(“If you say it enough ways, something is likely to click.”)
BILL— It can be good or it can be bad pending on a lot of factors, namely what the riders are like and the temperament and level of training of the horse in question. The first thing to resolve is your motivation. Is this to benefit you, the other rider, or the horse?
One of the most memorable rides in my life was in December 1974 when one evening at the Poulins’ I was invited to have a short ride on a Hanoverian mare who had been the reserve horse on the Canadian team at the Munich Olympics. It was all carefully supervised of course, but it did great things for my self esteem as well as giving me a new, very meaningful reference point.
It’s a great gift to be able to bestow on someone if you have a special horse that they can learn from. That said, the most important quality that a rider must possess to be allowed to ride your horse(s) is judgment – knowing what she is capable of and what she should leave alone.
If it’s a question of allowing a person more knowledgeable than yourself to get on your horse, their judgment and your trust in them are still the operant qualities. From my personal viewpoint I feel that anyone who rides with me should-– if I deem it useful– be willing to let me on their horse. I think I know enough at this point in my career not to bite off a lump I can’t chew!
I can think of several examples, however, where a rider did not want a particular clinician climbing on their horse to show off in a way that could be detrimental to his ultimate training. That is a difficult circumstance! On the other hand, If the owner knows the horse has some dangerous behavior that hides under the surface and does not want anyone else getting on, that is understandable.
Ruling out such instances, by and large it is not only valuable to get on other people‘s horses but also to see a more advanced rider working yours. Sometimes a new slant on an old problem works wonders.
(“. . . each movement would be written on a slip of paper and put in a fishbowl . . .”)
(“. . . she wants to do art but she doesn’t know how to hold the brush.”)
Here is part of Associate Editor Sidd Finch’s ongoing conversation with Bill reflecting on his years of teaching.
(“. . . so comfortingly sensible and familiar.”)
(“See if he is willing to continue on”)
At a show recently, I was watching my friend warm up for her first level test 3 class. Her horse, an OTTB, was being very tense and anxious with all the other horses. Her trainer took her to an outside, very quiet arena and told her to ‘just trot big’. She let the horse go very long and low in a pretty big trot doing circles and figure 8s. As the ride time got closer, they gathered and did a couple of trot to canter transitions. They really did not school any test movements. She actually scored high enough for a wild card invite to Nationals.
Should I consider warming up my horse like this?
(“A worthwhile skill to develop is the ability to bluff.”)
If your reaction is “Oh, yeah, everybody knows this,” then simply congratulate yourself. If you are an event rider, a foxhunter, or a trail rider, then what I am about to say ought to be second nature. But especially if you are late to riding and in particular to dressage riding, and even more so if you have acquired a schoolmaster to pursue your dream, then listen up!
(“Your horse is the sponge.”)
(“Ultimately you want . . . “)