There are certain things not only as a dressage rider, but as an equestrian, that are my pet peeves. In the dressage world there are certain terms coined and made acceptable for any and all to use, even if they have no shot of understanding or using them correctly. My favorite is a term that I affectionately call the “F”-word – Frame. I detest the word frame. It implies something rigid, hard and static. It implies something that is a one-dimensional, unchanging correct place to live in. Used in a sentence, “I really like his frame” or “He isn’t in enough of a frame” I would like to rip my hair out. A so-called “frame” is used by trainers and the masses to describe the horse, and most of the time when the “F”-word is rolled out a person is only looking at the neck. A horse does not carry himself in the same exact manner from one moment to the next. A rider needs to have a fluid, breathing, and alive connection to be able to correctly communicate. The word frame sounds like a rider who has shoved a horse into a headset and unrealistically expects him to stay there forever. I have yet to meet a horse that could do this. Instead of that infamous word, instead try “level of collection” or something pertaining to the training scale and overall goals of riding.
Almost worse than the “F”-word is “round”. When people use the term round they are usually looking at a horses neck being bent with his nose in and the crest making an arc. This people is not round! Round refers to building a bridge with the horses back, making the spine and muscles arch upwards. This is what puts the hind legs under the body, this is what allows for beautiful cadence, and this is what you must attain for the elusive collection. The head and neck are a by-product of the ability to create this lifting of the back muscles.
I could go on all night about instructors yelling at small children to “half-halt”, to “ride him forward!”, or to “ride him through!” All of these terms are not being used to accurately describe what these instructors are trying to achieve, which boils down to basic acceptance and obedience so that said small child doesn’t eat it big. This is not dressage, this is not even ‘riding’ – this is survival. And yes we all started at that point, and I am sensitive to that fact, but this does not mean that the masses should be throwing out words and judgement on roundness, and a frame because they have heard the terms abused by instructors. I believe strongly in a theoretical education for any rider who is serious – if you expect your horse to give you 100% every time you get on the least you could do is to pick up a book!
An eventer-friend and I were laughing about letting small children jump as well. It is ordinary now to walk into any stable and see children who can barely stay on flying over jumps. An FYI: I am an eventer-turned dressage diva and I have no problem with jumping at all. For your entertainment we made a joking list:
- If you can’t tack up a horse – NO JUMPING
- If you have been riding two weeks – NO JUMPING
- If you can’t stay on riding on the flat – NO JUMPING
- If you can’t put a halter on – NO JUMPING
- If you don’t know what a halter is – NO JUMPING
- If you can’t walk up to a horse – NO JUMPING
- If you can’t bring a horse in from the pasture by yourself – NO JUMPING
- If you can’t tell which horse you are riding – NO JUMPING
- If you want to know why that horse is wearing a pretty sweater – NO JUMPING
- If you are only riding to learn how to “run” the pony – NO JUMPING
- If you are screaming “Stop Pony Stop!” – NO JUMPING
- If someone asks you if you ride English or Western and you reply, “I ride ponies!” – NO JUMPING
- If you cannot get on by yourself, even with a mounting block – NO JUMPING
- If you cannot remember to tighten your girth before mounting – NO JUMPING
- If you cannot remember to see if you actually managed to put a girth on the horse and yet you still somehow got on – STILL NO JUMPING
- If you call the girth a belt – NO JUMPING
- If you can’t put your own hair in a pony tail to go under your helmet – NO JUMPING
- If you cannot put on your own half chaps – NO JUMPING
- If you are not fully potty trained – NO JUMPING!
On the bright side my lesson was fantastic – I will try to get a real lesson report up tomorrow (I know it is days late!) and Val was a rock star again today! Snow tomorrow – although at least we aren’t under the snowpocalypse! I will try not to complain too much about the weather; it can always be worse!