Friday, April 18, 2014

The Collection Controversy

Doesn't that subject line sound like a sequel to one of the Bourne Identity movies? Ok, maybe not to anyone else, but it does to me. 

I had a little kerfuffle on a social networking site yesterday for asking questions about how to see the difference between proper and improper body mechanics of horses being ridden.  It's something that I am trying to learn as I continue my education as a riding instructor.  And when it comes to Dressage - my discipline of choice - it can be very, very hard to see if you aren't really well educated in horse bio-mechanics.  And although I am getting there, I am not quite there yet.  But then this is why I go to clinics and scribe for judges at schooling shows (and probably drive them nuts asking as many questions as I can get away with).  But I made the mistake of posting a photo and asking questions about it, assuming since you couldn't see the rider it would be fine.  But someone popped up out of the woodwork and started posting about how this was some bigwig trainer and she could prove it and posted a bunch of links and photos of him and the facility the photo was taken out and I quickly deleted the whole thread.  So, that was a fiasco that totally stressed me out.

Because as an instructor it's ok to be "controversial" in regards to saying "In my opinion you're riding that horse in such a way that it's hurting it".   I've heard plenty of instructors and judges say behind closed doors they don't like how someone else may do things, and some folks (like Gerd Heuschmann) make a living out of loudly declaring that such-and-such is hurting the horse.  Now granted I appreciate Gerd for that and how passionate he is about it, but I would not want to be him.  And more than that, I don't just have an instructor hat anymore, I have a bodyworker hat.  And there is the big issue.  I can not be controversial as a bodyworker.  I can't expect to have a successful business and bring my talent (which I believe I have - I just need much more experience and education to really be good at it) to help horses be more sound and better performance horses, or help them rehab from injuries, if I'm "that instructor with all those strong ideas".

So, where is the balance?  I want to be able to have discussions with folks on training issues, but I can't do it in public forums because if I say "Oh yeah, I've learned that x-y-z training hurts the horse ..." suddenly I'm now not wanted at any facility where they do that, or where they are thinking they might be perceived as doing that.  For instance, if I were to say "I don't like Rolkur - I wish people wouldn't do it",  I also runs the risk of anyone who say uses side-reins for training thinking I am not a good person to work on their horses because I'm too opinionated and will be rude to them (the irony there being I use side reins for lunging when called for and every trainer I know does - and side reins are not the same as Rolkur but folks may not know that I know that).  It's that fine line.

That said, I found a good article about my question from yesterday  as it pertains to wearing my hat as an instructor.  Now, this may sound silly to any Grand Prix riders or trainers or judges out there, but try to go back to when you knew very little and you may remember what it's like to be trying to learn the intricacies.  But one of the ways I'm learning to train Geir to frame up is by having a firm contact with the reins.  This is not just Trainer KL,  I did the same stuff with Maiden with Trainer K.  Developing contact with reins and using ones body to support movement flowing from back to front is all part of conditioning and training.  But it is confusing where that fine line starts and where it ends.  How do I as a rider feel that?  I would like to continue to learn to ride to higher levels of Dressage and also eventually teach higher levels.  But I need to really understand why I'm doing things and what the intricacies are.  Luckily, Trainer KL is very good (like Trainer K was) at explaining these things so that will be my question today in class. 

But apparently, talking about this stuff in a social network or public forum and asking others opinions is going to get me in trouble because it will alienate folks who do it differently when it comes to being a equine massage practitioner.

I didn't really take into account this issue when I thought of pursuing these two career paths simultaneously.   I don't do well with navigating these types of waters.  It feels very political and I think it would do me well if I could find some sort of public relations course on how to stand up for what I believe in without ruining myself as a business person.  I used to have a lot of respect for the judges and high up trainers I know just because of their knowledge and expertise, but that respect has now grown even bigger because none of them have totally destroyed their reputation by spouting off about their opinions like I am want to do (Gerd of course being the exeption).

A song to celebrate a sunny Spring day.  I used to listen to this song a lot twenty-one years ago while recovering from a broken neck and ever since then it's been very comforting.



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