THE QUESTION OF THIS MONTH IS RIGHT BEFORE YOUR EYES! (Send yours to us for an answer)
What is Too big? Too small?
BILL– OK, I am staying totally away from the “size matters “jokes. But when it comes to choosing a horse, particularly if you’re paying money for it, as you take into account all the suitability factors, size should be one of them.
My advice is pay heed to the Goldilocks Syndrome. The horse should be big enough that you feel comfortable on him and he fills out your leg. That means not so narrow that you can’t find his sides with your calves and deep enough in his body that your feet don’t hang below his belly. In terms of a horse’s ability to carry weight, you won’t hurt a smaller one unless the disproportion is extreme. For some jobs smaller is better. If you are constantly on and off a horse while repairing fence lines or working cattle, big just gets you more tired. On the other hand if you are jumping, and your horse clears the fence but your toes pull the rails down, you probably need a bigger horse!
In the dressage world for a time very large horses were in fashion. It was said that judges wouldn’t give smaller horses a second glance. As long as the horse you pick is suitable, I don’t think that premise holds water.
Having owned an 18 hand horse whom I competed in the FEI, I would not do it again. The 60×20 arena can look awfully small when you’re trying to fit a line of tempi changes on that diagonal! Besides that is the question of how much mass you’re going to want to move around all the time. If you are 30 years old and stand 6 foot four, that’s one thing. If you are petite or like some of us getting a little longer in the tooth, do yourself a favor. 16.3 or 17 hands is plenty big for most riders.
One last thought about very large horses, particularly ones who also move big, is the increased stress that mass puts on joints, tendons, and ligaments. There is no guarantee that a smaller horse will stay sound longer, but I would not go looking for trouble by choosing the flash factor over common sense.
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BILL’s On-Line Store — STORECRAZY — is here to provide you with items that Dover and John Nunn can’t offer. Here’s a quick sample.
CLICK HERE to find many more items you won’t want to live without!
When all else fails, go to the mirror! But regardless, DO pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
Of Guts, Gumption, and Perspective
At the Grand Oaks show (Marion County, FL) a para rider in a freestyle test lost her balance and fell from her horse. The EMT was summoned as she lay on her back in the dirt. Apparently he was a new guy who had never worked a show before. Parking his emergency vehicle in the arena beside the fallen rider, he leaned over her to see how she was.
She looked up into his eyes and informed him, “I can’t feel my legs.” The EMT turned ashen, no doubt thinking “My God, I need more help here.” Until the victim giggled and added “But it’s OK, I never can!”
[A Note from Bill]
Let me introduce our Associate Editor, Hayden Finch. “Sidd” worked with us back in the ’80s when Susan and I edited A Tip of the Hat, the New England Dressage Association’s newsletter. Prior to beginning his career in journalism, Sidd scratched his competitive itch with a brief foray into professional baseball. In his first stint with us, Sidd penned this alternative biographical sketch of me for the Dallas Dressage Club newsletter publicizing a clinic I did for that group:
Bill’s bio courtesy of Sidd Finch
Bill Woods (not his real name) comes to the Dallas area several times a year. He and his wife, Onyx, are members of the Federal Dressage Witness Protection Program; thus, their true place of residence is unknown. Both train and compete most of the year in central Florida, often in disguise. Bill has been teaching in Texas since the mid ‘80s, having been brought here by Lisa Brown.They had met in New Hampshire some years before, drawn together by a mutual love of hybrid roses which they tended on summer afternoons at the institution.
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MORE HYPE ABOUT THE TROVE OF PAST BLOGS WHICH AWAIT YOU
If any of the following snippets pique your curiosity, you can find the story archived on this site. It’s DRESSAGE Unscrambled, with a twist—it’s free! More than two dozen dozen (more than 330) posts accessed by this click.
Remember Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich in the victory lap after their gold medal win at the ’84 LA Olympics? All those 76 one tempis in a row? Well, for old time’s sake, click here for the instant replay!
The Horse Protection Association of Florida needs your help!
HPAF receives no state or federal funding and exists only through donations. The amount of neglected horses and horses whose owners can no longer afford to feed them has exploded recently and your donations make it possible for HPAF to continue the work of protecting and saving horses.
“LINT IS A SHELL’S BEST FRIEND” CLICK HERE TO LEARN WHY
Quote of the Month
“We are all time travelers — just the really dull kind — ones plodding through the 4th dimension one pathetic second at a time.” (Robert Smith on NPR’s Talk of the Nation)
Quote of All Time
“The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang onto, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.” Chögyam Trungpa
Click to view an important cultural icon: “Bambi Meets Godzilla”
LIFE GETTING YOU DOWN? THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS CLICK HERE FOR RELIEF OK, GO!
An audio treat for your dining and dancing pleasure? CLICK HERE
FEAST YOUR EYES ON THIS — A FANCIFUL VIDEO MONTAGE TO LEONARD COHEN’S “DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE.” The tango sequence is from the 1992 film Scent of a Woman.
For the One Minute Version of everything you need to know about woodsdressage.com – CLICK HERE
Below: To imprint in your mind. Harmony in the person of Col. Kurt Albrecht von Ziegner. His mount unknown.
Carl Sagan speaks of The Pale Blue Dot. Please click below and watch this!
It’s another Monday!
If the last total eclipse of the sun worked for you (or if you were indoors at the movies), there’s a second showing. The date will be April 8, 2024. Visible in the US on a swath from Texas through parts of the Midwest to Buffalo. I am not going to miss it!
TUNY [photo], the French Bulldog , sadly crossed the rainbow bridge. Her position as the official Safety Coordinator of this website has been passed along to Alan, the new Frenchie puppy. He has been getting up to speed on the Manual. If as you’re reading, he issues the “Duck and Cover” instruction, please climb under your desk and assume the position until he issues her All Clear announcement.
While Alan [below] may appear to be very youthful for these responsibilities, he has assumed the mantle and hopes to grow old as he carries out his duties.