Thursday, November 17, 2016

wise words

Perhaps you all have noticed, but I kinda enjoy trawling for fun or insightful horsey videos. It's also no secret that Phillip Dutton ranks pretty highly among my eventing heroes haha. I don't even remember how I found the following video featuring him and Boyd Martin, but it's stuck with me ever since.

It's just some random clip from an "Eventing with the Stars" clinic with Boyd and Phillip, and the clip itself seems focused primarily on Phillip's horse, Sea of Clouds, rather than on the actual clinic. All the same tho, it's worth a watch.

phillip dutton doin his thang.
notable: this horse is barely half charlie's age lol
A couple weeks ago I wrote that a good brain in a horse deserves a good foundation. This is.... obviously not an original idea haha. Many a better horse person before me has arrived at the same conclusion, and perhaps more eloquently lol.

In fact, at the end of this video, after Phillip and Boyd have gone through discussing strategies for warming up for cross country, and showing some example introductions to ditch questions, the video ends with Phillip expounding on basically that same concept, by explaining his theories on horse training more generally.


Specifically, he notes that it's important to keep pushing things a little bit, to make it a little harder each time, but to always know that you can do it. To not ever do something where you're half-hearted, or unsure you can do it.

Whatever you start, you want to be able to get the horse through it. It's not always going to be perfect, but try and set yourself up so you can succeed every time you do it.

boyd martin dispenses his wisdom too
Furthermore, he says we should want to do the right thing by the horses and make sure they understand and know all their skills.

The part that struck me the most, tho, was when Phillip pointed out that even if you've got the most gifted kid in school, there's no sense in skipping grades.

At some stage, at the highest level, if you've missed something in your training it's going to show up. There's no sense moving up until you've fixed your training, because otherwise it'll show up at the next level. So you might as well get the training done before moving up.

not moving up any time soon
#groundpoles4lyfe
I first watched that clip well before I met Charlie... but it feels fitting for where we are in his training now. So many new skills to learn, and the only answer is time and repetition. And mileage. So much mileage haha.

In the meantime tho, I'm just gonna sit here and pretend that Charlie kiiiiinda sorta looks like Sea of Clouds if you close one eye and squint lol. What do you think? Do you agree with Phillip's thoughts on skills development v moving up? Or does it depend on what levels we're talking about (meaning, at the lowest levels there's less of a skills gap from one to the next, vs at the higher levels)?

23 comments:

  1. I think a strong foundation is key to everything and it's very important to take time with the basics. I'm obsessed with Michael Jung and I read/saw where he said that he doesn't jump his horses until they are fully adjustable at the walk trot and canter. That takes a ton of patience. I also am of the just because you can do it doesn't mean you should do it category.

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    1. Agreed. One of my trainers had the chance to watch Michael Jung warm up at an event once and was very impressed by his style and approach : just basics basics basics.

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  2. Can I just say that I could listen to Phillip and Boyd all day long!!!

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  3. I LOVE watching Boyd ride, he's one of my favorite eventers and I try to catch him whenever he's at the Horse Park of NJ (which is often). Boyd is a fantastic horseman and having been lucky enough to meet him twice, he's also a super nice guy! I also really like how quiet Boyd is in the tack and that he's really kind to his horses; you can tell he really enjoys whatever horse he's sitting on!

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    1. He's pretty great! I go back again and again to the notes I took from auditing his clinic since there's so much useful wisdom there

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  4. Totally agree with a strong foundation! It's why I'm in no great hurry to toss Griffin into the sandbox. Clinics clinics clinics.

    Hope to see you in December. =)

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    1. I seriously hope to see you in December too!! And agreed on the strong foundation before competition too. Tho... I admit to maybe or maybe not having plans for Charlie to taste his first schooling show sometime soon, despite not having made it to an actual dressage lesson yet. Ehh we will see ;)

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    2. But the show experience is another part of the foundation, so you aren't really skipping a step.

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    3. ha thanks - that's basically how i am rationalizing it too. plus it's got a few other attributes that make the show a good learning opportunity ;)

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  5. Great advice from a good horseman. This is the fun stuff: piecing together a solid horse and the satisfaction of creating a well educated partner. His thoughts on the importance of knowing you can do something and not going in halfhearted really struck me. It is key and I need a sticky note on my forehead for this one!

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    1. you and me both!! i rewatched that part a few times to really make sure i heard what he was saying. one of my biggest struggles as a rider is riding with commitment in challenging situations.

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  6. My horse decided for me that we would be focusing on skills and development and not moving up, so I have no choice but to agree with PDutty! But I have really always agreed with that, because it's what really makes sense. I try to ride with a sense of pushing and progress every day -- I actually have a "do one hard thing every day" goal with Murray that extends to ground manners, tacking up, riding, hacking, etc. -- but won't pretend I'm always successful!

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    1. well but i think that's awesome tho - and i think that speaks to phillip's distinction between "successful" and "perfect." you're challenging yourself and making things a little bit harder, but in such a way you know you can get through it and do the thing, even if it's not always perfect. seems to be right in line with giving Murray that opportunity to develop skills and fill in the training holes

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  7. I really like the analogy of comparing to children's education!

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  8. I like the comment about not doing something if you're not committed to it- this is something I need to work on desperately and a great reminder!

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    1. yea you and me both. that's basically been a constant struggle of mine lol, so it's oddly reassuring to hear the pros discussing exactly that thought process!

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  9. All great thoughts! The one thing I personally would add just based on my own experience is that, to some extent, moving up and developing skills go hand in hand. It's absolutely imperative to get the foundation laid, but there are some skills that simply don't have the same practical use or opportunities for practice at lower levels. For example, as the jumps get bigger (depends on the horse but usually in the 3'6-4' range) the mechanic of the jump changes. You start looking for a slightly different distance, the horse uses himself differently, and the way you ride the top of the jump changes. In order to really practice these things, there has to be a move up to some extent. You can practice two point all day, but holding it over small fences or on the flat just isn't the same as riding the bigger bascule in real time. BUT. In order to get to where you can practice those things, you do have to put in all the ground work and the two point on the flat to get stronger etc. etc. So I agree wholeheartedly, but I think each move up comes with new things to master as well.

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    1. i tend to agree with you. in order to learn some things, you kinda just have to go and *do* them. additionally (and i think we see this a lot in dressage too), sometimes moving on to harder or more complicated ideas or movements can somehow clarify or simplify an earlier subject that was maybe causing problems. that by moving forward and working on new and harder and more challenging areas, often we can solidify existing skills.

      i think the distinction here tho - between solidifying existing skills (or testing new ones, as you write about) vs. uncovering major training holes - is whether the rider has done their homework with the horse. whether you've already laid down the fundamentals and prepared yourself and the horse such that you're both ready for that next step. doesn't mean there won't still be mistakes or problems or whatever, but it's kinda like what phillip says about always working to continue challenging yourself, but only while *knowing* you can do it. that's really the key balance i think.

      anyway it's such an interesting topic to me, personally, and i love hearing other people's thoughts on it!

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