Day #20 - How my horse was trained
Reva and Dreamy
No one ever sat on Dreamy before me and only one person (my friend Helene) had ever sat on Reva...and it was for a bareback pony ride around the NJ farm. Both of my Standardbreds were trained by me, an adult amateur who does well only because she works her a** off. ;-) I would never make it as a horse trainer and I am OK with that. I have to work hard to figure out my timing and feel, and I take lessons as much as I can to make sure I am headed in the right direction. I had started Dreamy under saddle for about a year before I started regular lessons with her; thankfully I have been taking lessons on Reva all along. I ride both of them dressage 95% of the time, but will put jumping tack on Dreamy to jump (which is never more than once a week) and was riding Reva saddleseat a handful of times this past summer in order to show. I take dressage lessons as well. I personally feel that a dressage foundation will allow a horse to pursue any discipline. I especially like a dressage basis for Standardbreds because it teaches them how to move their body correctly and how to balance.
Sparky was trained under saddle before I bought her as a 10 year old. But she was out of shape, out of balance, and scared to death of accepting the bit. She had been at the mercy of a series of unforgiving owners...one prior owner told me he had to use a "running W" to throw her to the ground because she was "difficult" to train. O.O Sparky's first few owners were young girls who probably did not put a very solid foundation on her. The young man who sold her to me said if he wanted to win a race against his buddies, he would ride Sparky. When asked how he slowed her down, he added, "Oh, it only takes a few sharp tugs and she slows right down." He said this while pointing to a deeply ported western curb bit. Yikes.
I was only 13 years old when I got Sparky and decided to take her back to the true basics, working her in long lines, teaching her voice commands on the longe, and treating her like she was a youngster. I built a trusting relationship with her for three months before I even got on her back. (Plus, I got her in January and without an indoor it was no big deal to wait until April to ride! LOL!) My farrier at the time chided me for taking so long to ride her. I remember my instructor at the time having me use a pelham, standing martingale, and a chambon (but not at all once...LOL) in the beginning with Sparky before just using a regular eggbutt snaffle. I rode "balance seat" and did dressage, jumping, eventing, and hunter under saddle. I wish I had ridden DRESSAGE at that time because I think she would have come along better in the beginning with a pure dressage basis (and without the gadgets.) :-/ It was not until four years after I got Sparky that I really focused on her dressage training, which is what made her an even stronger horse and eventually a superb driving horse.