Well now comes the tricky bit. I’ve always struggled with describing myself as ‘classical’ but it is the tag that probably describes my training best. That is about to change; it is one of the biggest cardinal sins to believe one can train ‘classically’ without a bit. So I hereby renounce all previous claims that I may be classical in my approach. I am not classical, there, said it and I feel better already. So what am I really trying to achieve with my training? Not great success in competition arenas that’s for sure. A horse trained to Grand Prix? Get real Trudi, lol. No I’m not actually goal driven much at all, I used to be but then I suppose that has mellowed with age. All I really want it to enjoy the time I spend with my horses and for them to enjoy the time they spend being and working with me and for us all to keep fit enough that we can continue to a ripe old age.
Take yesterday as an example; I had one of the best days! Did we find more engagement in our half pass? Move effortlessly from shoulder-in to counter shoulder-in? No, we trotted a figure of eight keeping rhythm through rein changes and with Moralejo not rushing or leaning. It was a joy that we could do this simple thing with zero contact but 100% concentration…we were both in the zone and it made me want to cry, partly because I’ve waited so long but partly because I’m realising I’ve been up a blind alley for way too long. I haven’t felt his back swing so freely or seen his head so quiet ever and to finish we went down the hill and trotted home in the same trot, no hands, just him finding his balance.
So I ask myself again, what do I want from my training? I want that smile from yesterday, I want it too feel like I’ll burst with pride in my boy because we achieved balance together but at the same time independently…like dancers, touching and blending with each other but not leaning on each other.
My old favourite Paul Belasik says that dressage isn’t dressage without a bit, it’s a reference point for propriocentric (had to add that one to my spell checker, lol Mr B) balancing i.e. a static reference point (Cabruze and I already confused each other with this idea of ‘static’) that the horse senses in order to balance himself over his feet. I’m not sure about this statement but I’d like Mr B to substantiate his belief with some science, alas I doubt it will be forthcoming.
Dr Thomas Ritter writes ‘you can't produce the same level of suppleness and throughness with a bitless bridle as with a classical bridle.
None of the classical traditions use bitless bridles. None of the classical schools use bitless bridles.’ Mmm, lacking in science again I’m afraid.
Did I say afraid?? Well do you know I think that’s just the problem, the classicists believe that there is a process one must go through, believe in, to achieve a ‘classically’ trained horse and are pretty terrified that someone comes onto their turf and asks too many questions. The answer…blind them with art, well that’s not good enough for me any more ;-)
Oh this is tiring, I’m going to call it a night, I need to choose my words carefully. So I guess it's back to my tongue in cheek title of a while back...I'm a 'living' trainer (well it's better than being a dead one) and open to ALL things based on believable science, dusted with a little art and being of benefit to my horse and at the moment I don't see a big reason to use a bit. I think tomorrow I'm going to talk about the cordeo work I'm doing with Moo, the lateral work and baby moments of collection (yes without a bit).