Tuesday, June 16, 2009

another rainy day and more random thoughts

I haven't been able to ride yet today due to rain, but the horses seem to be enjoying the break from the heat, and the fields are drinking in the rain as it falls.

My husband called this morning in some distress because when it rains the turtles get active, and he had stopped several times on his way to work to rescue turtles on the road. His distress was over a turtle he was unable to rescue - he stopped, pulled over, and as he was walking out to move the turtle from the other lane to safety, a truck came by and purposely veered out of its path to run over and kill the turtle.

There was not much I could say that made things better. Perhaps the turtle was sick and a quick death was actually a good thing. Maybe the man will have some sort of awakening later today about his hideous behavior. Or maybe my husband will be moved to some new revelation after witnessing such cruelty. It's very hard to make sense of the things people do sometimes, or what ripples the acts might set in motion.

Here on November Hill, I had to smile when I went out to feed breakfast. It's a rainy day and donkeys must have been in dire need of some activity. I found every lead rope that had been hanging in the barn aisle dragged out to the grass paddock. There was a blue one, a green one, a purple one. Three fly masks that had been hanging in the barn aisle had also been taken out and were soaking up the rain. Two brushes were out there as well.

I wish I'd seen if both donkeys were busily cleaning out my barn aisle, or if Redford did it all on his own!

On another note, I have discovered a wonderful online magazine called Horses For Life.

In an interview with Phillipe Karl, he says:

As soon as the horse is giving his mouth and is flexible in the neck, the rider should train a proper extension of the neck, in order to gymnasticise the whole body in the forward movement. But, each time the horse stops giving his mouth, he is saying: “It is too much, I am contracting, and out of balance,….please stop this and restore the right conditions”. When the rider doesn’t care about that, he tries to manage the horse by mediocre means – using force, tight nosebands, running reins, over-flexion etc.

In fact the fundamental thing is: through a lively mouth (understanding, relaxation, balance, attention), bend the neck, extend it, raise it, as the horse needs and according to what you intend to do. This is more important and more difficult than being obsessed by ONE position, supposedly the good one. The official doctrine is that you will create balance by forward movement. [My rebuttal] is that you don’t teach a young child to stand on his legs by forcing him to run.

There are many gems in the interview, and many of the articles are fascinating. So far I haven't done the paid subscription - but there is a fair amount that you can read for free.

Karl calls his training philosophy the "school of lightness" and I found a lovely video that shows a bit of what this means.

I've been doing a lot of reading recently about bridle fit, including tightness of noseband, bit placement, and weight of reins in the hand, and how this applies to creating bend and flexion. Lightness and freedom is what I'm after, and I'm disappointed to say there's a lot of the opposite going on in the dressage world.


Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm sure Redford had an accomplice in his rearrangement of the barn items. I guess they'll be needing some new toys on rainy days, like little children do.They are too funny.

Sorry to hear about the turtle, the sad fact is that some people are just jerks.

If you don't already have Phillipe Karl's book by all means get it. It's a wonderful read and very informative. We also have all of the videos and they are a priceless source of good information and to watch the way he trains and rides is refreshing. If only more people would take the time to learn classical dressage(or any form of riding) properly we wouldn't have so many abused, untrained and unwanted throwaway horses. I'm going to stop now before I get on a soapbox again.

billie said...

Arlene, I'm still thinking I need to join HorseFlix so I can rent some of these horse DVDs without buying all of them. His book is in my Amazon cart and has been for awhile.

Keil Bay and I did some very NON-classical work today. I put my daughter's Little Joe pad on him, along with a dressage pad and a slightly too long fleece girth, halter and clip on reins, and then I proceeded to climb up on a metal barrel so I could mount without dragging myself up.

I had the pad too far back and he did not want to go forward, but did it anyway. I forgot my helmet so daughter helpfully reminded me and retrieved it.

That little riding experiment didn't last too long, but we did some groundwork and the Big Bay stood in the rain with me w/o fussing at all.

ponymaid said...

Billie, I sense Redford's fine hoof and need for redistribution of wealth behind the barn antics. And of course that wonderful sense of donkey humour. He may be at the stage where he feels the need to count things and do a running inventory.

As for someone who swerves to run over a turtle - maybe it's the same human who threw the kittens in our ditch last fall. I would like to have a look inside their brain to see which faulty bit of wiring causes this sort of behaviour. Sigh.

Yrs in puzzlement,

AnnL said...

That's horrid about the turtle. :-( So sorry your husband had to witness that.

I ride Jeeves with no noseband at all. I recall one instructor (who I didn't use for very long) would tighten the noseband so tight I had a hard time getting it off after my ride. What purpose does that server? I don't get it.

billie said...

Sheaffer, I think you may have hit the nail on the head with the need for inventory/count. There is something very organized about the whole thing. I found it again this morning. :)

billie said...

Ann, I read something not too long ago about the noseband actually coming into usage during the time when horses were used in war - the soldiers having to pull the horses on foot at times and needing the bridle to be more secure so it wouldn't pull right off the horses' heads.

Similarly, the "rules" about the bit making 3 wrinkles, etc.

I've unbuckled nosebands tightened by my daughter's instructors at times (mostly the ones affiliated with Pony Club) where it was so tight I had to wrestle it to get if undone. Taking the noseband off would certainly prevent that issue from happening again!

Matthew said...

Well it was rainy this morning and I moved two more turtles. Fortunately, no fatalities today. And another turtle on the way home in the sunny afternoon -- quite unusual, they usually prefer to move about on the cool and rainy mornings.

I just need to accept that I will not be able to save every turtle, snake or toad that sits on the roadway, but saving the ones I can still matters.

billie said...

I think it matters a lot. You're a sort of guardian angel for them.