of the tenets of classical instruction is just that it requires instruction.  Even riders at the top levels have trainers that they work with.  Many riders can not afford regular instruction, or have horses at home that make it difficult to get time with a trainer.  So the question becomes how to improve the classical portions of your training.

CAPRIOLE...First we need to discuss why we would want to maintain classical criteria in our program.  With all of this push for natural horsemanship, hunt seat equitation, and increase in western showing options (ranch horse pleasure, western dressage, etc) many of you may ask aren't there "better" methods today than there were a hundred years ago.  Some of you may be asking what is "classical".  Classical training is embodied by the Vienna riding school and the Lippizaner Stallions housed there.  PBS Lippizaner's on Nature  this show aired a couple of weeks ago, and is an amazing documentary of the entire classical process.  The natural horseman out there will notice the emphasis on allowing these horses to grow up as horses, and the importance of the human role in the herd.  Capriole is considered to be the ultimate culmination of years of classical training.  If a trainer among you can explain to me how you would force a horse into this action I'm all ears.  I only see this happening with the development of a quality relationship between horse and handler.    There are many trainers today that have done great research and study using modern day technology to evaluate the biomechanics of riding.  I consider Colleen Kelly to be top in this field. I have had the opportunity to ride in clinics with her twice, and learn each time.  The conclusion that I have come to is that despite technologies impact on how we draw conclusions all it really has served to do is support hundreds of years of time tested methods. 

Now that we've embraced the importance of maintaing classical methods in our training how do we do that when we can't afford or don't have access to classically trained trainers.  This is where technology becomes our friend.  I was about 14 years old when I first realized the significance of technology on riding. Back then technology came in the form of a 35 mm camera.  For several months my instructor had been trying to improve my posture over fences. She would tell me to "arch" my back.  When I would hear the word arch I would think of McDonald's golden arches and would round my back as much like a turtle as I could. I was getting frustrated not understanding why she was still on me about this. 
Then technology came into play. This picture was taken at a schooling show at my home barn.  As soon as I saw myself the light bulb went on.  First I instantly fixed my posture, and realized the importance technology can play.  I make a point of using still photography, but more importantly video with all of clients. The advancement of technology in the last 25 years has sped up this process with the advent of digital photography.  It used to be we took pictures and had to wait a week or more to get the pictures back, and then you were careful to only take a handful of pictures because film and development was expensive. 

The digital age has further improved the equestrian world, as it allows us to connect with trainers and professionals world wide.  We used to be limited to reviewing photos and videos with our local community which significantly limited the knowledge pool.  Many trainers Lynn Palm being one offer online video clinics. 
You have a friend film a video meeting the trainers requirements, and then send it digitally to them paying a fee, and in return you receive all of their commentary and suggestions.  Fees for this service are very reasonable for the level of instructor you gain access to.  Many trainers aren't more than $50 or so. 

Yes Literature majors a conclusion belongs here, but I can't think for the life of me how to close this post.  That's the luxury of technology you see. I get to be real, and don't have to adhere to standards.  Stay tuned.

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