Category Archives: qotm archives

Past Questions of the Month are listed below in chronological order.  Just click on the Question to pull up Bill’s Answers.

Do your students ever go to a show without a coach?

I may be wrong but I sense that this question is submitted with a bit of attitude attached. My very short answer is some of my riders go showing alone. Some only go when they have help, either coaching, grooming, videoing, or hand holding. And some play it both ways. In the long run I cultivate their independence, and I’m proud when I’m doing a weekend clinic to be receiving texts and scores from my people around the country.

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How important is tracking up when you look at Working Trot?

Back in the Dark Ages of American dressage, circa mid 1960s, the term Working Trot didn’t exist. The judges wanted to see (approximately) the same thing as now, but it was called Ordinary Trot—not as sophisticated in frame or balance as Collected Trot, not as ground covering and scopey as Extended Trot. The problem with the term was that many riders who were new to the sport didn’t read the fine print. They saw the word “ordinary,” looked at their hunter or pleasure horse or trail horse shuffling along, and said to themselves, “His trot is about as ordinary as it gets. This sport is for me!” They were naturally disappointed when the judge gave their performance his thumbs down.

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Turns on the forehand in the 1st Level Rider Test

I like this question and I am also pleased that turn on the forehand has been included in the First Level Rider Test. Just as in the distant past when leg yielding was deemed unsuitable for inclusion in the tests (See “My Leg Goes Where?” on the Media Productions page of the website), turns on the forehand have been eschewed by some who claim “It puts horses on the forehand.” Others insist that it should only be used at the very beginning of the horse’s training and then abandoned in favor of shoulder-fore and other movements. Having been trained for years in the Scandinavian tradition, where leg yielding is done without bringing the rider’s inside leg behind the girth and turns on the forehand are performed in motion—not from the halt—and always with the horse thinking forward into the reins, I reject those arguments.

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My horse guesses

This is related to the recent QOTM about the Rein Back. Sorry to say, we’re in classic Vending Machine territory again! Horses that “guess” just aren’t on the aids enough. Easy to diagnose, hard to fix, but you just have to be quicker and more innovative than he is.

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Riding a proper Rein Back

Let’s take the second question first. If the Friesian’s Rein Back 1) comes from a balanced, immobile, and square halt; 2) if he backs maintaining a round topline without resistance; 3) if he marches back in unconstrained, relaxed (appearing to be) diagonal pairs; 4) if he stays straight; and 5) if he takes the desired number of steps and moves off promptly without squaring up first, you have just made a really good Rein Back! If he steps higher as a function of his breed characteristic and not from tension, the judge should totally ignore it.

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