Ed­i­tor’s Note

Practical Horseman - - Contents - Ed­i­tor

When start­ing rid­ing, I was for­tu­nate to have great horses who took care of me—and I let them. Then I went through a phase where I thought I needed to con­trol their ev­ery step. I be­came ob­sessed with whether or not I saw a dis­tance, of­ten fuss­ing with my hands to try to find one. Even­tu­ally I started to learn that I didn’t have to work so hard to see a dis­tance.

Be­cause of this ex­pe­ri­ence, read­ing hunter trainer and judge Tom Bren­nan’s ar­ti­cle brought back a lot of mem­o­ries (page 28). In it, Tom gives ad­vice and ex­er­cises to help you pro­duce a hunter round that ex­udes con­fi­dence. A big part of that, as Tom says, is get­ting “com­fort­able with the con­cept of go­ing for­ward un­til you see it’s time to do some­thing else. … Fo­cus on es­tab­lish­ing the right rhythm, pace and track, and then re­lin­quish con­trol of the dis­tance.”

Show-jump­ing coach for the U.S. Event­ing Team Sil­vio Maz­zoni echoes that idea in our ar­ti­cle that fea­tures him and even­ter Buck Davidson dis­cussing show-jump­ing warm-up strate­gies (page 50). “I’m very big on work­ing to get a bet­ter tech­nique and teach­ing a horse to show-jump clean, in the right form with the least amount of in­ter­fer­ence or help from the horse,” he says.

To avoid in­ter­fer­ing with your horse, he must be ride­able, which Buck also dis­cusses in the ar­ti­cle. With a horse go­ing Novice or Train­ing, he says his pri­or­ity is “ride­abil­ity first, clean round sec­ond.” You also must have a se­cure and ef­fec­tive rider po­si­tion. If you don’t, you’re go­ing to neg­a­tively af­fect your horse whether you re­al­ize it or not. In our ar­ti­cle with the Chief Rider of the Span­ish Rid­ing School, Andreas Haus­berger, he of­fers ad­vice on com­mon chal­lenges rid­ers have with their po­si­tions, from grip­ping with the knee to main­tain­ing a deep seat to keep­ing the up­per body sup­ple (page 36).

Fi­nally, in an­swer­ing a ques­tion about his style of rid­ing, top hunter rider John French says (page 22), “It’s not very con­trol­ling. I ride a lit­tle looser, more for­ward. I try not to in­ter­fere. … I think some­times peo­ple do too much and you can take the jump out of a horse.”

In my own rid­ing, once I stopped wor­ry­ing about dis­tances and be­gan fo­cus­ing on rhythm, pace and track, the take­off spots started ap­pear­ing and rid­ing, though still tak­ing dis­ci­pline and prac­tice, be­came a lot more fun. So, yes, get­ting to a point where you can do less while rid­ing to a jump takes hard work, but the ef­fort is worth it.

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