Friday, 16 April 2010

Time to get serious about horsemanship

Welcome to Martin, and that's with the French pronunciation OK (Martaine). He is four weeks old and his mum, Tilly, is supposedly 10. And here are two very interesting quotes from the lady who 'rescued' her from France nine months ago.

'They treat the horses really badly over there'.

'All of the seven horses we rescued have behaved perfectly since day one'.
I have to say Tilly is a joy to handle. Martin, on the other hand, is totally bonkers.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Why I like Baucherism

So, anyone who knows me will know I am no great horseman. I reckon my biggest success is to take a pride in my non-greatness, enjoy my horses, and maybe help other 'not so great' horsemen to enjoy their horses too. Since I started out I have always strived to keep things simple. I have fought hard against so many of the semi-abstract concepts and phrases that the horse world is littered with. I see no need for that stuff. Mostly what it does is give the impression to the unknowledgeable that the speaker knows what they are talking about, but to me it feels akin to the blag that you hear from politicians. It's mostly meaningless blather!

So when I come across a horseman who speaks in a language that I understand, I appreciate that, and I am grateful to them. I have come across a few horsetrainers who speak in words that make sense, and who try to explain how this whole thing fits together. They are the trainers who can actually give you some practical help as to how to progress in your horsemanship. You can spend time with them and leave with some tangible advice that you can use, rather than come away with a load more confused dogma to add to the pile of confusion that you already have.

So how does Baucher fit into all this. Well, he was a man of the same sentiment. He strived to get across to people the simplicity of horsemanship, and although in his life time he didn't really enjoy the recognition and success he maybe deserved, the work he did, successfully lives on.

In what is known as 'Baucher's second manner' he provided us with a very clear explanation of how to work the horse in lightness, or legerete. Since I came across this I have been greatly influenced by it, mainly because it works. His clear instructions, coupled with the written explanations of people past and present who work in this way, including General L'hotte, Captain Beaudant, Jean Claude Racinet and presently, Phillipe Karl) make it possible for the ordinary horseman to practise his ideas. In my limited way I have really been enjoying the results of this work - I say 'limited way' because I have no ambition to be a great rider, in fact my riding ambitions stretch about as far as getting to the local pub. But what I have managed to do is turn around some pretty confused horses, simply by being able to explain to them how things work, and in a way that they clearly understand and enjoy. I have also worked with some very interesting people, including a twelve year old boy with his show pony that habitually pushed up on the bit and travelled along like a llama. The young boy had no problem at all in understanding what I explained to him to do, mainly because everything we did was simple and worked. To my surprise he continued the work and now a couple months later his pony is a real credit to him.

It's really important that we understand how things work. If we don't understand something then how can we ever expect our horses to. To understand the bit, and the feel we should have in our hands, and the effects of our actions on the bit, plus the security the horse feels from being in good balance; this is a hugely important step for us, and the horse. I know he is long gone and he won't hear my thanks, but Baucher was a man who helped get me started on this.