Monday, February 13, 2012

Inspiration

I came across this video series as a part of a racehorse trainer's challenge program and found it quite inspiring.  The trainer is Eric Dierks and I think he has got some excellent philosophy in re-training race horses, that applies to most of us out there trying to train our own horses.  This is an ongoing program and so far there are only 2 videos in the series, but you can see how he makes immense progress in each ride. 

Here is the first video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ideu1bU0j5o

And here is the second: 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVJWmUu7mS8

There are a few things about his training style that really stand out in a positive way to me.  The first is his simplicity.  The way he rides and explains what he is doing he makes it look really easy, and I do believe he probably sees this as a relatively simple process (much more simple than my first few dressage lessons!).  I think sometimes when we ride, we get overwhelmed by details, and trying to keep things simple, at least early on, really helps to makes your rides better quality.

The second thing that I like about the way he works is the idea of the goal being not to see how long you can maintain what you're looking for (a round, forward, connected horse), but how quickly you can get it.  I've started incorporating this into my last two rides with good results.  Louie learns well from praise, so I would work on getting a nice trot out of him, then praise him and walk instead of continuing around at that nice trot until he gets frustrated.  I think I've noticed an improvement in how quickly we can get the gait we're looking for already. 

The third thing that I really gleaned from this (and also from Julie telling me I need to do more transitions when I ride) is the way he changes his riding patterns, direction, and gaits quite frequently, and uses the arena and obstacles to his advantage.  What I've noticed that this has really helped with is getting my horse's attention to be on me (the alpha mare- hello Louie!?!), and off of the scary monsters all around him.  I will walk a few 10 meter circles, then some 10 meter figure-8's, then add in half halts, full halts, walk-trot transitions every few strides, changing to a serpentine, 20 meter circle, down the straight away, over some cavaletti, in shoulder-in, etc.  I've been trying to ride in a less predictable pattern (not that it was necessarily predictable all the time before, but I was getting to just do 20 meter circles and full arena laps for a while there.  Though, I do still tend to continue along a 20 meter circle as my default when trying to work out an issue or get the gait I'm looking for.  But when I get it, I try to change and do something else as a reward, but come back to it frequently. 

Overall, I think a lot can be learned from other trainers in the same discipline and from other disciplines.  I sure found his videos to be inspiring and eye-opening to how simple and easy horse training should be.

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