Jan 12, 2008

My Grande Affaire


After railing against Chronicle of the Horse, and oh...let's face it the entire crop of horse magzines out there, I felt a little sentimental about my beloved Dressage & CT. (Of course I threw out all my old copies...my love for throwing things out stupidly overrode my love for this mag. Or maybe I was just drunk. Who knows for sure?)
Anyway, this past week I was trolling the Interwebs for back issues of Dressage & CT to purchase. Hell, who am I kidding?! I'll just put this out there - I was looking specifically for the series of articles that Jean-Claude Racinet wrote in defense of (and in order to better explain) Baucher's classical training methods. Yes, I really am that much of a horse-geek. There should be a word for this much equine nerdiness. I'll come up with one. Promise.
So, back to my web-search. I found some of what I was looking for, but more importantly I totes found my new favorite website/magazine. Horses For Life. Okay, so the name is sort of twee. Like, I imagine the meeting in which the final decision was between that and "Unicorns Over the Rainbow" and the founders had to choose the lesser of two evils. So, the name isn't good. But the magazine totally rules. I've only minimally browsed it, but there is some good content in this. And if you subscribe you get complete access to their archives. I will be printing and filing this shit for months. I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't think there is a huge market for this magazine. It's hardcore classical dressage. But for those of you who are into that, you should get your butts to their website ASAP. I am not kidding. This morning I discovered an entire article devoted to the proper classical method of carrying the whip. I just about peed myself.
But really, whether you get off on the whole classical vs. competitive dressage debate, this magazine seems like a must for anyone truly interested in dressage. I don't believe anyone who wants to succeed at dressage can get away with not understanding the mechanics and minutiae of the sport, no matter how much talent you have. And if it's boring and hard - well, too bad. If you want to be good at something you have to be educated about it. End of story. And this magazine truly addresses the true essence of the sport. Their articles are about the mechanics of equitation and how we, as riders, can hinder or help the equine in our mastery of the highest level of this art. There are discussions on how the stomach muscles work, on why the consensus that rollkur is bad but why we see horses in their natural state trotting or cantering far behind the verticle..... This goes far beyond how to ride the perfect half-pass to score that 70% at our next show (yeah, I'm talking to you Dressage Today).
And you know what totally cinched a subscription to this magazine for me? A free video posted on the site of Nuno Olivera practicing the canter backwards. Yes, you did read that correctly. Frankly, I thought it was a lost art. I figured I would never see this silly (not particularly useful) movement in reality. Well, I'm super glad I finally did. It's brilliant. There aren't words to describe how bizzare and moving it it to watch this old clip. To me it is far grander than even seeing the airs above the ground. It is the complete trust and confidence of the horse in his rider to even contemplate performing collection at such a level that his movement can be projected backwards. It seems mind-boggling because it is the very antithesis of what I try to promote in my horses everyday - forward, forward, forward.

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