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Eric Smiley weighs in.

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  • Eric Smiley weighs in.

    Eric Smiley, in the 27 March issue of Horse and Hound, came down on the side of CDs, more or less, laying the blame pretty squarely at the feet of riders and trainers.

    Basically, he made three points:
    • riders aren't taught how to gallop,
    • horses are too micromanaged down to the jump (he said they "don't take ownership" of the jump 3-4 strides out because of overriding and lack of training /mileage to make them more independent),
    • and new bit designs (specifically Mylar and Mikmar) are not suited to the sport because they enable the rider to ride without contact too often.
    I'm curious about the third point because Horse and Hound allowed the bit companies to respond, and each very blatantly ignored (IMO) his point about riding on a loose rein, choosing to focus instead on the mechanics of the bit (which actually reinforced the loose rein point, I thought) and the fact that they aren't as severe on the mouth.

    The thing is (and I'd be curious about your perspective on this [B..., if you see this, forgive me for just copying and pasting it into a thread]), the bit companies each made a point of describing how their bits spread pressure over various areas: the nose, the chin, the poll, etc. So, if you DO ride with constant contact, doesn't that mean the horse's whole head is basically being "squeezed" to varying degrees...constantly?
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

  • #2
    Originally posted by pwynnnorman View Post
    So, if you DO ride with constant contact, doesn't that mean the horse's whole head is basically being "squeezed" to varying degrees...constantly?
    That is how it seems to me. I don't think the bits are bad, but I imagine that many of the people using them are on unsuitable mounts.

    Comment


    • #3
      It would certainly seem like it. I wonder if people go for a different bit because they are going for more control (they think) when what they may need is just more flatwork or more gymnastics or just more time in the saddle!

      Comment


      • #4
        I think a better alternative to those bits is a snaffle and a mechanical hackamore(which is what they are supposed to mimic, like a pelham mimicing a double bridle). If the horse needs the whoa, you have the leverage of the hackamore and all the various pressure points, but you can ride on contact with the snaffle and not Surprise your pony with a sudden cue.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          The bit companies did indicate that the ideal way to use the bits is with two, independent reins. But just like pelhams, that must be the rarest of rare techniques (outside of straight dressage) these days: using two reins independently (hence the popularity of the converter straps, of course).

          BTW, Smiley found no fault with the companies' snaffle bits.
          Sportponies Unlimited
          Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

          Comment


          • #6
            riders aren't taught how to gallop,
            horses are too micromanaged down to the jump (he said they "don't take ownership" of the jump 3-4 strides out because of overriding and lack of training /mileage to make them more independent)
            Ok---former show hunter rider here...out BN last year for the first time. My greenbean took a lot of time before he was ready for an actual event. However, I hunted him for two seasons before his event.

            Who is going to teach us how to gallop? Where does one go learn this---if today's riders don't know how to do it?

            I can say that I have been guilty of telling my horse his spots. I am back w/an event trainer who is making me leave the horse alone and figure it out.
            I have been w/2 A grad PCers--1 USET coach--several top ULRs for clinics (and I see these ULRs often--so they know us by name) and local trainers. BUT WHY has not one person given me this advice before last fall? Honestly---I have been bringing this horse along for 5 years now and 3 years of jumping. This is the first that I have heard about---LET HIM figure it out!?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by bosox View Post
              I have been w/2 A grad PCers--1 USET coach--several top ULRs for clinics (and I see these ULRs often--so they know us by name) and local trainers. BUT WHY has not one person given me this advice before last fall? Honestly---I have been bringing this horse along for 5 years now and 3 years of jumping. This is the first that I have heard about---LET HIM figure it out!?
              Go to a Lucinda Green clinic, or find someone who knows her exercises.
              Janet

              chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by bosox View Post
                I have been w/2 A grad PCers--1 USET coach--several top ULRs for clinics (and I see these ULRs often--so they know us by name) and local trainers. BUT WHY has not one person given me this advice before last fall? Honestly---I have been bringing this horse along for 5 years now and 3 years of jumping. This is the first that I have heard about---LET HIM figure it out!?
                I received one, somewhat abrupt, response to that: "That's what gymnastics are for." Period. No more said (with the implied, "Well, duh").

                Now, I do longe my guys over gymnastics and even longe them at speed down to things, but I sure as heck don't gallop them--like you, I don't have the resources and am overly cautious about the safety of the riders I use. Christan, in fact, told me that Teddy didn't really learn to take the bit and gallop to his fences until he did his first **--he just didn't "get it" until then. And yet I know, of course, that Christan galloped him and that she had, even those years ago, a great feel for pace. But maybe the "consciously teaching the gallop and teaching the independence" (just like you imply, bosox) is what is missing in the experiences of both horses and riders. Maybe trainers have been taking those things for granted. (In some places, that is--I do know Christan, for example, talked about having students gallop set distances as set speeds. I remember even in Pony Club that came up, way back when.)

                Kinda like riding a distance, in fact. That's another one of those unspoken fallacies about the majority of riders (especially in h-j land).
                Sportponies Unlimited
                Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                Comment


                • #9
                  "riders aren't taught how to gallop,
                  horses are too micromanaged down to the jump (he said they "don't take ownership" of the jump 3-4 strides out because of overriding and lack of training /mileage to make them more independent),
                  and new bit designs (specifically Mylar and Mikmar) are not suited to the sport because they enable the rider to ride without contact too often."

