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Like a Flawless Diamond

Where has common sense gone these days? Have you ever seen something that made you shake your head in disbelief? This reminds me of a phrase I have heard: “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth.” 

bigstock-Diamond-on-white-background-58742681“Wisdom is not just the use of knowledge, to properly use wisdom you need discernment”. You need to discern whether the knowledge you are taking in is based on truth. EXAMPLE: There are many crooks in the world passing off imitation jewelry for the real thing. Can you tell the difference between a cubic zirconia and a real diamond? Recently, I went shopping for a diamond with a friend. If you are an adverage person (guy) like me, we are clueless when it comes to real or counterfeit jewelry. I am happy to say after a few hours in a diamond store, I became a gemologist. How does this illustration help us with horses?

Just like in my jewelry illustration, most folks are clueless when it comes to knowing the difference between Classical vs Modern dressage. Many popular, professional, likable, charismatic trainers, and instructors pass off Modern dressage as Classical training out of ignorance or to gain more popularity, public favor, or profit.

"All too often these days, the modern discipline of dressage is falsely referred to as classical dressage. When it comes to those riders who win on a national or global level in dressage, it is automatically assumed that they are riding classical dressage, and they themselves usually claim to be doing just that. However, the modern sport of dressage is far from classical." ~ For more info please see this article.

If we are going to train our horse (western or English style) with Classical principles, we need to know what those principles are, and how to spot counterfeit Dressage training, RIGHT?  As I have said in past articles, (beating a dead horse) both Modern Dressage / Western Dressage are eroding our "Western Heritage." How is our western heritage being eroded? If you know what to look for, you will start to see that Modern Dressage works against not for Western haritage. Modern Dressage is being used and passed off as Classical. Many trainers are using short cuts that mask proper Classical training. So what is the correct and proper way to train a horse or better yet, a Western Horse in light of Classical principles? Just like picking out a genuine diamond, you use your trained eye of discerment. Once you know what you are looking for, the real article will stand out.  

HalfPassHarasBefore I go any further let me clarify an above statement; as in the words of (John Lyons) "there is no correct of incorrect method, all methods work to train horses.” However, the idea of "Western Dressage" was to improve western horses with classical princaples and because western folks wanted an alternative to modern dressage methods. The simple truth is that many western folks do not like how modern day Dressage horses are trained and the way they move. Most western folks do not want to train their horses in that manner nor do they want dressage trainers helping them build a western horse. However, many western folks need help and see the benefits and the similarities between TRUE Classical and western riding. Western Dressage was supose to bridge the gap without losing the western heritage. Is that what happened? It was not long before classical imposters filled the gap with "feel good ear tickling training".

How do we spot imitation classical training and how do we get back on track? "If you are teaching, training, or riding two handed in the curb bit, you are an imposter." We need to educate western folks on the correct concepts of Classical not Modern Dressage, but first we need to identify imposters and the difference. Simply put, both Classical and Western styles require the practical use of the horse in field activities like cow work or military service of pass generations. Field activities like cattle work requires training the horse to be controlled one-handed in a curb bit, whereas Modern dressage is contrary to this concept. In order to properly train a bridle horse for one-handed use, requires different concepts than is taught in Modern Dressage.

How do we know that there are similarities between Classical and Western? Take a look at the "Dressage double-bridle" and the "two-rein" method as to the "California Bridle Horse" for an example. Yes, both are bridle methods that transition to a single handed use of the curb. Sorry Modern Dressage teaching and methods are contrary. Modern Dressage does not teach this and it is illegal to ride one-handed. There are no levels of Modern Dressage that allows the rider to drop the snaffle and contue riding in a curb with one-hand. 

HarasBridgeIf you are like me, I want the best for my partner. I have taken the time to study, meditate, and put into practice Classical principles as it pertains to Western riding. How do you know if a rider is using Classical not modern principles? Use your eye of discernment, is the rider you are observing riding correctly in a curb bit? I can't speak for you, but I want a practical use of my work partner not a show horse. Don’t be misled by counterfeit likable, charismatic trainers and instructors that pass off imitation training. Do your homework, discern the difference and become knowledgable. The lines between Classical and Modern Dressage can seem to be a little muddled, but if you view it from the practical application of a one-handed working horse, the truth will stand out like a colorless flawless diamond.

Supplemental Info....
  • Riders must use a western saddle and a curb bit, and may only use one hand to hold the reins while riding. Two hands are allowed if the horse is ridden in a snaffle bit or hackamore, which are only permitted for use on "junior" horses, defined differently by various breed associations, but usually referring to horses four or five years of age and younger. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_riding
  • Breed associations' rules (AQHA, APHA, ApHC) allow for junior horses to be ridden two-handed as long as a regular O-ring or D-ring snaffle bit or a hackamore is being used. If any kind of curb bit is used, only one hand on the reins is allowed, and only one finger between reins. If closed reins are used (West Coast romal-type), the rules request no finger between reins, and the finger around the reins so that the reins enter the hand at the bottom and come out on top, between index finger and thumb. http://www.equiworld.net/uk/sports/western/westernintroduction/
  • It is therefore more correct to ride a horse in a curb bit with only one hand. However, practicality intervenes! The fact is, lots and lots of people who learn to ride with western tack start out with a curb bit and lots and lots of horses who are ridden in western tack have NEVER had anything but a western curb bit in their mouth. The point of Western Dressage is to help riders and horses learn how to be more in harmony with each other, how to be suppler, better balanced, stronger, fitter and happier so that they can perform any activity more successfully. If all the riders who have always used curbs were suddenly told the rules no longer allow two hands with a curb bit, it would create a quandary. In order to get their horses to bend correctly they will have to use two hands. Yes, a snaffle would be good, BUT if they have never used a snaffle better to let them use two hands on a curb than exclude them right from the get go. http://www.horsecollaborative.com/snaffle-vs-curb-bits-western-dressage/

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