Inflation has hit. (Hard.)
Yesterday I went to my computerized local purveyor of everything (Amazon.com) and ordered the most recent version of the German National Equestrian Federation’s Principles of Riding (There are a bunch of these nice books by the GNEF)
They say fantastic things like, go to your local trainer who is licensed either as a Riding Teacher or a Riding Master. (Which is of course impossible here in the US as no one is licensed for anything other than judging–which is by nature extremely different than training–though of course useful in its own way.)
But the Principles of Riding is still a very good reference, and while I was shopping, I noted that a copy of Advanced Techniques of Dressage, by the same group, was for sale.
Advanced Techniques of Dressage will now cost you $449.85
Inflation has hit–hard.
I’m feeling a little smug here that I bought multiple copies several years ago to give my students. (They cost $49.99 then and I thought THAT a bit extravagant.)
(I read this tome once a year–whether I want to or not. It is dry, but supremely informative).
Out of print now I guess. A collector’s item in English. As are all those techniques it seems.
So I guess that is the way the dressage world is going. We tip our hats to Mr. and (particularly Mrs.) Romney and board our private jets to join our trainers. No? Better yet, they come to us!
In the past few months, I’ve watched a few clinics–here in town, and elsewhere.
A lesson in one of these clinic would cost you $275.
The bargain basement price of the second offering was $175.
45 minute session: that is $5 a minute.
And from what I can see, the best plan would have been to buy just one minute–because the rest was fundamentally company and entertainment for the rider. (The horse? Entertained? Not so much so. . . )
On a budget? I’ll save you a great deal of money: The take home messages of the two clinics I watched were:
Sit evenly–not too deep, stabilize your core.
(Also known as: Don’t grind the saddle like something from a B-rated XXX flick. Thank you.)
Engage the hind leg.
(Also known as: Don’t just sit there undulating, ask some questions with your extremities.)
Shape the horse’s neck.
(Also known as: Up! No! Down! NO! More down! Not so much down! Down with bend! That’s limited bend! Where is your outside rein? Yes, that’s it! More lateral conversion of the innate energy to facilitate upward guidance and trajectory of the willing spirit of the horse within your horse! Ah. . .now you see what I’m talking about? That is SOooooo much better now! Look at that horse! Can you feeeellllll the difference in that horse????)
(Who currently still looks like ****.)
Sad, but true.
So yesterday, done schooling the young Dutch horse in the outdoor, (it is finally almost spring here and beautiful) I took the young gal (who rides with someone else but watches us a lot) out for a trail ride–her first on a new horse. She wants to be a jumper. We talked about schooling ditches and I told her of the grand bank in the jumper arena at Pebble Beach with no end of options for S-M-L efforts at banks and ditches. Some VERY large. (I fear I am getting old and sentimental)
This is not the bank, but I was there that year–1979 and jumped the hay bales about every morning, solo.
Ah, here it is, the thing behind the banner and horse is a multi-level bank. A beautiful schooling tool that struck terror in the visiting show jumpers unaccustomed to such things: it is not hard to jump on and off a bank–but it does take practice.
So the young gal and I came home from the woods, and while I was blanketing the horses, the Mexican stable guy sidled up to me and asked, “What are they doing in there?”
“Yes, what are they doing?”
“She’s here from out of town, teaching.”
“Why don’t you ride?”
“Well, it’s pretty expensive–and I’m not sure how much I need it right now.”
(I told him.)
His eyes widened: “One lesson. . ? I feed my family for a week with this!”
On leaving, one of the clinic participants was in the parking lot, a local professional She moaned to a friend: That was SO wonderful, but it will be six months until she returns. What will I do? What will I DO???
You really want to know? The same very exact thing she has been doing for the past six months–and the six before that and–and that and that.
Because one lesson every three months does not a rider make. Nor a bad habit erase, nor a body memory instill.
How did we get to a place where a copy of The Principles cost half a grand, and to listen to advice from an individual who may have read them, cost the other half?
(And re competence, I don’t doubt the clinician: the person proclaiming was probably proficient. But had she been sent from heaven with a choir of angels (instead of a Comtek transmitter), it still would do very little to improve the riders.
Do you achieve concert piano quality from a single weekend with Franz Liszt? Would twice a year do it?
- Franz Liszt (Hungary, 1813-1886). One of the most famous piano players of all time! He had piano superpowers, and used to dazzle audiences with his extraordinary abilities.He was well-known (and mocked!) for acting dramatically while performing, contorting his face with passion and swaying his body. He was the first person to hold solo piano recitals, and the first to sit sideways to the audience so everyone could see his hands in action.
In closing, I DO think that most clinicians really do know what they are doing–surely some better than others, but as a group, capable of good advice and a fresh eye. The PROBLEM is that without backup help MOST riders will be unable to repeat the “performance” of the clinic. And, as I view training the horse and rider as a series of small skills that build on each other, the idea of the “weekend revelation” does not make sense to me.
In my next post I will pose something that does work, does not break the bank and I think will make people more ready for the breakthrough–should it happen.
But here is the point, the breakthrough may never happen. And that won’t matter if you have a sound foundation and a skill set that is well-developed. People here tend to talk like we are inventing something. It exists! Has for a long time. That is a good thing.