                  Yay Eric!!! Right on!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Go to a Lucinda Green clinic, or find someone who knows her exercises
                    Friends of MPC has hosted L Green for at least 6 years now (b/c I have been w/the club that long and have seen our club reports) but I believe that it is closer to 10 years of hosting her. Even so--both A grads ride w/her everytime she is here.

                    I guess my point is---I do everything possible to make sure my kids get a wellrounded horse education. If our trainers of today don't know what to look for or teach it---THEN who is going to teach it? Obviously-I thought I had the right idea...Hunt for 2 years before going out to an event.

                    Pywnn--Yes--I have heard that about gymnastics. Of course-I do gymnastics and ride them correctly. However, while out on course--I tend to want to tell the horse where the spot is. I guess somewhere along the line--one of these trainers who KNOWS my background is hunter would have told me to just LEAVE him alone. THe most I got about the striding right before a fence was to come back down and sit. I even heard this is wrong after watching the Lenyard thread................

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Eric gave a wonderful presentation at the USEA annual meeting on this very subject. When you think about it, especially in suburban areas, it is very hard to find places to really gallop and you have to do that as you move up the levels. So many times, people are getting out on courses with even minimal "out of the ring" riding time.

                      Depending on where you live, the opportunities to learn cross country skills can be very different.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        XC with Lucinda Green

                        Originally posted by Janet View Post
                        Go to a Lucinda Green clinic, or find someone who knows her exercises.

                        And if you cannot get to a Lucinda Green clinic anytime soon....here is a link to Equestrain - Country Channel.TV from the UK. Click on Videos, then click on Eventing and scroll through the selection and look for Cross Country with Lucinda Green. Click on the image and the video should start shortly. There is another nifty one of her training with the London Police Department too.

                        http://tv.player.countrychannel.tv/s...yer=equestrian

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My horse was a different horse on cross country after doing his long format CCI*.

                          I gallop lots, but it was doing the steeplechase that taught me and my horse how to gallop properly, in balance, and take a fence out of stride at speed.

                          Eric just showed what is wrong with the short format.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I must be missing something here.

                            How on earth do you get horses ready for eventing??

                            Galloping is part of cross country training.

                            How does one get a horse fit to event, without incorporating "galloping" in their fitness programme?.

                            I am gobsmacked
                            \"I have lived my life-it is nearly done-.I have played the game all round;But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to Horse and Hound\".

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              fernie, I think it's two-fold:

                              1. It's inescapable that some folks eventing today don't have access to the resources that prepare them well, including the open spaces to learn and school the gallop...but they still want (and do) event. Should they be stopped? Discouraged? How?

                              2. Strange as it may seem, folks have testified here often that they just haven't been taught. So Smiley is right: there are some problems with what trainers are teaching (and/or failing to teach). And maybe it's more than "some" problems. Maybe it's become a significant problem, but it's just not possible measure its magnitude.

                              Many a significant problem goes underestimated due to it being impossible to quantify and thus impossible to verify. Merely anecdotal evidence is easy to ignore or discount, alas.
                              Sportponies Unlimited
                              Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                There is hardly an area of the United States that does not have a foxhunt or more.

                                For years, I've been saying that eventers should try foxhunting to give them and their horses cross country skills and independent thinking skills that come with the sport.
                                "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                Thread killer Extraordinaire

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  [QUOTE=pwynnnorman;3147554]fernie, I think it's two-fold:

                                  1. It's inescapable that some folks eventing today don't have access to the resources that prepare them well, including the open spaces to learn and school the gallop...but they still want (and do) event. Should they be stopped? Discouraged? How?

                                  [\QUOTE]


                                  Thats one thing that gets me, everyone wants to be out there competing without the proper preperation. Save your money and use it towards clinics, schooling or trailering somewhere where you can get properly prepared. It makes me so angry when I hear people looking for advice admitting their horse isnt ready or talking about how a show went and say well we had a stop but really I was expecting a lot worse....gahh competing is not a place to be introducing cross-country!
                                  Boss Mare Eventing Blog
                                  https://www.youtube.com/user/jealoushe

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by vineyridge View Post
                                    There is hardly an area of the United States that does not have a foxhunt or more.

                                    For years, I've been saying that eventers should try foxhunting to give them and their horses cross country skills and independent thinking skills that come with the sport.
                                    Absolutely right.

                                    Hunting is the best training ground for cross-country.

                                    Teaches the horse to think for himself.

                                    IMHO if a rider cant handle a couple of hours out hunting..........
                                    \"I have lived my life-it is nearly done-.I have played the game all round;But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to Horse and Hound\".

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      "riders aren't taught how to gallop,
                                      horses are too micromanaged down to the jump (he said they "don't take ownership" of the jump 3-4 strides out because of overriding and lack of training /mileage to make them more independent),
                                      and new bit designs (specifically Mylar and Mikmar) are not suited to the sport because they enable the rider to ride without contact too often. "


                                      But how does this address the upper level accidents? I am pretty sure if you are out there riding preliminary you know how to gallop and jump a XC fence safely.
                                      Susan
                                      http://community.webshots.com/user/ss3777
                                      www.longformatclub.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I had a similar experience to Jazzy - doing my first long format 3-day really made things gel for my first upper level horse and resulted in a huge improvement in our ability to gallop with good balance and rhythm on course.

                                        Comment

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